The 10,450 sq. km area on an atlas known as Lebanon is celebrating its 69th independence day today. Located in the midst of all the chaos which appears on news headlines, Lebanon is mostly mentioned in stories related to strife and war.
Lebanon has a past full of wars and conflict, a present of tension and corruption, and a future of instability. Its people are born with innate resilience, as though they know what is awaiting them.
We are a stressed population, I admit. The stress begins as we wake up to the car honks. As we get ready to go out of the house, the electricity cuts off. While driving through a narrow one-way street, a car decides to enter against the direction of the traffic (ironically forcing the lane to back away to let it pass, even though it is clear that the car is at fault). As we wait at a red light, we get honked at for waiting for it to turn green. And, this is all just part of what it means to be Lebanese.
Other typical Lebanese traits you won’t hear about through the media:
– We call everyone habibi (my love), even strangers.
– Our middle names are our fathers’ names.
– Our spoken language is a mix of English, Arabic and French words. “Hi kifak? Ca va?”
– We have family members all over the world.
– We live the term “fashionably late.”
– If a Lebanese reveals his hometown and his family name, another Lebanese can automatically find out his religious and political backgrounds.
This last one is the main flaw in us. Sectarianism has become rooted in the Lebanese to the extent that “Lebanese” is not sufficient when describing our identity. Still, on our independence day, we remember and celebrate the one flag and three colors of Lebanon. It is on this day that we feel Lebanese, as a whole. And it is on this day that we all feel united under the name of our country. However, look at us Lebanese throughout the year and you will see the other political flags which shake our national loyalty and drag us into belonging to different colors according to which political party we support.