My heart broke two days ago when I saw my home country burn, quite literally, in front of our eyes. As firefighters and regular people alike risked their lives to save our forests and homes from turning to ashes, it seemed fitting that a country whose course was scorching earth culminated that way.
The fire was literal and figurative. The trees burned, but so did people’s savings. The shrubs erupted, but so did people’s patience. Homes burned, and so did the fragile foundation on which the semblance of the Lebanese state remained.
As the government botched yet another aspect of its job towards its citizens, as people died trying to save each other from the fire while our politicians watched, it felt like we were turning into the ashes from which the Phoenix that this country has been likened to can finally be reborn.
They raised taxes. We took it in.
They didn’t collect garbage. We took it in.
They didn’t provide security and didn’t protect our currency. We took it in.
They didn’t provide for our children and elderly. They broke our social fabric. We took it in.
They cultivated divide and hatred. We swallowed it in.
They turned us into expats. They killed us. We took it in.
And then we rise.
You can call it the WhatsApp revolution. You can call it what you want to. But whatever the name may be, what is happening across Lebanon today is exactly why a part of me will love that country.
It’s that moment where enough became enough. When the raised taxes, the higher fuel prices, the lack of electricity and water and decent internet, the lack of security, the depreciation of citizenry all culminated in what may be lebanon – finally – rising.
It’s that split second in which thousands of my people can gather on the streets to cry for their rights.
It’s that kick that that feisty Lebanese woman can deliver to an armed officer threatening her.
It’s that middle finger that a protester gives to a politician who has taken his support for granted.
It’s that anger at years during which those very politicians have turned living in Lebanon into an actual hell.
It’s the years in which they failed to provide what constitutes the essentials of basic human decency.
It’s that Sunni in tripoli who is finally tired of Hariri.
It’s that Shia in Nabatieh who tore down the picture of Nabih Berri. It’s that Christian in Mount Lebanon who finally told Gebran Bassil to shove it.
Those chants in the streets, the party flags torn up, the politician pictures burned down could all point to a new dawn for a country who has been needing daylight for so long.
Yes I am wary. I had hope when I still lived in Lebanon and we protested the garbage crisis. I had hope even before then when I was a teenager and part of the millions who took it to martyr’s square on March 14th. But my Lebanese experience has trained me not to get my hopes up sometimes. Yet this time seems different.
There’s another air to how the protests are. This is the first time we’ve seen this level of anger and angst, perpetuating across the political and sectarian spectrum, uniting people I’d never thought could be united.
This is the first time their attempts at attacking the validity of the protests has completely failed, and conversely fueled their legitimacy.
Today, I have hope for my country. I’ve never had this much hope since I was 15 years old, on March 14th. I have hope that finally Lebanon may rise, and become the country we deserve to have.
To all of those in the streets fighting for everyone’s rights, you are heroes. Thank you for the good fight, we are humbled by your bravery.