Tom Fletcher is probably the only outsider we Lebanese should listen to. Read the full letter [Here].
First and most important, start ignoring advice from outsiders, including me: this is your country.
The thing is, Lebanon, do you still believe in that idea? This is a question only you can answer. Without doubt, it has been a bumpy seven decades, with troublesome teenage years and plenty of midlife crises, to put it mildly. You now face another tough year, and rising anxiety that regional rifts can drive you apart once again. We have been reminded this week that there are plenty of people who want that to happen.
I hope that you’ll forgive a bit of feedback, from one of your admirers.
You’re so much better than you admit. Look back at those seventy years. Your writers, musicians, thinkers and businesspeople have conquered the world again and again. Your mountains, valleys and coasts are the envy of all of us. You have an extraordinary unquenchable spirit. You have found a way to move on from a devastating civil war, almost as though it never happened. You are the world’s best networkers, in a century that will be run by networks. You are also the most exceptional hosts, not just to ambassadors but also to the hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees who have arrived in the last two years. Whatever your religion, there are few more beautiful sounds than the intermingling of the call to prayer and church bells. Every day I meet extraordinary Lebanese people doing great things against the odds.
So, let’s be clear, I’m a fan.
But I’m also frustrated, and I know that many of you are.
Your politics are dynamic on the surface. Yet broken and paralysed beneath it. You talk of unity. Yet often say things like ‘Lebanon would be wonderful if it wasn’t for the Lebanese’, ‘it will always be like this – this is Lebanon’, or ‘they (insert different group) are just too different’. You have an impressive ability to absorb hardships such as power cuts. Yet you rarely confront the causes of them. You invest more than any country in the education of your youth. Yet they feel excluded from changing the country for the better. You have been a beacon for women’s rights. Yet only elect a tiny handful to parliament. You were the first country in the region to stand up against dictatorship and tyranny in the 21st century Middle East. Yet your voice in calling for your own rights and those of others seems to have fallen silent, and in too many cases been silenced.