by Loulwa El Maalouf
Have you ever driven in a chaotic country with poor traffic management? Driving in Lebanon requires a new level of focus and spatial awareness. When you sit in the driver’s seat in Lebanon, you must become like a superhero, like Daredevil or Spiderman. Your senses are heightened and working together. You have to quickly predict the moves of those driving around you. For example, when a traffic light is green, you need to check if someone on the right lane next to you will speed ahead of you to make a left turn or if someone on the left lane next to you will pull a right turn. At an intersection, you will also need to check if the cars opposite you acknowledge their red light or if cars from the crossing street ignore traffic lights and decide it is their turn to turn. You also need to check if there is a traffic patrolman standing somewhere on the side giving directions to cars that are not in line with the traffic lights. To sum it up, in Lebanon, driving laws are treated as merely a suggestion.
Not only are driving laws in Lebanon a suggestion. Due to current realities, expiration dates of medicine and food items have become mere suggestions as well. With inflation causing absurd prices- add to this frequent severe lockdowns- Lebanese families don’t think about throwing away a box of expired Aspirin. After all, who knows when Aspirin in Lebanon will become extinct? And what about food items? Well, the rule now is that if something looks good and smells good, you can ignore its expiry date. Simply stay away from food that smells bad or has insects coming out of it!
The terrible living conditions throughout Lebanon are felt enormously in the northern Lebanese city of Tripoli where protestors have recently been back on the streets. Some Lebanese people, like many living in Tripoli, do not even have the “privilege” of eating expired food. They rely on day-to-day work to provide bread and food for their families. The recent string of lockdowns has not helped their conditions. Back in October 2019, protests were dance parties; today, they are riots. But apparently the Lebanese corrupt elite are neither moved by dance parties nor by riots and martyrs. Whether these rulers are backed by their ideologies, bank accounts, or followers who would blindly fight for them, they seem bent on staying in their positions forever.
But will they stay forever? History teaches us that the greatest of rulers eventually fall. So, what now? Until the rulers change, and the corrupt system of lax laws lets up on its suffering of people, what are some things the Church in Lebanon and elsewhere can do?
Until Christ comes again, blessed are the churches who are stepping out of their comfort zone and serving their community expecting nothing in return. Blessed are those who are Christlike in their giving and sacrifices, and who are not hindered by those exploiting their kindness. Blessed are the two coins of the widow.
Loulwa is the Director of Partnerships at ABTS; she lives in Lebanon and obeys traffic laws.