We have strived to build a better Lebanon. Month after month, we have highlighted the failings of the state and trumpeted the successes the Lebanese have had, both at home and abroad.
Slowly but surely after the end of the 15-year civil war in 1990, the country and its ingenious people have moved forward. There were the good times; summers of plenty, when tourism and trade grew and it looked as though we were leaving our troubles behind us. There were also the tough times. We endured the lack of governance, the war with Israel, the rampant corruption, and the spree of assassinations. But through it all we still believed that things would get better.
Now that hope is fading. Sunny skies have given way to darker clouds, as the threat of war again knocks on the country’s door. But this time it is not a foreign enemy bringing death to our doors but Lebanese again turning on themselves.
Last month three bombs struck Lebanon — one in the Beirut suburb of Rweiss and two targeting mosques in Tripoli during Friday prayers — with around 80 people killed. While we do not know the culprits, and many have pointed to outside forces, the deaths are a result of the failure to inoculate Lebanon from the winds battering the region. We have allowed ourselves to become part of the crisis next door.
Some of Lebanon’s brightest are already planning to leave. Those that remain have a feeling of inertia — there is little that we can do as civil society and journalists to stop the tolls of war.
For those of us that have stayed here, the echoes of the 1980s are resonating. In those dark days, we turned in on ourselves. The café, the place of worship and the friendly gathering all become poisoned with a looming suspicion that death lies around the corner.
Without the security that comes from a legitimate government and a strong military, dark times lie ahead.