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“Kullunaa Lil Wattan:” An Ode to the Lebanese Living Outside Lebanon
by the Outsider (July 24th, 2006)

 

O Lebanon, My Lebanon,

I’ve shed tears on the backs of my brothers

For I have forsaken you when you needed me most

Amassing my fortune on some far away coast

Leaving your fate in the hands of those

Who don’t care for you enough to nurture your growth.

 

O Lebanon, My Lebanon,

I must confess that throughout it all

I’ve been an indifferent spectator to your plight

Returning every so often for a few summer nights

Before I head back to the country I now call home

Investing my life in someone else’s poem…

 

 

 

Like you, I have spent a large part of my life living outside Lebanon.  Like you, I have chosen to build my career in a foreign country, sacrificing allegiance to my own nation so that I may able to own a nicer car, live in a bigger house, and afford the finer things life has to offer.  And like you, I have been passive in the reconstruction of Lebanon, leaving the fate of my powerless people in the hands of crooked politicians and extremist militia who care more about themselves and their political aims than they do about the welfare of their people. 

 

Hezbollah has filled a void that we, as Lebanese expatriates, left behind when we moved to foreign lands.  This “terrorist” group that is now being condemned the world over provided the oppressed in Lebanon with critical social institutions that they so desperately needed.  They gave them hope and support at a time when all of us deserted them.  They gave the children of thousands of downtrodden Lebanese families opportunities that they otherwise would only have been able to dream about.

 

Yes, I concede that these institutions also serve the purpose of brainwashing the people and instilling blind allegiance to the cause of the resistance.  I also concede that this doesn’t justify the reckless kidnapping of the two Israeli soldiers that has brought Lebanon back to its war torn past. 

 

However, we are not exempt from blame for what is now happening to our beloved country.  If we had returned to Lebanon to help in its renaissance, and to invest some of our hard earned fortunes into the country, would our people have needed Hezbollah as much as they do now?  Could we have prevented this complex and problematic dependency on what the international community considers to be the ‘A Team’ of “terrorists”?  Moreover, could we have saved the helpless and impoverished people of Lebanon from the turmoil and devastation that they currently face?

 

While we watch this crisis unfold in the comfort of our living rooms all over the world, selfishly exploiting the sympathy of our foreign friends, our people, the true people of Lebanon, are enduring the kind of suffering we can only imagine.  While we express our concerns to coworkers over lunch, taking advantage of the spotlight being shined on our country, mothers are losing their children, families are losing their homes, and the spirit and soul of our courageous people is ruthlessly being stolen from them.  So, forgive me if I am not sympathetic towards you. 

 

Where were you when your country needed you? 

 

The sad reality is that the “Lebanese” living outside Lebanon are the most well-educated and successful ones.  We are the ones who are in the best position to help our country and yet, when things get tough, we become American, Brazilian, Colombian, Canadian, or European.  When our country needs us the most, we hide behind someone else’s flag, pledging allegiance to a foreign people who will always consider us to be a stranger on their land. 

 

Take now, for example.  Lebanon is being crushed; our infrastructure is being decimated and our people are undergoing tragic mental and physical devastation.  There are about 14 million people of Lebanese descent outside of Lebanon; more than three times the size of the resident population, yet most of us have not even lifted a finger.  Where are the protests?  Why aren’t letters flooding international government officials’ offices?  Why is there this unbearable silence in response to the rape of our nation? 

 

The source of Lebanon’s problems is not its religious divisions, or the “Occupation,” or Islamic Fundamentalism.  No, the real source of Lebanon’s problems is the utter and total neglect of the country by many of its best and brightest children living abroad.  Despite our many individual accomplishments and accolades, we have allowed Lebanon - our country and the collective symbol of our identity - to continue to suffer. 

 

Worse still, we, as a people, have so much potential.  Compare us to the Jews, for instance.  There are about 14 million Jews in the world – 5 million in Israel and 9 million spread all over the world.  There are about 18 million Lebanese people in the world – 4 million in Lebanon and 14 million spread all over the world.  The Lebanese and the Jews have many things in common:  they are both enterprising people and shrewd businessmen that share a strong pride in their heritage. 

 

Despite all these similarities, there is obviously a huge difference between how well Lebanon has done, as a whole, vis--vis Israel.  Jews are notorious for the power of their lobbies, the strength of their unity, and their ability to mobilize political support for Israel.  The Lebanese, on the other hand, are better known for their women, their parties, and their cuisine.  Jews all over the world yearn to move to Israel, while Lebanese all over the world plan to return home at their own convenience, when somebody else finishes rebuilding their country. 

