What the Arab Revolutionaries Can Learn From the Lebanese

Yesterday I wrote about what the Lebanese should learn from the Arab Revolutions. But like with so many other things in life, learning is rarely a one way street. And after having spent a month and a half in Egypt (and spending time with people from some of the other countries on revolution-path), I’ve noticed one thing that the Lebanese could definitely pass on to the rest of the region: How to party through a crisis!

So far, most of the Egyptians that I’ve met have seemed very open and warm and welcoming. When they suggest to meet for coffee one day, I actually get the impression that they mean it. At least in their heart. Because physically, they seem very tired. It’s like the revolution has drained everyone of energy and so even though their intentions are the best in the world, when you try to make a fixed appointment you can see a fatigue cross their face that makes you sorry you ever suggested it.

And it’s not only an Egyptian thing. I was speaking to someone who lives in Syria and he mentioned that it was the same there. And the revolution is just getting started there!

So I began thinking about some of the stories my parents told me about life during the civil war in Beirut. Yes, those were hard times. Very hard! But they still managed to have fun. There were times where my parents would sit on the staircase (the only place a grenade shot from the street wouldn’t reach) and get drunk and discuss if it would be better for my dad to lose his head or his feet (seeing that one part of him had to rest in the hallway of our apartment). Once they had company from Denmark, who needed to get back to the hotel, but couldn’t because fighting had erupted in our street. So my dad went down, found the nearest militia leader and made him negotiate a 15 minute truce over the walkey-talkey with the other militia leader, so that the Danish friends could leave.

I’m not saying that civil wars or revolutions or uprisings aren’t hard to get through. Of course they are. And I know the Lebanese are often considered shallow by many other Arabs. But I have to commend their ability to love life and make the most of it no matter what the circumstances are. So while I hope the Lebanese take their lessons from the revolutions, I hope just as much that other Arabs will take their lessons from the Lebanese.

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