Archives for category: Politicians

My last few posts about life in Lebanon have been largely negative, so I thought I would write a little about a few thoroughly positive experiences I’ve had in the past two weeks. Two in particular stand out.

The day I was leaving for Istanbul (technically the day before) I headed to Beirut to spend the afternoon padding along the streets of the capital which, for me, is somewhat of an event. It was still cool then, the mountain breezes were still taking a stop in Zahle before rushing through the Beqaa to fill other souls with momentary bliss. Walking down to the monastic school down the street, I found that (I had forgotten) General Aoun was about to speak to a sizable crowd of neighborhood locals. Rassieh looked like it had walked out of The Netherlands, there was so much orange (the General’s party’s color) everywhere, on all the houses, flags, posters, everything. A woman, much in the same vein as World Cup fans had earlier this summer, refused to let people walk past her without stepping under her FPM flag (among whom I was one). Couldn’t avoid it. It seemed like my part of the neighborhood (noticeably cut off at the small LF office up the street) is a big fan.

I don’t have strong feelings for Aoun, only that it’s interesting to have a Christian politician swimming against the current, so to speak. As a former passive supporter of the Party, Aoun and the Free Patriot Movement stood out to me as something worth at least checking out – so I did, largely because it was so darn convenient. It was pretty fun: everyone was smiling, waving flags. Once inside the venue, the Lebanese National Anthem was played (Kulluna li-lWatan!) and the General started speaking, the topic being: “Stop Sacrificing the Lebanese Youth to its Elderly.” Interesting stuff.

Regardless of my political indifference, it was just fun to see everyone so happy when he got there: all the security guards were smiling, and they were very helpful with a few issues I was having, and the participants were all enthusiastic.

The other experience was later, as I had lunch at Sa7et al-Nejmeh in Downtown. A small family sat at the table next to mine: A Lebanese father, a Filipino mother and their two children. After all that I had heard and witnessed of the treatment of foreign workers in Lebanon, it was wonderful to see what looked like a happy, mixed marriage between a Lebanese Arab father and Filipino mother. The children all spoke Arabic, and the mother mostly English, but they seemed to be quite successful and were having a nice time.

Over here, life can be resistant to change. But it happens sometimes, creeping up on you – at least, it does here in Lebanon. You can call it whatever you want: the Lebanese expat community returning with new value-sets, the fruits of education, or some ingrained trait of the Lebanese people. One way or another, change comes along for the better if you wait long enough.

You just have to work on your patience.


General Michel Aoun of the Free Patriot Movement

In spite of its poorly organized website, informs me that Gen. Michel Aoun, leader of the Free Patriot Movement, will be visiting Zahle to make several appearances around the city, one of which will be in the neighborhood of Al-Rassieh this coming Friday, which is conveniently nearby.

I have pretty mixed feelings about Aoun, but it could be a fun experience to see him talk. Here’s hoping I can attend!