Massaya Newsletter, August 2023

The Fluid Nation

   The Lebanon of this Summer reminds us of the Lebanon before the financial crisis and the August 4, 2020 explosion.

A kind of a tourist destination in a trance with an energy that defies the rules of gravity.

The reasons for the collapse are far from settled, the investigations and audits have been neatly tucked away and none of those responsible for the collapse and/or the explosion are worried. The complications and obstructions are piling up in indifference. The appointments of key civil servants are frozen and the prospects for reform have become thin. In fact, we have the impression that following the financial meltdown, we are carefully undercutting the foundations of the modern State.

   Thus, we welcome the influx of "tourists" this summer with enthusiasm, the restaurants are full to bursting, the roads are congested but we remain without electricity or infrastructure, waiting for justice, and still, no one to rebel or strike.

For some it's called resilience, for others recklessness. For me, it's the Phoenician genome: The question is not whether the "republican order" will be restored or not... but how the nation will adapt to the litany of chaos without vanishing! 

Professor of prehistory, Maria Eugenia Aubet defined the Phoenicians in these terms: "a people without a state, without territory and without political unity."

In modern Lebanon, political unity has rarely existed, and we have always been more numerous abroad than in intramural Lebanon and our "modern state" rarely tended to its citizens.
  This fact did not prevent us from prospering, but beyond our borders, thus the Phoenicians settled in their "colonies" of Crete, Cyprus, Malta, Sardinia, Carthage, Marseille, Cadix, Lisbon...

Indeed, these tourists that Lebanon welcomes this summer are mainly Lebanese from abroad, our diaspora, our daughters and sons from overseas. They constitute the breeding ground of the nation, often educated and qualified people, brilliant in their professions.

Erstwhile, the Phoenicians, our ancestors, were not only skillful navigators, but they were also excellent farmers, talented craftsmen, and season traders. Phoenicians' warehouses and settlements were tolerated by the locals as they brought their know-how! This added value was often viticulture. Leafing through the brochures of wine cellars in Spain and Portugal, it is not uncommon to find the Phoenician as roots of wine culture... even in Crete, Sardinia, Malta...
The parallel between the long-stay visa and the process of wine crafting makes me smile!

Obviously, the cycle can take 3 to 5 years between the first plantations and the first wine sip... during this period, the pragmatic Phoenician could wander to other activities, discover new trades, and therefore had to integrate into local society. An apprenticeship that turned into an exchange program. Once assimilated, the Phoenicians brought back their newly acquired know-how or wealth to their city of origin and thus the trade was mutually beneficial and above all, peaceful. 
Centuries elapsed, and we are still in a country without a common doctrine, without a unified head, without sovereignty, what brings the nation together is humus and savoir vivre, our roots and ancestors. We continue to be a nation with variable geometry, a fluid nation in search of individual enrichment and waiting for enw chaos to push further the frontiers of knowledge and discoveries.

Cheers to Zenon, the only known Phoenician philosopher who was believed to be so fond of wine that he died from overconsuming in a single seating!
Massaya advocates responsible drinking.

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