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Najwa Barakat

Crisis, hope and hopelessness in Lebanon

Many Lebanese are sick of what they see as the failure of the state [Anadolu]

Date of publication: 13 August, 2015

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Blog: Crisis after crisis in Lebanon, most recently with the refuse left uncollected in Beirut, has left many desensitised, cynical or utterly devoid of hope, says Najwa Barakat
An electricity crisis.
A garbage crisis.
A tainted food crisis.
A perpetual political-economic crisis.

And yet the country sways and dances to the beat of its summer festivals that have mushroomed everywhere from north to south, as if nothing is happening. As if it is a very normal country that deserves to go on holiday after months of toil and hard work.

This is what passes as normal here, as the country goes from one extreme to the other, from bad to worse, gathering speed on its way to the precipice.

Whenever I meet friends or otherwise, from any background or affiliation, I ask them: Can you mention one thing you still find positive, anything that works in Lebanon? Of course, the answer is always no, soon accompanied by a long list of grievances they all suffer from on a daily basis. They do not know where to begin.

A friend - let's call her N - tells me she has lost all her social skills. She can no longer bear to see or hear anyone, and feels like a feral wolf, full of disgust and aloofness.

Luckily, she says, she does not have to leave her house every day thanks to her work, otherwise, she thinks she would be capable of attacking others - she believes no one is innocent.

N strongly believes there are many Lebanese like her, living in self-imposed isolation from the rest of society.

R, a taxi driver, perspires as he curses. He tells me he had returned from Australia in 2005, following the withdrawal of the Syrian army from Lebanon, full of hope that he would be able to start over in the place he spent his childhood and adolescence.

He brought his life savings, and came to Lebanon to start a car repair garage with his cousin and friend. Soon, however, his cousin fled from Lebanon, taking all their money that was meant to buy the equipment, never looking back.

O said that she tried to leave Lebanon and resettle somewhere else. She married a foreigner she had met online, but said that the man turned out to be a "psycho" who had different, sinister plans for her.

She was abused and she filed for divorce, and returned to Lebanon to work as a sales clerk in a boutique.

M said that because of his young daughter's medical condition, he had to become a drug dealer, selling marijuana to youths outside schools and pills at parties. He was caught and soon sentenced to five years in prison, during which he continued dealing.

He said that he is now a more influential drug dealer than he was before his arrest and conviction.

Even four-year old Nai told me she does not want to stay in Lebanon: "The butcher does not sell decent meat to mom, people throw garbage in the streets and the electricity providers are stingy and keep all the electricity for themselves."

She realises this means she would have to leave behind her cousins and friends. She frowns and, on the verge of crying, says: "You know what, all of Lebanon is caca."

This article is an edited translation from our Arabic edition.

Opinions expressed in this article remain those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of al-Araby al-Jadeed, its editorial board or staff.

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