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The Lebanese Waste Revolution: Dignity and the Birth of Lebanese Public Opinion #طلعت_ ريحتكم

The Lebanese Waste Revolution: Dignity and the Birth of Lebanese Public Opinion  #طلعت_ ريحتكم

Take a look at our Lebanese protestors, at least the ones I have seen: An assemblage of religious women wearing headscarves standing side by side with hipster secularists; civil war veterans and young men not old enough to remember 9/11; disavowed workers and contemplative poets chanting the same chants; pregnant mothers and wide-eyed children each displaying their respective validity in the same square; religious men and LGBTQ marching side by side; capitalists, environmentalists, federalists and yes, anarchists… These are people with outrageously diverse pseudo-ideological stances and social identities, but they have one main point in common: Human dignity…

It seems this is a lesson that is very difficult to understand. Our history is plagued with the consequences of politicians and peoples who refuse to learn this eternal lesson: What fuels people’s madness is an assault on their human dignity.

“Political disagreements” don’t fuel demonstrations. It is not dispute over utility prices, nor social classes, nor religion, nor economic development, nor urban projects, nor judiciary reform, nor taxation, nor electricity cuts, nor megalomania that drive people to the streets, it is the strike on their human dignity. Dignity runs a lot deeper than respect. Respect is earned, whereas dignity is a birthright. It is our inherent worth and value; and striking anyone’s inner worth and inner value wakes the beast in them. 

When the state of affairs in a country is so dismal that the state literally coerces its own populace to straddle over piles of gnawing filth in order to enter their own homes; when the state of affairs in a country is so abject that it forces its own populace to literally bathe in their own feces because the sewers and the slimy drippings of the summits of garbage have seeped through the water pipelines; when the state of affairs in a country is so wretched that enforced unemployed young men with no security lifeline have to opt for being hooligans and follow corrupt political orders just in order to feed themselves, the fight is no longer just a psychological torment, it becomes physical. And physical it became. Yes, the internal security forces have a duty to protect public property, and any breech of a barbwired fence will be met with police protection, that is the law, but strike the people, physically, on their faces as they are simply clamouring for a sterile urban environment and you just fuelled the fires of hell in a disavowed nation. A nation that not only has been continuously disparaged, abused and economically raped by its corrupt political leadership, but who has just been beaten up by its own compatriots in official uniform who ultimately represent nothing but the sad reality of a degenerate system that they themselves are a victim of as well. We all, demonstrators, hooligans and police officers alike, live in a country that assaults our human dignity on a daily basis. You strike human dignity, you awaken unforgiving demons. That is the superseding law of the human condition. 

Recognizing the inherent dignity and the equal and inalienable rights of ALL members of our society, each of whom is imbued with value and worth, is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in every nation. Categorizing the Lebanese people is an assault on their worth, don’t do it, not even in your casual conversations, don’t dignify some over others. Don’t engage in a “they” and “we” dichotomy. That is what the political rulership does to us, and that is why they were able to rule on their own terms, but we should never do it to ourselves. The hooligans are “we”. The police officers are “we”. The demonstrators are “we”. The blinded partisans are “we”. And that is the start The powerful effects of seeing, hearing, and acknowledging others for what they have suffered is the ultimate unifying force that will have the power to pick up this nation and put it on a journey to enlightenment and face the political corruption of our nation, undivided, unadulterated, unfiltered.  

With this idea present at the core and backbone of your thoughts, from there on, you should know that the resignation of PM Tammam Salam’s cabinet is at the very, very tail-end of an immensely alarming, deep-rooted problem that needs much more than the resignation of PM Salam: that of a political feudal rulership that sucks all resources out of the country, unaccounted, unsupervised, unshamed, and which to a certain degree, PM Salam is not even a part of. 

These are the feudal lords who have their own private villas boxed in “security squares” in the middle of our cities shamelessly closing off main arteries of the city because they have the audacity to showcase that the horrible, daily commutes of citizens are certainly secondary to their own comfort and luxury. 

The same feudal lords who have closed the political system in order to concentrate power in a narrow faction of society that they are a part of as they set up political and economic institutions that enrich themselves and impoverish the nation of its natural resources, wealth and opportunities. 

