The Memory Tree honors victims of the terrible famine that wiped out a third of the country's population a century ago. That same fickle, self-serving politics by Lebanon’s rulers has now plunged the country into a spiraling socioeconomic crisis, which is pushing people into hunger once again.
The Lebanese had managed to destroy their country in 1975 without Syrian help. Still, the Syrian occupation in Lebanon, a prolonged obscenity in itself, helped to thoroughly corrupt Lebanon’s institutions, public life, public servants, and ultimately all Lebanese, even as it shaped the fate of the country’s politics and factions.
Finding freedom, Maronites promptly feuded with each other — victims of neither empire nor Islam, but of themselves. For centuries, chieftains fought chieftains and factions fought factions.
Chehab’s central idea – replace the missing sultanate with a modern nation-state and a government guided by the consent of the governed – remained fixed in the minds of his most fervent supporters. Yet even they found themselves either exiled or politically marginalized within Lebanon.
Many people were baffled when President Michel Aoun recently said at a press conference that Lebanon could be on its way to hell. I, too, was baffled. How can we be on our way to hell if we had already arrived months ago?
It felt like love, that initial part of the thawra. Like love, there was a total transformation of consciousness from the solitary I to the rapturous we, only here we was the people, al-shaab, al-shaab al-lubnani.