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.
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
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?
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.
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.
these similarities, there is obviously a huge difference between how well Lebanon
has done, as a whole, vis-à-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
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.
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.
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
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.