The National Anthem Debacle

As I arrived to work this morning, I ran into my manager, and after exchanging greetings, she asked me whether I tried calling someone today. I, in fact, had not. So she quickly filled me in, that trying to call anyone would mean hearing the Lebanese national anthem before the dial tone.

Because Lebanon’s Independence Day is upon us- and it’s not all about this being a long weekend. Our country turns 72 this weekend.

And indeed, when I tried to call my husband later during the day, I heard those familiar notes that we’ve learned since we were children. And I smiled for a bit, and moved on with my life. Just like I have done every single time it has come on. Sometimes, I even sing along.

But browsing through Facebook, I got the impression that people were not pleased with this little stunt the telecom companies pulled.

Their justification? What kind of independence are we celebrating if we don’t have a president, our parliament illegally extended their term, there’s garbage on our streets, and a gazillion and one problems any Lebanese person is familiar with.

While their argument is not entirely false, why should it be that bad to listen to a song? It could be way worse: they could be forcing us to listen to a new Haifa Wehbe track or something.

It seems to me that the Lebanese people are excellent at beating down things, loudly voicing their concerns, but never actually doing anything constructive. As a nation, we are excellent at armchair judging- but nothing else. I’m sure many people don’t even know the words past the first verse! Allow me to remind you:

Mind you, these are the same people that in the wake of the Paris attacks, took to social media to complain how the Safety Feature was not enabled the day before, that they couldn’t change their profile pictures to ones with the Lebanese flag overlay, that the world didn’t give a shit about Lebanon. But those very same people who just a couple of weeks shared a video of local celebrities and factions of society singing THE VERY SAME NATIONAL ANTHEM on the occasion of the UN’s 70th birthday.

And now, they’re complaining.

Are you confused yet? Because I sure am.

In my opinion, the thought is nice and takes less a minute per phone call- but it serves as a reminder of what our country was meant to stand for.  Plus, our national anthem sounds cheerful. Personally, I always have a smile on my face whenever  I hear it.

Sure, we’ve deviated from the mentioned ideals in our anthem,  but let’s take this a moment to move forward and bring them back. Why must we constantly look at things negatively? We cannot allow ourselves to get all worked up about a nice idea that probably wasn’t executed the right way.

It’s been a bad year for Lebanon, the trash crisis being the top priority, and it’s hard to feel proud of anything here right now. I really do understand that and I am just as frustrated as everyone else.

But that doesn’t mean we can’t like Lebanon or celebrate its history for a weekend, even if it is through a few seconds on our cellphones.

Kuluna lil watan. 

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