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MY DECLARATION: ZIAD ABICHAKER
For the 100th anniversary of the proclamation of Greater Lebanon, Agenda Culturel is providing the cultural, business and medical Lebanese figures with a platform to share their thoughts and emotions, and proclaim their own statement, one century later, and one month after the ruthless apocalypse that befell Beirut.
Environmental Engineer and Activist
How do you perceive Lebanon’s 100th anniversary?
A few years back, I wanted it to be a celebration … but as time went by, I questioned what would we be celebrating? Honestly, now, the only mood of celebration I am in is the “end” of this corrupt republic and the ushering of a new one. This land dates way back more than 100 years and it saw many brilliant minds and hearts give it their utmost best. I know we still have those minds and hearts around us, I see them everywhere they are waiting to take their turn building for the next 100 years…
How did you experience the catastrophe of August 4th?
I was sitting in my studio in Badaro when the building started shaking and the big blow swept everything. My immediate thought was “who did they kill now?” As shock settled, I went roaming the streets and thinking this is an “inflection point”, the deadlock has been broken, although lots of people died but the history of Lebanon changed course at 18:07 that fateful 4th of August. Maybe it’s too early to tell or see, but eventually we will all see the silver lining of that Beirut Blast. The old republic died with a bang and that same bang ushered in the new Lebanon.
Do you consider that Lebanon can become a real nation?
I am not very comfortable with the concept of nations. There is always an underlying sense of exclusion in nations, a type of “us versus them” mentality that I abhor. Throughout history humanity benefited the most from diverse societies: Athens, Rome, Abbasside Baghdad, Andalusia. In modern times, places like New York and Silicon Valley have brought forth the most incredible achievements of humanity so far by bringing together brilliant talents from all over the planet. I love the diversity we have here. I celebrate it and I truly believe the more we all embrace it the better we will all live and prosper. It takes courage, love and wisdom to embrace diversity. I think we as Lebanese have no choice but to embrace it.
Have you been considering immigration, or is Lebanon your final destination?
I came back here in 1996 and made this place my only home. When I left the US my professor asked me “why are you leaving? Stay, you will have a promising career here”
- “I will only be a drop of water here”, I said.
-“What will you be over there?” he asked
I replied “I hope I will be a cup”. I am not going anywhere, I am still filling the cup.
In these historic days, what would be your own « Declaration for Lebanon »?
A society run by honest leaders who have the vision to create justice, prosperity and enlightenment.