 

Throughout it all, the Lebanese people have struggled to reconstruct their own lives.  Most of them have continued to look for guidance while we were away; a leader that cares for them, one who is willing to stand up for them when no one else will.  The poor in Lebanon were desperate for help, for hope, and for a future that they could truly be a part of.  Instead of answering their calls and flocking back to the country to teach them the many valuable lessons we have learned about democracy, education, business, and technology, we left it to the likes of Hezbollah to step in and take advantage of their hopelessness.  We left it to the likes of Iran to pay for our people’s education, to feed them, to put clothes on their backs, and to watch over them during their time of need.

 

Power is in the people: it always has been, and it always will be.  By allowing Hezbollah to evolve into the people’s champion, we allowed the group to grow in strength and to gain in popularity across Lebanon.  Further, through our absence, no one was left to hold Hezbollah accountable for its actions.  Through our neglect, we allowed Lebanon to follow a course dictated to it by Hezbollah; one that has brought the country to the current catastrophe.  And yet, we have the nerve to point the finger of blame in every direction except our own. 

 

It’s about time that we realized that Lebanon cannot be rebuilt without us.  It’s about time that we acknowledge every Lebanese citizen, regardless of religion, as one of us.  If we are true patriots, true children of Lebanon, it’s about time we took control of our country’s destiny.  We already have the means to invest in our country, the power to transform our government, and the strength to challenge those that seek to misuse and abuse Lebanon.  All that we lack is the desire, and the will to sacrifice our own self-indulgence for the welfare of our bleeding country.  Must we wait until Lebanon is completely obliterated before we rise to this challenge?  Must we wait until we have nothing left to rebuild before we decide that it’s the right time to rebuild?

 

All is not lost.  We have a golden opportunity to learn from our mistakes and to right the wrongs of our past.  Now is the time to step in and save our country.  Now is the time to take charge and lead the reconstruction of Lebanon and the rehabilitation of its people.  We can start by pressuring our adopted governments into putting an end to the carnage of our people.  We can sign petitions, write letters, stage protests, and do everything we can to build international awareness of the humanitarian crisis currently afflicting our nation.  We can stand up and take pride in Lebanon during its darkest hour, reminding the world of the resilience of a people that have bounced back from the destruction of war time and time again. 

 

When it’s all said and done and the hostilities finally end, we can begin to plan our return to Lebanon and we can finally start to look for ways to heal the wounds of our war torn nation.  Instead of leaving it to the international community to rebuild our country, we can invest in its reconstruction together, so that we owe the world nothing, and so that we can truly create a country built for the people, by the people. 

 

If enough of us act, and enough of us return, we can guarantee that the Lebanese people will no longer need the help of other nations, such as Iran and Syria, who view Lebanon as nothing more than a means for achieving their own political aims.  We can also ensure that the poor in Lebanon finally have the guidance they deserve, from people who genuinely care about their welfare, and who sincerely want the best for them. 

 

The onus is on us to find a way to unite as a people and to come together as one fist.  The onus is on us, the fortunate children of Lebanon, to carry our helpless brothers and sisters on our shoulders, thrusting them forward into a bright future that promises to return Lebanon to its glorious past. 

 

Our nation is at a crossroads in her life, and only we can plant the seeds of its prosperity.  It is not a question of whether we can do it; rather, it is a question of whether we really want to.  So, to all the Lebanese living outside Lebanon - those who still take pride in their heritage, who share memories of a celebrated past, and who harbor hope for a glorious future - I have just one question:  Will you rise up and come together as one to lift your country out of the abyss?  Or will you continue to sit back and watch indifferently, as the death, destruction, and devastation that has plagued Lebanon in the past promises to rear its ugly head once more?

 

 

 

O Lebanon, My Lebanon,

Fear not, for hope is near

Be sure, the clouds will clear

And when that day comes

Your sons and daughters will rise once more

Defiant, resilient, your flag will soar.

 

O Lebanon, My Lebanon,

You stand at the crossroads of your life

Exploit this opportunity and end your strife

Forget your past,

Recast your die,

And turn this tide of death into a glorious success.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You can start to help Lebanon by downloading this letter from the Daily Star and sending it to your local government officials.  If enough people do this, we may be able to make a difference.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Letter to Save Lebanon

Copyright Kompashun 2006

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