The destructive nature of the Lebanese never ceases to bewilder. While we claim to be the most civilized nation in the Levant, we have managed to slowly hollow out our mountains, toxify our rivers, turn our seaside into landfills, and contaminate our air with heavy metals and cancerous fumes—and we do not even care. With perennially selective vision, we turn a blind eye to the floating decapitated cows’ heads, human feces, and plastics, and just dive straight in among them.
To observe this willful blindness, all one needs to do is go and watch our fishermen on Beirut’s Corniche reeling in their dinner from the murky sewer water. These images rightly belong to far less developed nations, but now this reality is ours.
There has been a stunning degradation in our civil behavior. While Lebanese brag about how clean their homes are, they have total disregard for anything beyond their doorstep.
Why would they care? Successive governments have failed to develop policies, strategies, or indeed any plan that will preserve the only truly valuable national asset that we have—our nature. These same government officials are the first to acquire licenses to chew up our mountains, or bicker over garbage contracts to fatten their pockets while they tan in ostentatious villas built on public coastal land.
All this did not happen overnight. Ours is a decadent culture contaminated by more than 40 years of increasing ignorance and deteriorating awareness and leadership.
The garbage is up to our necks and it will drown us—unless we open our mouths, taste the scum, and renew our calls for an environmental policy that is quickly developed, implemented, and reinforced. One that is free of loopholes, self-interest, and corruption, and one that must make amends for years of contemptible negligence toward our natural environment.