By Dana Khraiche
Illustration by Tamara Barrage
Is it me or traffic jams have been increasing on a monthly basis with infinite excuses every morning; school, tourists, foreign visits, bridge closing, accident on Jounieh highway when I’m heading to Beirut, and these tend to recycle themselves with no exhaustion.
I realize it’s dull and overdone to write about traffic in Lebanon; it’s as if I’m telling you the sky is blue. But traffic is part of the dysfunctional society we attempt to survive in.
I’m quite bored of reading about how traffic is horrible and listening to people nag on morning shows or on TV. The common thing is at the end of the show everyone says “what are we going to do?”; we settle.
Basic living conditions are not fulfilled and all we do is nag on morning shows through text messages and vent off while driving home. And when I start a conversation about social needs and survival, politics finds its way into the discussion and diverts our attention to daily newspaper headlines.
We are easily distracted by daily politics and it’s evident since most of us have suffered tremendously from it. But I think, and give me a chance here, politics is a tool of distraction; it’s a tool for us not to see that street lights have not been switched to solar energy, that traffic is an hourly event, that water is polluted spreading diseases, that our electricity is a private generator, and our social welfare is on the brink of disaster.
Politics is standing in our way; it’s an obstacle and not, what it’s supposed to be, a tool for resolutions and solving problems.
Observe your news report at night, they begin with politicians rather than the people, our problems. Reports about traffic and social problems are the last segment of news reports. I’m glad we’re more important than the weather!
I understand the exterior political risk, the ideas of surviving in the region, the complexity of the complex, but we are distracted by the behavior, relationship (at times, personal) of our servicemen and women (our politicians), instead of focusing on our daily life.
In Lebanon, it seems as though politics is an excuse for negligence; an excuse to leave all our problems behind and focus on what He said and what the other replied.
I will not call for change because I’m not Barack Obama, and I will not gaze into the sky and utter words of freedom because I’m not (you could insert here any of our politicians). I’m asking you today to change your ways and perception.
And I realize that most of you will probably ask: “What? Should we go on the streets and demonstrate?” just like the morning presenter replied to the problem of bus drivers. My answer is absolutely no.
Our change is intelligent, civilized change. It’s through our daily lifestyle, behavior, attitude towards problems and politicians. It’s perhaps ideal but it’s doable; it’s doable because it’s time.
So, instead of calling your Drive Home radio show to vent off, maybe you should take it to your representative and maybe, just maybe, accountability would take place.
There’s a big hole in our lives filled with useless politics, I think we need to come to a point where we take out the trash.