One thought on “Preach, Arnold.

  1. Lebanese Expat October 24, 2012 / 8:27 am

    An Open Letter to His Excellency, President of Lebanon, His Excellency the Prime Minister, all Members of the Lebanese Parliament, all leaders of Lebanese political parties and all Lebanese both in Lebanon and around the world,

    Firstly, I wish to regret the events of the Achrafieh bombing, and God rest the souls of all those killed in the event. This is a tragic event for Lebanon, particularly the families who have lost a father or mother, a son or daughter, a brother or sister.

    I am a Lebanese expatriate, born in Australia, with Lebanese citizenship. My father’s family left Lebanon over a century ago, my mothers, 40 years ago – therefore I have never lived in Lebanon. I have visited Lebanon, which I still consider my home, several times. I love it with all my heart and will never deny it as my home. Each day I work tirelessly to make a living in Australia and keep up with life, and keep my family fed and comfortable. I also work tirelessly to help the image of Lebanese in Australia – as many see us as a barbaric peoples thanks to a minority of the community who the media use to portray Lebanese here as ungrateful Australian citizens.

    I write to you in hurt for a country that I hope one day, me, like many other expatriates around the world, would be suitable enough to return to, make a living, raise a family in a decent and orderly society, and contribute to its development – but in the current climate, the country offers me nothing but a holiday destination, that I can only dream of living in.

    My first question is to all of you, why do the affairs of Syria, Israel and the whole region dominate political life? Rather than discussing the issues of our own country, the government is still discussing interference of Israel and Syria in the government, in political life, in day to day life. But what about the other more pressing issues that never get discussed by government, but would change the lives of Lebanese, such as:

    1. Finding the thousands of missing persons who were taken during the Civil War, and since;

    2. Responding to day-to-day issues such as traffic, public transport, social welfare and the like;

    3. Providing at least the basic infrastructure to help the economy grow, such as high speed and readily available internet, running electricity and clean water to all, a public transport network that connects the countries great cities, a proper sewerage system that does not damage our environment (and the list goes on);

    4. Actually implementing laws such as an electoral law, that does not serve the interests of a party, but rather, the electorate; and one that does not give rise to sectarianism, but rather, builds trust between sects so we don’t feel the need to protect our sects against others;

    5. Supporting our youth so they stop moving out of the country, by creating employment by investing with the private sector on large nation building projects such as mass transit systems, a second international airport, rebuilding Tripoli, and establishing a high speed nation wide internet network.

    Will any of the above ever be considered?

    My second question is, (if I do have the right to vote at the 2013 election from Australia), who do I vote for? As a Maronite, I have two options, the March 8 or March 14 alliance. There seems to be no alternatives. So do I vote for a party allied with another party who still holds weapons in the name of resistance (but nonetheless weapons that have been used in 2008 against Lebanese for political gain); or do I vote for the other bloc who are allied with Islamic extremists who wish to associate themselves with the Syrian crisis? My options are limited. Whilst I respect that each party has a political ideology, there just seems to be no choice for me, a young individual, who would prefer to vote for a party that will actually invest in nation building, invest in its youth, and make Lebanon a viable alternative for living, so maybe then I can consider coming home permanently, sending my children to a great Lebanese school and university, and allowing them to grow up in a tri-lingual word with the potential to use this as an advantage and become wordly people.

    I have such a deep respect for those young people in Lebanon who remain. I love seeing tweets and facebook posts with vision, with talent and with a hope for Lebanon by these young people. My heart breaks when I see tweets and facebook posts by these same people saying they can hear gun-shots, or saying they can’t wait to flee Lebanon. Why should they have these thoughts? Do you want them to join me, and the millions of other Lebanese around the world in becoming expatriates?

    To these young people, I hope you do remain, because you can use your vote to make change. I can’t (well not yet anyway).

    I haven’t lost hope in Lebanon, but as a citizen of our great country, I just ask of our leaders, that they reflect on the below, and try to re-set our leadership’s priorities (just a little bit, just to make our home a better place):

    1. Rather than trying to rid our government of Syrian intervention, or backing the downfall of the Syrian regime, why don’t we focus on building true Lebanese politicians with a national plan for Lebanon that does not make mention of any other country but Lebanon;

    2. As an expat, part of a body of people that bring $12 billion into Lebanon’s economy, I would really appreciate being able to have a say over who represents me in parliament. I would love to vote for the region my family come from – not because I want to keep its sectarian balance, but because this is where my family own property, stay and spend when we are in Lebanon. It is therefore in my interests that I vote for who will best meet my needs in this area.

    3. Can you make me WANT to move to Lebanon? I would really appreciate this. Life in Lebanon is great. I love the fact that I can walk down the street in Achrafieh, Hamra, Saida, Sidon, Tripoli, Batroun, Bcharre, Zgharta, Jezzine etc etc etc, and talk to anyone about anything. I can’t do that in Australia, because people would just think you’re have something wrong with you. But in Lebanon, our openness and love for other people is something I treasure and would love for my children to grow up in this environment.

    4. Have we thought of solving any of our problems diplomatically? Politically? Yes, I know. This will take such a long time. But why don’t we sit down with Israel (as against their very existence as I am) and set out an action plan for peace, the return of the Palestinian people, the demarcation of our border and the withdrawal of their troops from our nation. Yes, there are so many points of contention, and this could take decades, but patience is a virtue and persistence is the key. Or is violence the only answer? Just checking whether the former has been seriously considered? Or Is this too dangerous?

    5. When will there be serious attempts to build national infrastructure? Or will political bickering and disagreement over the smallest of matters mean that these items never get consideration???

    6. Why are party’s so sectarian based? Why can’t the 50-50 Christian/Muslim allocation in parliament be maintained (if necessary), but filled in with members from parties based on liberal, democratic, republic or labour-based parties. Parties with national not international interests? Is this possible? Can we ever have any serious parties with a sectarian mix? PS> I don’t consider March 8 or March 14 to be such, these are groups of parties that are either Pro-Syrian regime, or pro-Free Syrian Army. They are not groups they are Pro-Lebanese Mass Transit System, or Against-discrimination of women. Sectarian tendencies still seem to dominate.

    7. Finally, will I ever be able to move back home? A tear is bought to my eye trying to think this day will ever come.

    Anyway, I hope you’ve had time to read this amid all of the current chaos, but please put our people’s interests first. We have such a beautiful country, but we make it looks barbaric. We have such a beautiful culture, but we make it looks barbaric. We have history as good as the Romans, Greeks and Egyptians, but we don’t give time for anyone to focus on these.

    Please work to make Lebanon a home where we can all re-consider whether we need to live abroad.

    I love Lebanon, I love you all, and I hope you can love us too.

    Best regards,

    Lebanese expatriate.

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