I’ve been thinking about that subject a lot lately. Living in Lebanon, I’m surrounded by people who complain day in day out about the situation in the country. I go on Facebook and see people posting comments, pictures and videos about the ridiculous situation that has yet to change for the past 30+ years. I mean what’s not to complain about? The power cuts, the terrible public transportation system, the non existing medical care and retirement plan, the overpriced internet connection, the potholed roads, the corruption in the government, the useless parliament… You name it.
Although complaining is something everybody does and if you don’t already do it, it becomes too tempting not to join in with the grumbling squad once something goes wrong, (and boy does that happen too often), allow me if I may to ask one simple question. What has your complaining and grumbling exactly changed already?
It should come to you as obvious that it has done nothing whatsoever except make it less pleasant for you and the people around you to stay in this country and endure every day’s hardship.
So why do you still do it when you know that it’s not doing you any good? I’ll tell you why. You do it because it relieves every responsibility whatsoever from your shoulders to actually change anything and instead puts it on the other person. The moment you complain or grumble against anything you place yourself as the victim and you assume a very passive and negative attitude that is dependent on what the other person can offer to you or do to change the situation you live in. And allow me to say that I for one am sick of hearing people complain. I’m tired of listening to people say “wayniyeh el dawleh?” (where’s the government?), because if people opened their eyes they would realize that the “dawleh” is them and they hold in their hands the power to change, but are just too lazy to do anything about it and would rather blame someone else for their unhappiness.
Now before you go on reading any further, let me just clarify something. This is not an article that claims to have all the solutions for the problems in this country. But it’s a good start on the right path and if adopted and spread, this attitude will lead to change, sooner than you think.
Now let’s get started!
1 – Don’t compare
One of the biggest traps you could fall into is to compare your country to another more developed country. Not that you shouldn’t aspire to live in better conditions than you are now, but when you compare Lebanon to a country in Europe per se, you automatically see all the good in that country and blind yourself from seeing all the good in your own country. You might say “well what’s to like about Lebanon anyway?”. Well I don’t know, but you can ask the multitude of foreigners who have chosen to leave the comfort of their own countries and call our country their home. What do they see in this country that we’re not being able to see? I don’t know but it’s definitely keeping them here when the average Lebanese person would envy the lifestyle they chose to leave behind. I personally know at least 30 people who are willingly living here, 6 of them who have been here for more than 30 years, which means they’re more Lebanese than I am!
2 – Clean your mess up and the mess of other people!
When I moved to a new neighborhood a couple of years ago I fell in love with the scenery right next to my house, a beautiful big forest. But as I would take my dog for a walk everyday I would get really frustrated at the amount of garbage that people would recklessly sprinkle here and there, and every time I walked by it I would get more and more mad thinking if only people knew what they had they wouldn’t throw garbage where garbage shouldn’t be. But one day as I was walking my dog and asking God why people don’t just stop littering, his reply to me came: “why don’t you clean that garbage up?”. At first it seemed very unusual a thing to do, mainly because your first reaction to such a request would be “well why should I clean up the mess of other people?” and “it’s not my job to clean up that garbage, it’s the garbage man’s job!”. While one might be right in reasoning like that, I decided not to follow my thirsty-for-justice inner voice and just instead obey the unusual request I had just heard. So I went home and got a big garbage bag and started cleaning around my house. 15 min later I was able to fill the whole bag up and had to strengthen it with another one because it was literally about to burst. Doing this gave me a feeling of ownership I had never felt before. There’s something about feeling something is yours that makes you want to care of it and not wait for someone else to take care of it for you. At least 2 of my neighbors saw me that day cleaning the mess and I’m sure if any of them had anything to do with the littering they would have been shamed by seeing someone clean up after them.
Lebanon is yours, take care of it. Don’t wait for someone else to take care of it for you.
3 – Respect the laws and regulations even if no one else does
Once you realize laws are put for your own good you will want to abide by them. Often our excuse for not following the rules is that everybody else isn’t. Well once you realize that it’s this exact mentality that is causing the whole population to transgress against the law thinking “shou we2fit 3layeh?” (what difference do I make?), you will want to start with yourself.
If you’re driving, stop on a red light and respect the traffic signs. If you’re a smoker and happen to stumble upon a restaurant that doesn’t abide by the Law 174 (Smoking Ban), be courteous enough to step outside for a smoke showing respect for your non smoking compatriots. If every smoker thought like that, who would still care if restaurants abode by the law or not? Who would care if the government wasn’t assertive enough in enforcing the law on restaurants?
Don’t wait for the government to enforce a law upon you or for everyone to start abiding by the law for you to follow their lead. Start with yourself and believe that you can make a difference.
