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Opinion and Editorial

Lebanese should learn to help themselves

Christiane Waked
Filed on September 4, 2020

The recent visits of French President Emmanuel Macron on August 5 and September 1 were looked up to by a majority of the Lebanese who are craving for a saviour

Pain, either it makes you bitter or strong. While Lebanon is going through its worst economic crisis, I can't help but think what good can come out of this?
How is this going to affect the Lebanese? Is there a silver lining to this situation? This year, the Lebanese pound has lost 80 per cent of its value leading to hyperinflation. The blast at Beirut Port on August 4 has caused a collective economic loss of about $15 billion, says Marwan Abboud, Beirut's governor.
The recent visits of French President Emmanuel Macron on August 5 and September 1 were looked up to by a majority of the Lebanese who are craving for a saviour. There was also a petition doing rounds in August to put Lebanon under a French mandate. Around 55,000 Lebanese had signed it.
But I think it is time we take charge of our own country. The Lebanese must realise once and for all that no one can really save them but themselves. Their loyalty must be towards Lebanon only.
Hezbollah, on the other hand, also require a great deal of soul-searching. The group has been blindly following the Iranian strategy, which is harming Lebanon and could lead to its own destruction.
Surely, President Macron should be appreciated for the efforts he is making to help Lebanon but the Lebanese must also assume the responsibility for the state they are in. For the last 30 years, they voted for the same political class that kept exploiting their trust, stirring sectarian existential fears, and robbing the country over and over .
We can't move on if we don't learn from our mistakes; self-introspection is needed in order not to repeat the same mistakes.
Of course, we need a push from the international community to get back on our feet but it is up to us to rise from our fall. When I was a child, my grandmother used to advice me to always rely on myself and not be dependent to anyone. I grew up during wartime in Ain El Remmaneh, a popular city in the suburbs of Beirut where survival was tough.
When we are on a survival mode, we pick up new skills, learn how to adapt, and challenge our creativity and strength to get through poverty.
Necessity is indeed the mother of invention. I remember how my older brother used to recycle things and manage to sell them when we were young. Even my childhood friend used to sew her own clothes, making the coolest outfits and even selling some of them. I remember how my friends and myself challenged our creativity in times of need. Lebanon depends heavily on imports but there are many ways to change that and lower our import dependency.
The country imports 85 per cent of its food, a fact that must be changed considering the variety of fertile agriculture lands that the country has, from the interior plateau of the valley of the Beqaa to the ones going from the sea to the mountains. The land allows the farmers to grow both European and tropical crops.
As this month marks the centennial for the State of Greater Lebanon, the latter must take the difficult challenges that it is facing to achieve true independence at all levels.
Christiane Waked is a political analyst based in Beirut

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