“Who has  the time to focus on the environment?”

I was told this by cab-driver who threw his tissue out of the window of his car in Hamra. He then proceeded to talk about the international tribunal pertaining to the Rafik el-Hariri assassination. While the tribunal is definitely important, and I asked him if he lived in the tribunal.

He looked confused, and said no. He said his country means the world to him, and that he wants to protect it. I then asked him why he pollutes it, and he had no answer.

This is our country and our home, and we should treat it as such. Would you throw your trash on the floor of your living room? Would you allow trash to flood your balcony? Would you swim in your toilet? When we treat our environment this way, this is what we do. We abuse it, and we hurt ourselves.

We as Lebanese are interesting in that we claim to be nationalists politically, but have plunged our environment into a state that it has never been in. Perhaps it is because we are traditionally not focused on the environment. Perhaps it is because we are so used to be being picked up after by housekeepers and Sukleen garbagemen that the idea of actually doing something for ourselves seems strange and novel.

I’ve heard lots of fun things about this. For example:

 “I’m not supposed to pick up trash, that’s for maids to do!”

“Cleaning up the beach? What do you think I am, a member of Sukleen?”

“Public transportation? Do you think I have no class?”

“Environment? I agree with you, but let’s wait for the government to do something about it!”

Sad, isn’t it? Claiming loyalty to the nation, refusing to clean it up or take care of it, and then complain about the situation, saying “This is Lebanon?”

  We complain so much about our country. Here’s an idea: LET US FIX IT. It takes much less effort than we actually think. Reducing waste, re-using certain materials, and recycling can go a LONG way. Avoiding littering, not wasting water and electricity, and the conservation of natural resources are all individual responsibilities.

I won’t wait for any government to look after the nation, particularly with one as weak as ours. It’s up to US. Let’s do it. Enough excuses, enough whining, and enough complaining. Let’s take care of our home, our land, and our heritage.