Posted by: sean | March 26, 2008

The Ministry of Foresight

When I worked at a certain UN organization, I used to make fun of the fact that one of its sections had been renamed the Division of Foresight. But the more time I spend in Beirut, the more I think that the idea isn’t such a bad one. After all, there are always ideas about expanding the number of ministerial portfolios, and I think that what Lebanon really needs is a Minister of Foresight.

One can see the lack of long-term vision on a daily basis. The cab driver would rather insist on a double fare and not pick anyone up than take regular fares and fill his car. The landlord would rather have a building full of high-priced empty apartments than a building full of tenants who pay a fair rent. The shopkeeper would rather overcharge a customer once than have his business over the long term. And this extends to all spheres of Lebanese life, political and social. There seems to be an idea that the only way to get ahead is by fucking someone else over. The Lebanese have yet to learn that while you can shear a sheep many times, you can only skin it once.

My landlord, while trying to get out of paying to repair the hot water heater told me this today: “I am Lebanese. You know what this mean? It mean, I know everything.” And in a way he’s right, because this country is full of people who think they’re smarter than everyone else and who want to prove it by screwing everyone else over. You see it in the driving, in business, in social interactions and in everything else.

And while one might argue that the country’s instability is responsible for such short-sighted thinking, I’m not so sure it isn’t the other way around.



  1. Argh. I have those days… when all the above makes me hate this country.

    < < >>

    And I am absolutely sure it IS the other way around. Don’t tell the Lebanese, though…

  2. Made me laugh. Strangely, I never felt more Lebanese than when mouthing off about the country and the people as a whole. Of course, I then did a very Lebanese thing: I left.

    Happy blogging … dave

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: