miércoles, 2 de abril de 2014

Lebanon's nonevents

This morning I woke up, brushed my teeth and went to work. Normal day.

However, by 10 am I had received four e-mails from security services, followed by text messages, followed by me looking at the news, followed by me calling my husband to prevent him about a protest here, closed street there, army presence here, checkpoint there... Downtown was full of trucks with young armed soldiers wearing their "I mean business" look.

My morning went by.

I went out to grab a bite with my colleagues around 1 pm and all streets in downtown were still closed. We had to walk around for four blocks in order to find an opening in the barbed wire wall that the security forces had put up in the morning.  My colleagues and other pedestrians were merrily chatting and walking on the deserted streets, while taking selfies and joking about how wonderful it would be if the streets remained car-free.

When we came back an hour later, a group of 10 soldiers and maintenance workers were pulling back meters and meters of barbed wire into a very ingenious three-pronged contraption on the back of a truck that kept the barbed wire neatly stored. It was like a scene after a parade of some sorts, with that eerie silence that follows a loud event, only interrupted by the swoosh of brooms sweeping the dirty street floors.

But this had been no parade, of course. Judging by the many meters of barbed wire, the authorities had feared the worst and were really preparing for the worse case scenario.

I arrived back to my office, and it really dawned on me. None of all those things that we were worrying about, notified about, warned about, briefed about and informed about happened.  What did happen in reality was that people took the streets of Beirut this morning because Parliament was voting on a law that would entitle a public entity's contractors with benefits and a more stable employment status. Judging by what I read in the news, the outcome was positive. Then everyone went home.

What happened in my mind was the effect of the series of e-mails, text messages, soldiers, guns in the street and meters and meters of barbed wire.

Was all that really necessary? Aren't we all overreacting?

I spent my entire day fearing for something really, really serious to happen. And then my day went by, uneventful. I arrived home, exhausted. Being paranoid is really tiring.

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