Lebanon 2021

Lebanon 2021

View of Jouneih, Lebanon, eight miles north of Beirut, and the eastern Mediterranean Sea. Beneath this idyllic setting an active volcano of sorts lurks. Always blessed with scenic beauty and welcoming citizens who possess boundless optimism and a penchant for adapting to any situation, the country has faced one catastrophe after another for 46 years. It began with a civil war [1975-90] that resulted in more than 100,000 deaths. Although the conflict ended and the country rebuilt, the divisiveness that caused the war has lingered. Rival family clans, Muslim and Christian factions, an inept and corrupt government that places self-interest above all, and the misfortune of being strategically located between two warring countries – Israel and Syria – have kept Lebanon a chaotic mess. Yet, somehow, last year it got worse. A massive amount of ammonium nitrate, stored at the Beirut port, exploded. The blast, one of the largest non-nuclear events in history, killed more than 200 people, left 300,000 people homeless, and delivered a crushing blow to the vaunted Lebanese spirit. More recently, the country’s banking system, weighted by unsustainable debt, collapsed, spiraling the country toward economic ruin. Among the many absent necessities: One hour or so of electricity daily is the norm for generator-less households. Yet those who remain and soldier on with great courage want to believe that somehow, some way the past can be recaptured. As a native son I root for them and wonder: What else can they do?

Lebanon 2021

Lebanon 2021

View of Jouneih, Lebanon, eight miles north of Beirut, and the eastern Mediterranean Sea. Beneath this idyllic setting an active volcano of sorts lurks. Always blessed with scenic beauty and welcoming citizens who possess boundless optimism and a penchant for adapting to any situation, the country has faced one catastrophe after another for 46 years. It began with a civil war [1975-90] that resulted in more than 100,000 deaths. Although the conflict ended and the country rebuilt, the divisiveness that caused the war has lingered. Rival family clans, Muslim and Christian factions, an inept and corrupt government that places self-interest above all, and the misfortune of being strategically located between two warring countries – Israel and Syria – have kept Lebanon a chaotic mess. Yet, somehow, last year it got worse. A massive amount of ammonium nitrate, stored at the Beirut port, exploded. The blast, one of the largest non-nuclear events in history, killed more than 200 people, left 300,000 people homeless, and delivered a crushing blow to the vaunted Lebanese spirit. More recently, the country’s banking system, weighted by unsustainable debt, collapsed, spiraling the country toward economic ruin. Among the many absent necessities: One hour or so of electricity daily is the norm for generator-less households. Yet those who remain and soldier on with great courage want to believe that somehow, some way the past can be recaptured. As a native son I root for them and wonder: What else can they do?