4 – Turn off the damn television
I don’t know about you, but I haven’t watched TV for years now, and I feel pretty darn peaceful from doing that. Local TV channels have their way of putting a gloom on your whole well-being. From the moment you turn on the TV you get hammered with bad news depicting how much the situation really sucks. Endless talk shows hosting one politician after the other to discuss and debate how to bring about a change in the country and change the political atmosphere around, giving you the impression that change is at hand, when in fact you know that every TV channel is politicized and biased and at the end of the day each serves the agenda of its leader.
Well I have news for you. You don’t need TV to know what’s going on around you. Personally, Facebook is my news source, YouTube is my TV station and blogs are my newspaper. At least here I can be selective on what to receive and what to block. Social media helps me most of the time get unfiltered and unbiased information from friends who witnessed the action first hand, because when you, someone with no hidden agenda, witness something first and make a post about it, you become a far more reliable source than any TV station that will deliver the same scoop in a way that is filtered and tailored to suit its leader’s ideologies.
Long gone are the days of television. You don’t need television anymore. God knows I only use my television to watch a DVD, and even that doesn’t happen so often since I watch everything I want now online.
5 – Stop looking back to the past
Yes I know, Lebanon was splendid before the civil war. “Swissra el share2!” (Switzerland of the middle East!). For as long as I can remember I have been hearing people talk about how Lebanon was before the war and how it’s a shame that we can’t go back to those days.
Well, can we just get over it now?
What’s done is done and we can’t go back in time, but we can move forward. And not to put a damper on your party, but anyone in his right mind and with enough awareness of the history of our political conflict would know that the way our constitution and electoral system were founded was just a recipe for destruction.
I mean how in the world did our Independence Fathers think that confessionalism is the solution to harbor 18 different confessions in one country, all of them living in peace and harmony? How could anyone think of anything other than a secular state that would separate legislation from religious beliefs?
The moment you designate positions and seats in the parliament for select people based on confession instead of merit you are setting your country up for self destruction.
You have to realize it was a time-bomb bound to explode at one point. We were lucky enough for it to last some 30 years – the golden era that is forever praised in the hearts of the Lebanese people.
6 – Vote!
Please, for the love of God, don’t vote for someone because your family has always voted for them. Don’t vote for someone because they will get you or your son or daughter a job. Don’t vote for someone because they promised to pave the road in front of your house. Don’t vote for someone because they promised to give you money. Don’t vote for someone because they’re family. Don’t vote for someone because they belong to your confession. Don’t vote for someone because they come from your hometown. Don’t vote for someone because they are the head of a political party. Don’t vote for someone because everybody else is.
Don’t fall into peer pressure. It’s time you realized that any wrong choice you make when it comes to voting is costing you and your country to suffer for the entirety of this politician’s reign. Don’t go for a quick remedy to your temporary problem. Think long term!
Ask yourself these questions: Is this person qualified to be elected? Is this person trying to buy my voice? Is this person more likely to serve his country or just use his seat to enjoy the luxuries of being a politician? Will I regret voting for this person?
It’s high time we changed the way things are run over here. I for one am sick of seeing the same faces and hearing the same names in politics ever since our Independence in 1943. Let’s make way for people who merit to be in the seats. Let’s change the old suit. All of it.
7 – Bless your country and its leaders
I don’t care if you believe or not, but life and death are in the power of the tongue. I can’t emphasize this enough, but how do you expect a country to be run well if you have 4 million people cursing it and its leaders everyday?
Sure they aren’t doing a good job, but I’m crazy enough to believe that if you bless someone instead of cursing them they will eventually start to improve and do a better job.
Decide to speak life into the situation, speak life into the governing authorities and change will begin to happen.
Don’t forget that your politicians come from within you. If they’re corrupt it’s because you’re corrupt. It’s easy to blame them and put them under the microscope because they’re up there, in the spotlight. But truth is, if you were up there in their shoes, you wouldn’t like having 4 million people cursing you day in day out because you’re incompetent instead of encouraging you especially since they were the ones who voted for you in the first place.
I’m not trying to justify our politicians’ shortcomings here, don’t get me wrong, and I’m definitely not talking about the vain praise that political party leaders get from their blind followers. I’m talking about believing a positive change will come about this country instead of constantly cursing it.
Having said all of this, allow me to say one final thing. If you have read this, then I don’t wanna hear you complaining again, do you hear me? We have the power to change, let’s stop blaming others for our unhappiness.
If you choose to disregard everything I said and keep on complaining, then please, by all means, leave this country! Go live in the US or Europe and make room for us Lebanese people who are willingly and happily staying here to bring a change about this country.
A couple of months ago I went to Thailand with a team of young people of my age, all coming from England. When they asked me to tell them about Lebanon I couldn’t help but get a smile instantly on my face and say: “It’s a land flowing with milk and honey”. Delusional you might think, but that’s how I really see my country – A land flowing with milk and honey.