I wrote recently that despite everything that was wrong with this country, I genuinely try to keep hope alive. One of the things that discourages me, as I’ve mentioned, is the general sense of ignorance and sheer stupidity that seems to be chemically infused into the air we breathe here. What I didn’t mention was the shameless and mind-boggling destruction of Lebanon’s historical landmarks which is going on under our noses, which unfortunately is met typically with heavy, apathy-laced sigh and resentful acceptance of the situation, instead of widespread outrage and cries for the heads of those responsible.
For those of you who ran the Beirut marathon today, I’m pretty sure you noticed something was amiss in downtown, and I’m pretty sure it looked like a giant, gaping hole in the ground where something should’ve been. That’s because it is a giant, gaping hole where something should’ve been. Earlier this year archaeologists discovered what they believed to be the remains of a Roman gate that served as the entrance to Beirut during its stint as a Roman territory. These ruins were discovered in downtown in the area in which Virgin Megastore and Le Gray are located, otherwise known as “District S”. This could have been one of the country’s greatest finds and contributions to its history. That said, you’d think everyone within Lebanon’s borders would be at least a little appreciative and understanding, right?
For those of you who nodded or were somewhat optimistic, remember where I’m writing this from. On the occasion of the Beirut Marathon it would appear that the workers packed up and left in a hurry, thereby doing a half-assed job at covering up their handiwork. The result of their months of hard work of removing the ruins and pretty much damaging them in the process-as fellow blogger Gino Raidy showed us-was the aforementioned massive hole in the ground staring back at gawking passersby.
I’m truly at a loss for words this time, but for the sake of you, the steadfast audience who has up until now put up with my prattling, I will persist. It continues to astound and vex me how the people in charge of this country just let the disfiguring of its history and culture go on, or are active in this crime. Worse yet, nobody’s taking to the streets and demanding justice. But the saddest part is that-to my knowledge, at least-nobody ever has, and this is truly a national phenomenon must fascinating: I remember on one of my summer visits to Georgia, I saw a news report discussing the construction of a Walmart near my old neighborhood. The people living in that area blew a headgasket, and after voicing their disapproval of the project and taking it to the necessary authorities, the citizens of Forsyth County shut Walmart down. We’re talking about a group of people from some random county in the suburbs giving the proverbial finger to a multibillion-dollar industry that has branches in Canada, the UK, China, and India, and boasts an economy bigger than Sweden’s, ranking 23rd in the world. Let that sink in, ladies and gentlemen, and then shake your heads in shame.
I honestly wish I would be the one to declare this the last straw and lead the masses to parliament and have them clean house, but given this country’s track record in dealing with issues such as this, I don’t think that’s gonna happen any time soon. Apparently there are rumors of the District S people promising to return the ruins, but given that they already lied about keeping them in place I don’t see that happening. And they ask us, Fi ahla min Lebnen (“Is there anything better than Lebanon”)?
Y’all take care now.
Sources: The Daily Star Lebanon