On October 17, 2019, Aroused by the infamous “WhatsApp” tax decision, the Lebanese hit the streets to protest against a taxing government who was failing to deliver the minimum social services in return. That night was a turning point in the Lebanese history, protests continued in the days that followed, in several different locations, blocking main roads and highways, and inhibiting normal working hours, as a result, the Lebanese banks among other businesses had to shut down for few weeks. In addition to this rumors regarding the failing of banking sector prevailed, which made depositors run to their closest ATMs to withdraw anything they can from their saving accounts. The increased demand to withdraw deposits in a very short period of time stressed the banks, which lead to the unofficial capital control, and banks had to put a limit on withdrawals, especially on foreign currency, as a reaction of self-protection.
The period also witnessed currency devaluation, which lead to hyperinflation. By the beginning of July, 2020, the currency had devaluated 84.2%, and with economic activities much affected, employment rates receded, and many businesses began to pay half salaries or shut down. Accelerated by the pandemic that hit Lebanon early March, the Lebanese economy is now collapsing. No family with a legitimate means of income is left unaffected by the situation, and the streets are once again filled with protestors asking for their minimum rights.
Despite initial enthusiasm, the political deadlock combined with the accelerated economic collapse led to many desperations which made many to frantically search for a way out, in the form of emigration.
Yes. If we look back to the history we see either a war, a conflict, or an economic crisis shaking our livelihood repeated every 15 years. Yet the main question remains: should we leave Lebanon?
I will burst the bubble and give you my final thought. No, we must not leave Lebanon, and here is why:
Every immigrant will face certain difficulties whether financially or psychologically while trying to integrate in the host country, given the differences in cultures, mentality, not to mention the different standards of education and skills required to acquire a job. The cost of fitting in a host country exceeds far beyond the costs we have to pay to live in ours. If we are strong enough to bare the hardships of being an emigrant from a bankrupt country, then we are strong enough to bear any difficulty in our homeland, where we grew up enjoying its resources. Now is the time for us to give back, and sometimes giving back means being patient.
The 1990’s were characterized with huge outflow of Lebanese out of Lebanon. While personally being acquainted to many, almost all take pride in their brave decision to leave, however every time they visit back and be invited to our “big” houses and “generous” dinners, they feel the need to admit that they wish they found the settlement they had in their hometown. Despite their accomplishments, high positions and incomes, most have an unfilled void.
My last and most important point, the fact that you should leave or not relies on what Lebanon means to you. If Lebanon is this small land ran by warlords and nothing can be done about it, then maybe you should leave. However before you do, let me tell you my opinion, Lebanon cannot be defined by the corruption that prevails in it, Lebanon is also this piece of land with perfect climate and beautiful fields, perfect for agriculture. It also enjoys a geographically strategic location facing the Mediterean Sea, which facilitates exports to say the least, if local industries are supported. Finally it is this beautiful land where its services sector has grown so strong, and almost any area is a perfect touristic setting. Lebanon has always attracted foreign investors because it is the land of hope, if only we could be patient enough to witness it rise again.
I am not implying that it’s easier to live in Lebanon rather than to leave it, however I am asking you to consider if the country should lose its vital human resources and let those who cannot leave be the victims, rather than stand in solidarity, even in events of unprecedented hardships.
Lebanon needs deep, structural, political, economic, cultural and environmental changes, and to witness these changes we all need to accept responsibilities, and become actors of change. After October 17, we have increased awareness about our desperate need for this change, furthermore the current crisis has changed some mentalities that had prevailed among people, which hindered development. In addition to this, we have also witnessed a more politically vocal youth, with rich knowledge, and smart solutions. All these can become foundations of the change we need, which gives us a hope for a better tomorrow.
I think it’s time for every person to define exactly “what Lebanon they wish they’d live in” and work hard to achieve it, after all everything comes with its price tag, and even though it might sound as an impossibility right now, but to live with integrity and dignity in your hometown is the highest reward you might get.
يلفت موقع النهار الإلكتروني إلى أنّه ليس مسؤولًا عن التعليقات التي ترده ويأمل من القرّاء الكرام الحفاظ على احترام الأصول واللياقات في التعبير.