Last month, after attending Wickerpark, a friend abroad said he was impressed that Lebanon was still able to have events full of life when terror was “infesting everything else.”
For a second, I agreed. It was something to be proud of. It was a packed summer night with bands playing by the sea, people shoulder-to-shoulder with beers in hand. That we could have such a lively crowd in the middle of Batroun when the Islamic State was playing hopscotch on our borders was quite the feat. I’ve heard a lot of people say that it’s a way to fight back. To prove that Beirut will not topple over and be conquered. I’ve heard it’s a way to distract people from reality, to keep their spirits up in a situation that is out of their control, to keep their quality of life soaring in one aspect since they can’t even expect to have basic utilities available 24/7. After all, how do you stay sane in Beirut when you have every reason to lose it?
And I say “Beirut” because the country is not acting as one whole unit. Other cities are enduring turmoil while Beirut is in a bubble, disconnected from the other kilometers that make up our 10,452 km dot on the map. These same cities are not as far away as people imagine, it’s just that Lebanon has a different scale of distance since we’re such a small country.
But then I thought, “what if it’s not out of spite?” Maybe we’re not doing this to say “F*ck Daesh.” What if that’s not the real reason people party? What if the majority have gotten so distracted that they don’t know how bad things may get because they’ve distanced themselves so much from what is really going on? The more you surround yourself with the comforting feeling that nothing’s changed and everything is okay, the more you will begin to believe that nothing is at risk of disappearing. I had heard about the beheading of another Lebanese Army soldier while being at a Decks on the Beach party. People danced the night away and I couldn’t help but wonder if they all knew the news.
I’m tired of this place being known for two extremes mashed together: bombs and hedonism. There is more to us than shrapnel and bikinis. Read Warren Singh-Bartlett’s post on Why Beirut Really Matters. Sure, I go to concerts and parties, and I live my life like nothing’s changed but maybe that’s the problem. Our spirit shouldn’t be sacrificed; I’m not suggesting we should stay indoors and just wait for the shit to hit the fan. I just worry that we may not even see the shit coming until it hits us in the face.