A hardcore right-wing capitalist, very vocal on free enterprise and economic liberties, a bit too much to the taste of
a fellow hardcore left-wing socialist, desperately trying to bring this impenitent capitalist to his views and into atonement, but to no avail, taking solace in
another hardcore left-wing socialist steering so much to the left she sometimes closes the loop, ending up on the right, next to
a right-wing conservative minding her own business, and
an anarchist, minding his own business as well, distractedly listening to
a moderate left wing progressist, always agreeing to disagree with his conservative fellows, while
another moderate, right in the center of the political compass this time, is carefully listening to the argument and then doing as he pleases.
Oh, and me.
These folks do not share many features, apart from the fact that they are human, speak the same language and happen to exist in the same place and time. Oh, and they share a very active chat group over WhatsApp and have lunch together at least once a week and have been for years.
It happens that they also share the same origins. All Lebanese, living abroad. You saw it coming did you not?
As you might or might not know, religion and confession are core defining attributes of one’s political and social self in this small country, at least in the eyes of the Lebanese State, and this group is a good enough representation of the Lebanese society from that respect: Sunni, Shia, Catholic, Orthodox. But also, believer, agnostic, on a quest. And even more than that:
Despite their very heated arguments over lunch or over chat, they do appreciate each other’s presence on the table and in the chat group, and they appreciate each other even more as people. In fact, they are quite good representatives of the Lebanese society from that respect as well. Yes, the same society which tore itself apart in a 15 year long civil war and is still struggling in the midst of one of the worst economic crisis ever.
Why? How? Well let me argue, at the risk of puzzling the audience, that the people in this country are naturally tolerant and well meant towards each other despite the war and the difficulties faced by their homeland. How can they not be when they amount to 18 communities still cohabiting in this small land and having been for centuries? Had they not had minimal social skills, the landscape would have been much more uniform I suppose. Let us just say that the tolerance they display to each other has sometimes extended to leaders who should have rather been shunned.
To be honest, I did not want this post to be about Lebanon and the Lebanese people specifically. I wanted it to be a nod to these seven folks who joyfully fuel their lunches and chat groups with their differences and idiosyncrasies. So here’s to you folks, you might recognize yourselves if you are reading me.
Let me know what you think in the WhatsApp chat. You know which one.
PS: who’s in for lunch on Friday?
Let the board sound