I've read somewhere that in order to understand the meaning of life you should spend more time with kids. Seeing through their eyes can literally shapeshift your perspective. A couple of minutes with a child and you suddenly feel more energized, less rigid, more playful, young at heart again!
This brings me today to the wisdom of our great Gibran Khalil Gibran, "Keep me away from the wisdom which does not cry, the philosophy which does not laugh and the greatness which does not bow before children."
So, today, we bow before our Lebanese children and bring on the laughter of their philosophy!
We wanted to know what these Lebanese kids, aged 8 to 12 years, had to say about their country. We asked them to write on a piece of paper the answer to this question: "What do you love most about Lebanon?"
Some answers were written in English, and others we had to translate, remaining as true as possible to the answer. So, here we go!
"What do you love most about Lebanon?"
While Rita, aged 12, said "I love the traditional food; the beautiful beach," Jack, aged 9, answered enthusiastically, "The mountains!" If you ever thought that these kids of ours don't appreciate so much our nature, you now know that you were wrong. Their young eyes and minds do see and their hearts appreciate.
Another enthusiastic response came from Hayat, aged 12, "I love the beach, I love the mountain, and all my favorite friends are in Lebanon!" Céline, who's 10 years young, has the same answer as Rita, she loves 'the traditional food and the beautiful beach' but also an added thing she loves most about Lebanon, "My friends!"
Elias, aged 8, also and yet simply said, "My friends!" Lebanese friendship seems to have an important part in the love of our kids to their homeland, as 10 years young Yassine wrote, "I love Lebanon because all my friends and all my family are here."
Now, Tala, who is 12, answered the same as Yassine, but she continued her answer with, "... and I hate Elie!" She really needed to take that out of her chest, obviously. I can't possibly tell you who's Elie, not yet anyway, but I do wish him good luck and a quick reconciliation with Tala. After all, Lebanese friendship is important to our kids' love for their country!
Let's keep going because the best is yet to come, and also the most surprising, like Paul's revelation. Paul is 8 and he had one answer to give, "I love school." Yes, I had to read that twice. If you and I hated going to school, it isn't the case with some of this newest young generation. Why education wasn't as fun in our times?
You might think you got the last surprise. Well, you're wrong. Listen to what 11 years young Mano had to say, "The UN and Lebanese TV shows." The UN...?! It gets you thinking. Do our kids seem to perceive the blue berets as an integral part of Lebanon's identity?
It was interesting for me to know that, other than their love of friendship, many of these kids answered loving Lebanon's nature and things related to nature. For example, Marie-José, who's 11, loves Lebanon's sea the most.
That feeling is shared by 9 years young May who wrote, "I love the sea because the sea is behind my house!"(Lucky May!). Similarly, Sarkis (10), Fouad (9), and Abdallah (8) had the same answer (not sure if they got to copy from each other). They all wrote, "The nature and the sea" as being what they love the most about Lebanon.
Hold your breath, we're not done yet! This is going to turn even more interesting. 12 years young Michelle wrote, "I love the beach and the people in it." Embrace it you all beachgoers, you are "most" loved as part of Lebanon!
11 years young Dimitria is also among those who love Lebanon's sea the most and also her family and friends. "There are a lot of seas, my family and friends," she wrote. Well, we have one sea really but since our coast extends to about 225 Km and has many beaches, she's kind of right.
For Sirine, who's 12, it's also the sea and the mountains, "...but I hate rugby," she added. (It seems there is a new Lebanese version of the American rugby. Did you know that? I didn't!)
Lilia, who's 8, loves the most "The ocean and Fadia!" But her friend Fadia, who's 9, had a different kind of love for Lebanon, "I love to go to the mountains, I love to go to the park." Well, we are still in the "loving nature" category so I am sure these two kids will find a way to get along well. After all, Lebanese friendships matter!
More love expression toward our nature came from Roni (11), "I love Lebanon because it has snow. I love Lebanon because it has sea." We got you, Roni! And Lebanon also has animals and the kids haven't forgotten that.
The most that Christopher (11) and Roy (10) love about Lebanon is "The zoo!" (Yes, friends, we have a zoo in Lebanon, it's located in Nahr El-Kalb and it shelters some 50 species of wild and domestic animals.) And 8 years young Léana got also her say about it, "I love dog. I love Beirut." We too, Léana, we too love Beirut!
Now, we do have a big problem with some answers here because kids like Serge (9) and Habib (10) seem to perceive "Rio Lento!" as a landmark of Lebanon. (Someone please talk to these kids!)
And also 12 years young Georges who admitted that the most lovable thing in Lebanon is, "Video games (Fortnite)," (!) but he didn't forget his family, of course.
Now, sure thing: Family takes its good rightful place in that love of the kids for their country, like 12 years young Shadi who wrote: "I love that I get to see all my family, I also love summer camps."
It is the same with Ram, who's 12, yet with an extra due appreciation to one of our main Lebanese blessings, "I love that all my family and friends are here, but I also love the traditional food like Koussa, Kebbeh, and the best thing is the summer camp." You go, Ram!
Now, my friends, you have a good general idea in regards to what the Lebanese kids love the most about Lebanon, and you might want to go ask yours and hear what they have to tell you. I am sure it will be interesting, and an opportunity for an open-conservation. Just keep in mind, Rio Lento is not a Lebanese landmark!
All in all, it is safe to say that our Lebanese kids have a good eye for Lebanon's blessings: the natural ones of our mountains and sea, the ones that life gives them with friends and family, and that which sustains them: our good food.