The same feudal lords who have established a corruption-based state, with the weakest form of rule of law, which widens the rich-poor gap and retards the potential of our nation for their own benefit. 

The same feudal lords who rig huge political electoral machines that buy votes and dispense patronage, and design policies that uniquely deliver power in excess to themselves exclusively through corrupt manipulative transactions whereby they take a cut from everything, and curtail other’s ambitions in they don’t include them in the pie. 

The same feudal lords who continuously insult the “Lebanese people” and shamelessly disparage their demands for minimally decent livelihood, as if the Lebanese people were only a bunch of flies who swarm around their pie.

The same feudal lords that stratify our society by ridding us with a crippling fear of “others” as they make sure the citizens selfishly associate with a clan by forever attempting to strip the dignity of their other compatriots who, they are told, should deserve “much less” than them. 

The same feudal lords who reserve the right of ownership of whole industries to their own connections, freely engaging in price fixing that only serves their pockets, saturating the important markets, and turning all governmental ventures into monopolies or duopolies that persist for as long as they, the beneficiaries, are in power, limiting equality of opportunity and annihilating growth for the people of our nation. 

The same feudal lords who leave us with a shortage of jobs, dismal salaries with no flux in the market, causing an incredible hemorrhage of talent, yet continuously slap those who stay with an exorbitant cost of living (38th highest in the world). 

The same feudal lords who make us pay the price of their wretched corruption everywhere we go, because our Lebanese identity carries on its shoulders the weight of all our national shortcomings wherever we may go in the world. Ask every Lebanese passport holder what it feels like to travel abroad…  

I reject the political rulership class. I reject every single decision they may make or take, no matter how advanced it may be today. Lebanon is becoming a FAILED STATE, by all standards, measures and attributes, and it is fully, effusively and entirely due to the fact that we allow rulership to be in the hands of gray-faced corrupt men who harbor a blasphemous sense for division, but absolutely no sense for public service. It is a contemporary social science fact that first-world nations like Great Britain, the United States, France and Japan all became rich because their citizens toppled the elites who manipulated power and controlled wealth, and their people effectively redistributed political rights across a broader segment of society, a society where the majority of people took advantage of economic opportunities available to all, and where the government stood accountable and responsive to its citizens. There is no secret to how a country becomes developed, it is entirely and exclusively due to the development of egalitarian, transparent politics and economics by the people, for the people.

So there is a great test for us here today: Our actions can only result in significant change if this extensive section of society continuously rallies and heavily lobbies for prompt political change by mobilizing itself not to dominate the self-serving political and economic systems, but to turn these self-serving institutions into more egalitarian ones ON OUR OWN TERMS. Our fight is with the feudal lords. Whether this all-encompassing national spirit and this contingent course of action can empower our nation and result in long-lasting political reform will depend fully on us and what we decide to create together, it has nothing to do with the responsiveness of the political rulership. We should be the ones proposing plans of action, not merely waiting for politicians to propose plans of action, in fact, we should reject everything they offer because none of the MPs are legitimate representatives, nor were they elected by us.  

As a fellow compatriot of yours, I vow to, in the next few days, propose said solid plan of action with fellow key citizens and mobilize ideas of growth and development, starting with the waste issue, which I happen to be well-versed in. I would love to have you on board, do drop me a message so I make sure you are briefed. 

#طلعت_ ريحتكم

Written by Sara El-Yafi

44 Comments

  1. Adam Farrah · August 25, 2015

    I will fuckin move back to Lebanon if you lead the country. You are brilliant, Sara El-Yafi, in a unicorn-like type of way. I hope you become our president.

  2. Yasmine Mikati · August 25, 2015

    Can we pause and comment on how pretty you look . Now pause again and agree with all you just said . <3

  3. Sirine Ghandour Jawhari · August 25, 2015

    Shared

  4. Amany Saghir · August 25, 2015

    You are a blessing to our country Sara El-Yafi !

  5. Issam Yafi · August 25, 2015

    انت يا ساره فخرنا

  6. Amira Ghandour Moumneh · August 25, 2015

    I was thinking today that women should be in power to get rid of all the filth and start a true reform. Well done and more power to you!!

  7. Jamal Tayara-Baroudy · August 25, 2015

    Sara i trust your judgement and guidance good luck! you are a gem! Bless all the good thinkers.

