And on my many travels when I ask locals how they spend their weekends, the question is often met with a resounding “we don’t know, we eat, we go out to the mall, we have an Arguile…” by people seemingly oblivious to the beauty of the natural environment around them and the wonderful nature reserves calling out to be appreciated & enjoyed.
We have a piece of Heaven on Earth in Lebanon we don’t appreciate, we have a piece of Heaven on Earth we don’t realize the value of till we’re separated from it.
While we’re in Lebanon we constantly whinge about everything yet when we hop on a plane & leave, we yearn to return. We leave for a few days & we begin to miss the air, the oxygen, the atmosphere, the family life, the greenery, the nature reserves, the watermelon, the Lebanese cucumber, the tomato & all the beautiful things that Lebanon gives us. These things are all beautiful yet we also recall how they were different 10 years ago, 20 years ago & how our father’s & grandfather’s stories of times of old were of a different, better period. And now it’s our turn to protect and preserve Lebanon for us & our children, so we can look them in the eye in 10 years from now & tell them “we preserved Lebanon for you”. And so they can also do the same for their children and look at them and say “we took good care of Lebanon for you”.
Lebanon is a treasure in our hands and no one other than our very selves is going to come & look after it for us. We can do this in the simplest of ways. It’s up to us & just us. Even if money rolls in from abroad, even if politics & advisories play their part, we and only we can preserve & protect Lebanon.
It’s not dollars or political seats that will preserve Lebanon, it’s a sense of civic responsibility and a lack of selfishness that will preserve it, no matter what. In this way, we will have taken care of Lebanon & allowed it to continue to be “a7la ballad bel 3alam”… the most beautiful country in the world.
Today, Lebanon is not at fault. If you want to curse the country, don’t curse it, curse its leaders. For it is a magnificent country & place of huge significance. In the same way, you would not allow yourself to curse your mother, do not curse Lebanon.
Enjoy Natural Protected Reserves Day on the 10th of March. The hope is it can become an official public holiday we mark each year. We look forward to seeing you in Lebanon where it is safe & remember, hope is our fuel to keep us going & get us through all the challenges.”