Sometimes it feels like the whole world is moving while Lebanon is frozen in time. Life moves forwards, yet Lebanon might even be going backward.
Many still want to believe that it is due to the civil war, which took Lebanon from its former glory as a tourist-attracting “Switzerland of the Middle East” to a war-torn country. Yet, that war ended 3 decades ago.
Much if not most were rebuilt since then and new constructions were erected, some quite fancy and trendy. New inventions and creativities were birthed and progress is relevant in many aspects, as hope never dies in the heart of the Lebanese nation.
However, some critical aspects of Lebanon haven’t changed a bit despite – or because of – the political expertise gained by those being in charge for too long.
Lebanon, though, remains a country of goodness and beauty, mainly because of its natural environment and its people.
Both the good and the bad, here are some things that did not change in Lebanon in over a decade.
While the economic crisis pretty much quadrupled the price of simple Lebanese flatbread, our love for this staple can never be discarded. It’s part of the Lebanese cultural identity.
#3 Driving on a bumpy and crowded highway
The poor transportation system is something that surely hasn’t changed nor improved. Instead, traffic is getting worse. Frustratingly enough, Lebanon persists in issuing every year its expense report on its railway that stopped operating decades ago.
Wasta (favoritism, nepotism) was long regarded as the key to everything. Need a job? Wasta. Need to get into a good school? Wasta. Need to get into a good room at the hospital at a regular price? Wasta. It kept people silent against corrupt politicians.
Today, people have begun calling out the ‘wasta’ culture, but it still exists and very deeply embedded into the Lebanese mentality. It’s such a part of Lebanon that even CNN used it.
#6 Laws that lost the principle of every law to serve and protect
While the first school of law in the world is said to have been established in Beirut, Lebanon has not done much to evolve what it has implemented of Ottoman and Napoleon’s laws in its system. Turkey and France have long changed theirs to justly serve their citizens while Lebanon is still holding tight to these outdated ones as if its life depends on them.
Religion institutions around the world have also evolved their laws to be fair and just to women and children. Not in Lebanon though where religious courts continue to apply discriminatory laws that victimize mothers and their kids and only create sufferings.
In 2021, Lebanon pathetically has to rely on noisy and environmentally damaging backup electricity generators because the state cannot provide 24-hour electricity despite what the ministry promised a decade ago. Not to mention the ugly electricity wires across buildings.
For decades, sectarian politics have endeavored to divide the nation by infusing the communities with an unreasonable fear of each other. However, during its thousands of years of existence, the Lebanese nation had very rare internal religious wars, and those were fueled by political leaders.
Other than that, Lebanon’s peaceful co-existence remains an enduring fact. Some politicians in the country seem to think that the people don’t know that.
Luckily, the nation has awakened, as proven by the ongoing Lebanese Revolution, and refuses to be manipulated for the sole gain of their politicians. A major part of the nation is now demanding to bring an end to sectarian politics and divisions.
Religion in Lebanon’s politics is arguably one of the biggest dividing factors when it comes to governing a nation with people of different faiths. The people of the revolution are urging for the formation of a secular state like all progressive countries in the world.
Within the last decade, Lebanon has fallen from one waste crisis to another. In the humid summers, the awful smell in Beirut serves as a reminder of the poor waste management in Lebanon. However, some people are starting to encourage recycling and reducing waste.
Lebanon’s taxi or “service” drivers roll along in their clunky old 1980 Mercedes-Benz beeping their horns near passersby to see if they need a lift. Despite new services such as Uber and Careem, these feisty traditional taxi drivers continue to fill the streets. But somehow, they’re never around when you actually do need a lift!
Rulers come and go (some just stay forever) and their pledges to end corruption for over a decade have remained words no one believes in anymore. Not only corruption is still there and has further expanded into multiple crises but some are so boldly done publicly that one gets to wonder if the rulers know what corruption really means.
From the railways’ budget to the electricity and the smuggling to Syria and the list goes on and on…
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