  8. Elo Koko · August 25, 2015

    How did it even get to that? It’s such a health and safety concern, it’s appalling. Poor people.

  9. Sulaiman Abu Hulayel · August 25, 2015

    Poor Lebanon. It certainly deserves better leaders than those shameless ruffians. This breaks my heart as an eternal lover of Lebanon since childhood. Keep on writing my beautiful friend

  10. Robbie Kazandjian · August 25, 2015

    Good luck Sara. Lebanon needs “non feudal warlords” like you.

  11. Khurshid Marwat · August 25, 2015

    I need your autograph beauty queen.

  12. Ali Fadlallah · August 25, 2015

    More people like you please!

  13. Raymond Khalife · August 26, 2015

    We are all on board with you Sara, we need to keep the pressure on these warlords who have spoiled our life and the life of our children!

  14. JP · August 26, 2015

    Way to go Sara!
    I am an avid reader of your posts and truly enjoy the passion for Lebanon that permeates through your writings. As a die hard Lebanon lover I want to voice my support for any organized civil action that can bring the current political crass to be accountable.

  15. Lina Sergie · August 27, 2015

    Very brave statement. Human dignity for all. We are with you.

  16. Zeinab Alhasan · August 27, 2015

    Sarah my sweetheart entebhi 3a 7alak. Courage… I am sure it is the beginning of change. I wish I could be there too. Our country needs us!

  17. Rosie Khalil · August 27, 2015

    U rock!

  18. Nabil Ghandour · August 27, 2015

    Very good

  19. Hussein Itany · August 27, 2015

    You are in town?

  20. Asma Jaber · August 27, 2015

    well put dear.

  21. Adib Samara · August 27, 2015

    Amen…

  22. Molly Stacey · August 27, 2015

    Sara. So clearly and poignantly written. I was waiting for your word! Let me know anything I can do from here.

  23. Issam Rawda · August 27, 2015

    الان بدأت المعركة الحقيقية…
    مسألة الحائط ليست جبنا منهم…… انما ذكاء وليس بالذكاء العادي….. انما بذكاء الداهية !!!!! ادرك الداهيه وتصور ان المواجهه تجلب المشاعر الجياشة…. وتجلب الرأي العام العالمي وحقوق الانسان والصحافة العالمية وتفتح عيون العالم على الوضع اللبناني الفساد اصلا !!! …. واقاموا الحائط…. وارتاحوا من الخارج … هنا سجل الداهية النقطة الاولى على زملائه الفاسدين وتباهى فيها….. اما الوضع الداخلي ادرك الداهية ان الثمانية عشر طائفة مع المشاكل التي ينادون بحلها والتي لا يحلها الا العز وجل سيتجابهون بين بعضهم البعض خلف الحائط حيث لا قائد وطنيا لهم يجمعون عليه …. و سنيتج العديد والعديد من الافراد والجمعات تتنازع في طرح الحلول للمشاكل والازمات الوطنية والاقليمية والعالمية …… وتزتاد الانقسامات …. ويتراجع كل الى موقعه خلف طائفته مناديا لزعيمه بالوقوف الى جانبه !!!! وتعود الكره ونزيل الحائط ونفتح الطرقات. … وهنا سجل الداهية النقطة الثانية القاضية على زملائه الفاسدين حيث انحوا احتراما له…… المعركة الحقيقية هي مع هذا الداهيه وهي في ايجاد هذا القائد الواحد الذي يجمع عليه اللبنانين …. لقد كانت تجنعات السبت والاحد اول خطوة في المعركة وانتصرنا وصمدنا في المواجهة مع اخواننا الامنيين ونجحنا وبقيت الخطوة الثانية التي هي الاصعب بكثير من الخطوة الاولى حيث كنا نراها في اعيننا في تلك التجمعات المباركة كنا نبحث عن قائدنا اجل عن قائدنا وكانت اعين مواطنينا على اجهزة التلفزة تنتظر ظهور هذا القائد لتتشجع وتنزل الى الساحة….. والداهية يدرك ان ما من احد يملك صفات القائد في صفوف الصالونات الفاهرة والا لكان علموا فيه. ويدرك ايضا ان لعبة الطوائف والاحزاب والازمات السياسية والاقتصادية والاجتماعية والامنية والدينية والمعيشية والاهم البيئية التي اثقلت كاهل المواطن اللبناتي لا يمكن لمثل تلك المشاكل ان تنتج شخص يملك صفات القائد….. وهنا ينتصر الداهية ويسقط تحركنا ومطاليبنا في جياب حاكمينا وتبقى الازمات وتزداد وتصبح تلك اللحظات السعيدة التي شعرنا بها في ساحة رياض الصلح ذكرى نحكيها في مجلسنا المتباعدة عن بعض ونتسأل ماذا كان ينقصنا لنكمل واين اخطأئنا حتى تفرقنا. هذا الحائط اللعنة ليس انتصارا لنا كما تخيله البعض انما انتصارا للداهية …. اليوم نزلت متأخرا على الساحة وتأملت المنظر عدد قليل من المواطنيين : شباب تتناقش على الخطوات التالية واخرين بدوأ بتأسيس حركة تدعوا المارة للانضمام اليها حتى ومجموعة من الفتية يتناولون الحجارة لرشقها على خينا الامني واخرين يسترحون مع نفس اركيلة وفي واخت لنا تروح وبتجي وهي بتنادي بكل حماس بكرا التجمع الساعة ستي. والداهيه والفاسدين يقفون خلف الحائط الداهية مطمئن والفاسدين قلقين …. ويهمس الداهية في اذن احد الفاسدين لو كانوا جديين كانوا تحركوا بغير مناطق فورة ببسي و يضحكون…
    ان حتى صمودنا في الساحة دون الاحتكاك مع اخواننا الامنيين .يشجع اخواننا المواطنيين في كافة المناطق المتأملين بنجاح تحركنا في العاصمه للتحرك والتجمع في اوضاع سلمية حتى لا نرهق قواتنا العسكرية ةيسبب قلق للداهيه …. وحتى ظهور ذلك القائد مدنيا ام عسكريا …. تصبحون على وطن المعركة الحقيقية بدأت وعقارب الساعة تحركت …. من سيربح ؟
    افتخر انت لبناني….. لا للتراجع
    #كلنا محمد القصير
    #مستمرون

