Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Welcome to Nothingland

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They say we have the most expensive electricity in the world and yet electricity comes and goes. And even sometimes it doesn’t come at all. So on top of our electricity bill, we need to pay a very pricey generator.

They say we have the most expensive water bill in the world and yet there’s barely any water in our taps. So on top of this exorbitant bill, we need to pay very pricey and not so clean "citernes". There’s also no drinkable water, so we need to buy mineral water if we want to quench our thirst.

They say we have the most expensive Internet in the world but it’s so slow, you wonder if it’s not actually the worst on the planet. We also have the most expensive mobile phone bills, but conversations cut after a few minutes, if we’re lucky enough to have a signal at all.

They say we have the most expensive garbage in the world. Yes, garbage! The ton of garbage in Lebanon can be ten times pricier than in most countries. But garbage is everywhere, and we’ve been drowning in it for the past year, without any viable solution on the horizon.

They say Lebanese have a nick for business. They say it’s in our genes, being the descendents of the Phoenicians and all. But our economy is in terrible shape. And no one seems to understand to most basic rule of business: if everything is very expensive and wages are very low, people can’t buy what’s for sale. If no one buys, no one sells. It sounds simple, but yet, it seems we haven’t completely grasped this reality.

They say Lebanese are a proud people. We scream and shout if anyone dares to doubt it. Sometimes for a dirty look or a simple argument, people get shot, beaten or killed. But when it comes to politics, where does our pride go? We’ve been screwed and lied to for years, for generations, by crooked politicians. We’ve been denied our most basic rights but still, we say nothing. And keep applauding and cheering, as obedient as well trained dogs.

We say we love Lebanon. We shed tears at Fairuz songs and hold our hommos in the highest esteem. But we let our country being raped by a corrupt bunch that acts like medieval warlords. Our forests burn and we say nothing. Our mountains are destroyed and we say nothing. Our beaches are polluted and we say nothing. Our public spaces are being sold and we say nothing. Our children are denied a decent future and we say and do nothing.

Nothing is perhaps the only thing we can truly claim as our own. And we should all be proudly singing: "Koullouna lil nothing lil 3oula lil habal".

© Claude El Khal, 2016