Stories from Afar & Up Close

“I’m not only perfect, I’m Lebanese too!”

perfect… It's the text on the extra tire and on a bumpersticker I saw in the United States. And it is a philosophy of life. Lebanese people are better at everything: their food is tastier than any other kitchen, they invented the alphabet and are the most highly educated population, the Lebanese women are the most good-looking women in the world, their accent the best-sounding of all Arabic accents, their sea the most beautiful and their snow the most enjoyable.

They are even better at being at war than any other country. During my research last year I came across the funniest phenomenon: people spoke with such pride about their behavior during war that it almost seemed they had wanted it to last a bit longer, just so they could display that fantastic behavior for the whole world to see. They compared themselves to Iraq, and found the Iraqis to be losers. Broken windows? They would fix those things straight after every explosion. People staying away from school or work? They would never let a war stop them from doing what they were supposed to do. And crime? No way, Lebanon was the safest country, nothing ‘illegal’ happened during any of all those wars the country has seen. (That many written sources completely contradicted this image of the absence of chaos during war did nothing to change their utopian views of Lebanon).

And recently, when a huge drugs- and prostitution cartel was rounded up by the French police in Cannes, largely consisting of Lebanese pimps (implicating the son of an important Lebanese politician, I believe), my friends only had one comment: of all the prostitutes that were found, the Lebanese girls had been the most beautiful, the most expensive, the most in demand…

I guess you should take every opportunity you have to boost your confidence if you live in a country as screwed up as this one.