  24. Issam Rawda · August 27, 2015

    سنغفتو (sangafto)
    كلمة سنغفو هي الكلمة التي يستعملها اللبنانيون فقط ..وهي تعني للذين لا يعرفوا معناها انني على خلاف معك ولا اريد ان اكلمك بعد الان … والداهيه قرر ااتنتقال ااى الخطة باء . …. وهي على الشكل التالي وقرر الداهية تنفيذها :
    1- اوعز الى زملاءه الفاسدين المتمثلين بنجس الوزراء بتوقيف اخر سمسرة بينهم للظهور على انهم يهتمون للشأن عكس ما يدعيه المواطنيين (انو على مين بعدون عم يضحاكوا وين الدراسات التي تحدد اسعار طن الزبالة قبل ما توصل الى نجس الووزراء) …المهم وبأفتعال خلافات (وكأن البلد بتتحمل يعني) على قضايا وملفات اخرى في جلسة نجس الوزراء
    2 يفضح الوزراء بعضهم البعض علنا وعلى عينك يا تاجر وينقسمون بين تمانية يا عيني واربع طعش يا ستار او بالعكس…..
    3 يبدوأ بتشكيل متاريس وجبهات ويتحفونا بأفكارهم الوطننية ووجهات نظرهم القريبة والبعيدة….. وكأنوا البلد بألف خير حتى يضيعون وقتهم الثمين من جيوبنا في تلك المواجهات السرمدية عبر وسائل الاعلام وكأن البلد ناقصه تعطيل ملفات وقرارات لتسيير امور المواطن …. وهون جاءت كلمة سنغفتك

