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Opinion and Editorial

United in grief, the young are seeking change in Lebanon

Christiane Waked
Filed on August 20, 2020

I often think, is it a curse to be born in this region? What did we do to deserve this?

Two weeks after the explosion, it is only now that I am starting to snap out of the numbness as a wave of sadness covers me, piercing deep down into the soul with razor sharp effectiveness, twisting once buried within to ensure the job is done, and the pain is mercilessly felt.
I can still feel the sound of the explosion in my ears, the screaming, my mother crying, and me thinking, 'Oh my God, this is not happening, this is not happening.'
But it did happen, and now I can't help but feel anxious as the event robbed me of my sleep. I am waking up in the middle of the night with my heart pounding, worrying about the present, my future, thinking about my beautiful Beirut, her wounded body, her lost children, her old bruised soul.
I often think, is it a curse to be born in this region? What did we do to deserve this? Then I remind myself that playing the victim is not healthy in any way. Thousands of young men and women who decided the next morning of the blast to help instead of feeling sorry for themselves have set an example for everyone to follow.
Beirut even after the explosion was hectic. Many Lebanese started to clear and clean the streets and the damaged houses, rescuing who is still trapped in the rubble, cooking and delivering food to Beirutis. One person, who became the icon of strong will, is Mohamed, who lost his leg couple of years ago in an accident. He is now wheelchair-bound.
Mohamed became an inspiration to all, including myself, as everyday he takes his broom and starts cleaning the streets of Beirut. His message to the Lebanese youth is to remain united, to transcend divisions created by sectarian leaders, and love each other.
Since the blast what is tormenting us the most is the reason behind the blast. Who is responsible for it? More than 200 people have lost their life, and around 6,000 have been injured.
What if there are warehouses in other cities as well with similar explosive chemicals stored and hidden? What if there are houses around them as well?
While watching the young clean up the mess of successive governments, I shed a tear but smile at the same time, because I know deep down this time it is different.
This time, as the international community is stepping up to help Lebanon, mistakes from any official will no longer be tolerated.
Many Lebanese have lost their life savings to banks, who hijacked their money to pay the debts of corrupt politicians. Inflation has hit the roof, lowering the value of money earned and saved. The country's debt to GDP ratio is the third highest in the world. People have lost their houses, savings, jobs. They no longer will buy false promises of their leaders. These people have nothing to lose anymore, they are fearless and eager to seek justice. They will write Lebanon's new future.
Christiane Waked is a political analyst based in Beirut

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