The citizens of Lebanon will not be wearing black as a tribute, they will be in white.
The city of Beirut hangs on a string of what it once was, a luminous, bustling tourist hotspot and a land of cultural and religious diversity in the Middle East.
An explosion on Aug. 4 teared down Beirut Port, ripping through half of the city and resulting in destruction that spread 10 km — shockwaves were felt in Cyprus, 250 km away. The explosion, still under investigation, was ignited by the presence of 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate stored inside Hangar 12 at Beirut Port; this highly explosive material was neglected for almost seven years before what appears to be a fire had it destroy Beirut.
Lebanon had already been slowly suffocating before the explosion for almost a year, with forest fires burning through its mountains, deep inflation feeding the social class divide, and mounting unemployment leaving thousands of families below poverty lines. These were followed by an intense economic crisis, a lack of sufficient healthcare, and almost nonexistent electricity across the country. Put aside the protests that took the streets in October of last year, which soon enough were accompanied by a 70-percent devaluation of the currency, the novel coronavirus pandemic had the Lebanese believe this is as worse as it could get.
None of the citizens saw an even worse reality than the one they were already living, until the explosion happened.
People have lost trust in their government — not that the majority had ever had any spec of trust in the ruling class. The government has been incompetent in terms of aiding their citizens, which is why none other than the wounded and homeless along with people from across the country showed up to sweep the streets from the debris.
On Monday, the country's government officially resigned to "stand with the people." The big heads, however, remain in place.
The recently assigned ministers who had assumed position after previous Prime Minister Saad Hariri had resigned late October - later replaced by Hassan Diab - failed to avoid the mushroom cloud that killed over 200 and injured over 7,000. They failed to ignite positive change; their resignation, whether by choice or by consequence of that of Diab, will lead to no good.
Giving the same leaders the power to reelect a new government will be only followed by more disasters. Soon enough, Lebanon's devastating history will need an encyclopedia to document the traumatizing incidents it keeps on experiencing.
Still, resigned or in power, the public saw no remorse on the faces and in the tones of the politicians... so they took to the streets to offer their help.
The citizens of Lebanon are not their economic crisis, forest fires, social unrest, or inflation and poverty. They are especially not their government.
In a nutshell, the Lebanese have become each other's crutches.
After the explosion, thousands of citizens employed themselves to help each other in any way, shape, or form. On the day of, endless lines gathered at hospitals to donate blood for the fallen victims, while others began to offer their homes for the recently homeless.
On the day right after, business owners of every single type of industry offered their services to rebuild homes. Over 80,000 houses had been destroyed, with 300,000 individuals now homeless and mourning the loved ones they lost.
Where was the government meanwhile? Nowhere to be seen or felt, only begging for foreign aids and claiming an international investigation into the catastrophe would "mask the truth".
The people persisted nevertheless and did not - nor did they have the luxury to - wait for the politicians they had elected and reelected to lend them a hand.
Psychological experts paraded their advice online almost immediately, asking people to take time off of social media to avoid the devastating visuals. Hotels and resorts, those still in good shape, opened their doors to the homeless. Interior designers, engineers, and architects ran to demolished sites to assess the damages.
A week has passed and youngsters are still spending their days cleaning and fixing the streets and homes; mothers and local NGOs are cooking for the workers and volunteers.
The citizens of Lebanon have learned, crisis after crisis, to be self-sufficient and to offer help in any way they can, because if they didn't have each other, who would have their backs?
The land of the Cedars of God, a country with a dazzling nightlife and an even more breathtaking day-life, has not been destroyed. The citizens of Lebanon will not be wearing black as a tribute because they are not mourning the death of a country. They will be in white, as a tribute to its rebirth on the hands of the people, and the people alone.