    ويتضمن سيناريو الخطة باء ان طرح المشاكل والازمات علنا سوف يتسرب الى صفوف المواطنيين المعتصمين في الساحة وينقسموا فيما بينهم مدافعين عن اشباه زعمائهم وتدخل هنا وسائل الاعلام في لعب دورها في تأجيج المشاكل علها تستقطب جماهير وعمولة اكبر وهذا ما يشوه تفكير مواطنينا الاعزاء في التردد في التوجه الى الساحة….
    هذا ما اماله الداهيه وهذا الامر لن يحصل ابدا
    لان المشهد اليوم في الساحه لا يوحي بهذا الشي
    اولا: كانت هتالك احتفلات جماهيرية تحتفل بسقوط الجدار واصبحت ترى ان الدخول الى السرايا اصبح وشيكا…..
    ثانيا : اليوم تلاحم اخوتنا المواطنيين الامنيين مع اخوتنا في الساحة مع حصول بعض عمليات الكر والفر البسيطة مقارنة مع ما حصل نهار الاحد المشؤوم من سقوط خينا محمد القصير جريحا منازعا بين الحياة والموت وسقوط خينا الامني باكيا……
    ثالثا : والاهم من هذا كله اخوتنا هم الذين شكلوا الحاجز البشري مدافعين عت مواطنيينا الامنيين من بعض هفوات الفتية المتحمسه للانتصار بدلا من السياج الشائك وهذا ما لم تلحظه وسائلنا الاعلامية……. حيث شكل هذا صدمة للداهيه وكادت تسمع ضربة يده على طاولته لولا ضجيج الاحتفالات….
    وسوف نشكل صدمة اخرى له نهار السبت في مسيرتنا من قصر العدل الى الساحه…
    افتخر انت لبناني …. لا للتراجع
    #كلنا محمد القصير
    #مستمرون

  25. Norma Kobeh · August 27, 2015

    God bless you!!!

  26. Bilal Y. Saab · August 27, 2015

    Sara, in the interest of disseminating your powerful and eloquent word, I would be more than happy to ask colleagues at the Atlantic Council, where I am a Senior Fellow, to run a trimmed version of your piece. That is, of course, if YOU are interested. Your word deserves wider circulation. Please let me know. God bless you for your positive activism.

  27. Bilal Y. Saab · August 27, 2015

    And say Hi to your genius brothers, with whom I enjoyed playing soccer when we were kids.

  28. Nasser El Hout · August 27, 2015

    The fight should not be limited to the cabinet since all of the corrupt leaders are hiding behind it and accuse it of being inept.

    The fight should be taken directly to the corrupt leaders specifically to koraytem, ain tineh, clemenceau, and rabiyeh in phase one. If the people hold together and stay as one, then we have hope for change. If these 4 bastions of corruption fall, the rest of the dominos will follow.

    These are the same people that slaughtered and killed us during the war. Do you seriously think they have the conscience to care about some garbage? They act like the country is a sinking ship and they want to loot as much as possible before it goes down.

  29. Myriam EL-Khoury Malhame · August 27, 2015

    Sarah for PM!!

  30. Hounada Diab · August 27, 2015

    So proud of you Ya Helweh

  31. Souad Aoun · August 27, 2015

    Well said Sara

  32. Colette Majdalani · August 27, 2015

    God bless you sara

  33. Nicole Razzouk · August 27, 2015

    Applause, applause, applause

  34. Salwa Hadati · August 27, 2015

    Hi Sara i like your comment we need to have a decent goverment

  35. Rima Mardam Bey · August 27, 2015

    Wonderful article we are all proud of having such honest and daring Opinions ! Let’s hope for the best

  36. Mona Yafi · August 27, 2015

    Lebanon needs people like you! Excellent article!

  37. Zeid · August 27, 2015

    Great perspective, as always

  38. Randa · August 27, 2015

    We are all proud of you Sara El-Yafi

  39. Jamal T. · August 27, 2015

    ” when the state of affairs in a country is so wretched that enforced unemployed young men with no security lifeline have to opt for being hooligans and follow corrupt political orders just in order to feed themselves, the fight is no longer just a psychological torment, it becomes physical.” Brilliant

  40. Bruce Albright · August 27, 2015

    I was just thinking about you Sara El-Yafi. NPR had a story on the waste/trash/garbage problem in Lebanon. I’m glad you’re trying to do something about it. Are you back home for good?

  41. Dana Mansour Hable · August 27, 2015

    Dear Sara, you have such eloquence, charm, and wit!
    May you become a famous writer like you deserve it…

  42. Joseph Saade · August 27, 2015

    I love Sara and love her brain

  43. Rita Mittica Saadeh · August 27, 2015

    Belle comme la lumière du jour

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