Humor is such an integral part of Lebanese society that it's almost a mandatory custom in conversations. Lebanese people are so quick to break the ice that you easily feel welcome and at home whenever you're in their hospitality. I can't recall the last time I met a Lebanese person who doesn't have a great sense of humor. But if you observe the state of the country they live in, you'll conclude a curious paradox.
Truth be told, Lebanon is not the best country to be living in today. It's common knowledge that it's overwhelmed with the national debt, corruption, poverty, among other social, economic, and political dilemmas.
And naturally, these dilemmas should actively be taking a toll on the happiness and well-being of the people, and indeed they do. Yet, the Lebanese are some of the funniest and most cheerful folks around!
The average Lebanese citizen is typically under immense stress and pressure. Lebanon's economy is a mess, jobs are scarce, and everything is expensive. If you are to live a decent life in Lebanon, you must work a number of hours highly imbalanced with your salary just to make ends meet.
Despite the enormous pressure, wherever there's a Lebanese group, you will hear constant laughter and non-stop jokes, you will hear knee-slapping as you've never heard before, and you will catch a hint of pure joy in the atmosphere.
The typical Lebanese seems to be in a constant state of joke-fishing; always looking for the smallest opportunity in every situation to throw in that hilariously relatable joke that they have in their arsenal.
Even in dull or dark moments, they do their best to summon laughter and lighten the mood. In fact, you will probably think that those people have nothing on their minds but fun; that they have the easiest, smoothest lives. But that is very far from the truth. So how can this be explained? How can you be so stressed, yet so alive and energetic?
You might say it's the fact that Lebanon is full of extroverted people (ranked 2nd for most extroverted people in the world) who love having fun, but even most Lebanese introverts have a great sense of humor.
It may also be in our blood; Lebanese are known to be humorous people after all. You might also say that comedy is a way to hide and cope with an underlying sadness, but for sure we're not all depressed.
This leaves us with the one easy conclusion: No one knows...
But that's not what you came here for; you want an answer.
And the answer is not as clear as you'd want it to be. In fact, the answer is a rough combination of everything discussed above: We are innately merry people, we love to laugh and make others laugh, it is in our blood. We also lead difficult lives due to several aforementioned factors; our lives are manageable but still difficult.
This means that we probably go through more bad days than good, and this puts us in strenuous moods that are incompatible with our merry nature. So we automatically resort to surging our funny dosage to compensate and retain that perfect state of equilibrium.
We are naturally rebellious, as well. We love to be in control of our lives to the point that we don't allow stress to get the best of our moods. We continue to go out and have the time of our lives even when we're under mountains of incrementing pressure because we're always aware of the silver lining that comes with each dark cloud. We can never give up until our goals are achieved no matter the consequences.
Look at what our people have achieved around the world. We have exported some of the most successful businessmen and women, thinkers, and leaders.
We have already cemented our legacy as a people and shown the world what can come out of our struggling small nation, and how perseverant we are. And we've done all of it without taking off our wide smiles from our exhausted faces.
We are innately merry people, and this merriness is what pushes us forward. It's what gives us our lifeforce, our hope. So to all of you, I say keep working, keep laughing, and keep pushing forward because, one day, you will have the potential to change the world.
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