If you are living somewhere in Canada, you must have probably been to Rue Khalil Gibran in the Ville Saint-Laurent of Montréal (Quebec Province). And if it happens that you’re living in the US or have been to Washington DC, we assume that you have possibly got to admire Khalil Gibran Memorial Garden or contemplated his Statue in Los Angeles.
The list here can truly be endless of all these places around the world honoring Gibran for his unique influence. Either it’s that big hospital in Venezuela carrying his paintings and quotes, or his International Academy in Brooklyn and his famous paintings at “Le Petit Palais” Paris, the world’s greatest cities have been long competing on who can pay more tribute to Gibran.
As for Lebanon, Gibran Khalil Gibran’s homeland, it has done very little to honor him and his memory as he deserves. Aside from a couple of streets in Hamra and Horsh Tabet (Beirut) and a small one of less than 1 Km in Baladiyeh (Tripoli), we see no indication of our pride in that native of our country whose work still influences millions around the world.
It was but in August 2014 that a cultural center and public garden was inaugurated in his name in downtown Beirut. That’s to the credit of the people of his hometown Bsharri and the Gibran National Committee organization.
Whilst all the efforts put in repaying back some of Gibran’s eternal contribution to Lebanon are still framed within individual and humble initiatives, the world’s largest cities are naming sites after his name.
On a similar note, did you know that the famous Verdun Street in Beirut was named after the Verdun-sur-Meuse in north-eastern France? Or have you ever wondered why there is no school in Lebanon dedicated to Gibran or a university’s hall in our country with a memorial of any kind to Gibran?
He who was born on the 6th of January 1883 in the northern mountain of Bsharri close to the sacred valley of Wadi Qadisha marked his birth with the conception of an artistic and philosophical renaissance.
“A Tear and a Smile” (early 1900s), “The Broken Wings” (1906), “The “Madman” (1918) and “The Prophet” (1923) that was later on produced by Salma Hayek into an animated movie in 2014, are all Gibran’s must-read masterpieces.
It’s, therefore, no wonder how and why this cross-cultural and international philosophe is among the top 3 must-read authors in the world, along with Shakespeare and Sufi.
Besides his deathless and immortal pieces of Literature, Gibran was the godfather of the “Arab and Lebanese co-writers and poets living in the United States” that he founded in 1920. He has been also known for his unique paintings that are talking masterpieces.
Gibran’s death in 1931, which was due to liver cancer and tuberculosis, came too early at the age of 48 in New York and was a distress for the world. It was such a torment event that destabilized the world of poetry, art, and literature in perpetual thirst for Gibran’s artwork.
Up till today, Gibran’s hallowed body lies in tranquility in Bsharri in the monastery of Mar Sarkis (Saint Serge) that was later on turned into Gibran Khalil Gibran Museum, displaying his artwork, paintings, and some of his manuscripts and belongings.
This museum, which place was originally purchased by Gibran himself, became a must-visit landmark as the result of the energy and efforts that his sister Marianna had tremendously invested there.
The museum is now managed by The Gibran National Committee (GNC) a nonprofit organization formed by virtue in homage to our legendary Gibran Khalil Gibran.
While The Prophet’s hallowed body lies in tranquility in his eternal and final resting place, Gibran’s work is still making the noise.
The GNC annual award, for instance, does take play each year to spread Gibran’s thoughts and promote distinguished Lebanese innovators who Gibran had called “the children of his Lebanon” in his world-renowned article “You have your Lebanon and I have mine.”
Those initiatives, while commendable, remain based on efforts by individuals; those honorable Lebanese people who have recognized Gibran’s grandeur and wished to keep his memory alive in his nation.
However, for a man of such worldwide magnitude as Gibran, we can’t but wonder about Lebanon’s lack of consideration in duly honoring him like, at least, other major countries have done, and show to the world our pride and recognition of him.
In the beating heart of Lebanon, Gibran should have his rightful place; there in the capital and at the entrance of all visitors to Lebanon.
Something great as he was and still is across the times and spaces; there where tourists can directly see and sense, a memorial that would eternalize his presence in the land that birthed him.
The blunt question we are asking here is: Why is there no statue for Gibran at our airport to tell our coming visitors: “This is the homeland of one of the greatest men who walked the earth”? Why there is no main avenue in Beirut named after Gibran when a foreign country has done it?
At that, we like to remind you about one Gibran’s wisest advises: “Your living is determined not so much by what life brings to you as by the attitude you bring to life; not so much by what happens to you as by the way your mind looks at what happens.”
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