Tuesday, August 22, 2006

The Other Beirut ... The drowned out one

Beirut has long been a scene of constant frustration. After a destructive civil war in the 80's it emerged in the 90's and into this century as a truly cosmopolitan, tolerant, and groundbreaking city. While the news may tell you of Hezbollah and assassinations in Lebanon. I believe this country has or now perhaps had, more potential than any other city in the region to develop itself as a truly International force and emergent power.

I was first drawn towards Lebanon about three years ago when I was presented with an opportunity to travel there for a month, but due to various reasons went to South Africa instead. But through talking to various individuals over the years and through various readings I have much respect for this overlooked nation. First, though the government structure needs much work at a systemic level; Lebanon has a strong tradition of being able to successfully balance radically diverse interests in a respectful manner. The population is mostly Arab with a small Armenian population. This then is split religiously between mutually large Christian and Muslim populations representing various sects therein. Further this is illustrated in their government whose executive forms what they call the troika: sharing power agmounst the religious sects. The presidency is reserved for a Maronite Christian; the prime minister, a Sunni Muslim, and the speaker of parliament, a Shi'a Muslim. Next the driving force of their economy has increasing been interaction through a free-market economy with foreign firms and a developed banking system creating an average of %5 annual real GDP growth.

If you get the chance the Travel Channel is currently running a documentary entitled "Bourdain in Beirut". It will not tell you much of the news or about the political events precipitating the war, however it will allow one to see the beauty of this marvelous city and the potential it had and how all of that has seemingly come crashing down in the past few weeks.

While I do not in any form condone the acts of Hezbollah, I do feel immense empathy for the people of Lebanon and all that they have lost due to the careless and malicious acts of people both inside and outside their country. With so much hope following the removal of Syrian troops from Lebanon earlier this year, I have been truly crushed by the events of the past few weeks. As an International Studies major I make it my aim to follow most events around the world and to know general information about as many nations as possible and their political/economic situation. history, and potential. However, a few of these nations hold a special place with me--near the top is Lebanon. So I leave with this. The people of Beirut and Lebanon have overcome the Romans, Ottomans, British, and most recently the Syrians--still able to hold onto their distinct culture and way of life. Beirut may take 20 more years to regain its position but I have no doubt that it will do so.


At 9:29 PM, Blogger bombasticbeats said...

What a compelling post! It reminds me of a segment on 60 Minutes the other night about how the Dutch have been thriving lately on their communities built around tolerance and free-thinking. I hope the same for Beirut some day.

Anyway, to answer your question M. Ward is essentially a folk artist. Some say he is our generation's Bob Dylan, but I'm hesitant to make such a stark claim. Also, I finally picked up Neko Case's latest album. I am positive you would love it. It is called Fox Confessor Brings the Flood. Take care my friend.

At 9:32 AM, Blogger bombasticbeats said...

I know of Rushdie but don't recall reading any of his work. I may have read something of his in college, but I don't remember.

At 7:29 PM, Blogger bombasticbeats said...

Can't stand up? What happened?


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