Tuesday, June 7, 2016

What I want for my birthday

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Today I’m turning 49. Tomorrow I’ll enter my 50th year on this planet. Still, after all this time, one of the toughest things remains the answer to the fundamental question: "what do you want for your birthday?"

Answering this question is always tricky. You don’t want your friends and family to feel obliged to buy something they can’t afford, or don’t like buying for whatever reason. So I thought about it extensively, and I finally figured out what I truly want for my birthday.

I want to know that the years spent working for a better Lebanon have not been in vain. That despite the many setbacks, disappointments and defeats, this effort gave birth to something, the hope that some day soon, things will be better. Not an illusive hope, of course, but something real, concrete, something to build on.

I want my fellow Lebanese to be less superficial, less hypocritical, less intolerant, less petty. I want them to embrace their amazing untapped potential. I want them to shine like I know they can, and like so many have done already throughout the world. I want them to be the wonderful human beings I've already seen them be in the past: kind, generous, smart, talented and incredibly fun.

I want less oversized balloons disguised as breasts, less jellyfish pretending to be lips, and much less Star Trek-looking women at overpriced weddings. I want Lebanon filled with Nadia Tueni. As many Nadia Tueni as humanly possible.

I want us to stop treating this breathtakingly beautiful country of ours like an old ashtray, a doormat or a garbage chute. I want us to focus on our common humanity rather than bicker over our differences and parade our egos in an endless penis competition. I want less patriotic songs and more patriotic deeds.

I want a more humane society. A society based on equal rights and equal chances for everyone. Where no Lebanese is ever excluded. Where no Lebanese goes hungry. Where no Lebanese lives everyday as a humiliation. We have a tiny country, with many natural resources and a fertile land. We have dynamic businesses and a lot of money in our banks. We are creative and resourceful. Our economy can easily flourish for every Lebanese to profit from. So what’s stopping us, really, beside our absurd tendency to self-destruct?

But I know I’m not going to get any of that. Not on this birthday. Maybe next year or the year after. Or even the one after that. In the meantime, I’ll settle for the presents my friends and family will kindly give me. And be very grateful they are still here, around me, even if too many of them live far away.

© Claude El Khal, 2016


Tarek Joseph Chemaly said...

Et puis fi par la cravatte qui je t'ai emmene! Tu peux pas etre un peu plus normal comme tout le monde?

Anonymous said...

Beautifully said!

Anonymous said...

Mine is coming up in 2 months, I would like a paid trip to California :)

Chadiyo said...