Beacon of hope

Fireworks explode over downtown Beirut, Lebanon, during New Year's celebrations on January 1, 2019. AFP / Anwar AMRO

Whenever people talk about Lebanon, they primarily mention its outstanding cuisine, historical significance, fabulous locales and venues and the endless variety of activities offered to those visiting the country.

But the truth is this country’s greatest strength has always been the resilience and optimism of its people, as was demonstrated for the world to see with tens of thousands of people flocking to Nijmeh Square in Downtown Beirut to partake in a New Year’s Eve jubilee welcoming 2019.

The festivities included a select group of artists and performers who, besides the Lebanese, drew thousands of people from Arab countries, and topped with a dazzling display of fireworks that drew global praise.

This was a significant show of a positive mindset, especially in a country without a government for at least seven months, an economy that continues to deteriorate, a neighbor that incessantly beats the drums of war, and in a region where conflict seems to be the single constant.

Despite all these dark clouds, the ever-hopeful Lebanese people braved the cold and rain to descend upon the capital in order to be with their fellow countrymen as the country made its mark among the top 10 New Year’s events worldwide according to National Geographic.

Credit for the elaborate festivities goes to the Beirut Municipality, which under the instructions of Premier-designate Saad Hariri put together one of its greatest achievements, but it was the people, their perseverance and hopefulness that breathed life into this spectacular event.

The obvious question is how the Lebanese can remain jubilant amid such challenges. The answer is simple: After decades of weathering myriad crises, each of which seemed insurmountable, the Lebanese have always emerged victorious, with an attitude that revolves around the motto, “This too shall pass.”

The world and life can fling any number of catastrophes at this country, but in the end, it is always the sense of hope and goodwill that prevails.

As New Year’s Eve festivities showed, nothing can break the spirit of these remarkable people, and that is why Lebanon will always endure as beacon of hope.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on January 03, 2019, on page 1.




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