2014-07-08

Emotional Blackmail, A Lebanese National Sport


OK, we get it, Lebanese are emotional people. You can tell it by the way they talk loud, get angry fast, kiss an make up faster, love a lot, hate even more and all the picturesque descriptions you can muster up.
But in the midst of all this feelings fest we remain most and above all masters of emotional blackmail.

It starts with kids at a very young age. I have seen them over and over manage to get their way just by faking a cry. You know those tearless cries where the eye muscles don't even twitch? Well, parents are suckers for those and their over-protective nature makes it so they fall for it every time.
But hey, parents are not the only victims here. Flash-forward many years into their old age, and parents will whip out any excuse they have, in order to keep that kid nicely attached to their waist.
From the traditional "wait until the war is over and you will see how great Lebanon will be", to "neighbors don't even say hello to each other abroad", down to " I have a few years left and I want to see your kids grow", they have everything you can imagine up their sleeve.

Recently, brands and official entities have also decided to ride the same wave of shaming/manipulating/arm-twisting/blackmailing targeted at ...yes you guessed it...the Lebanese Diaspora...inviting them into "staying connected" *cough* send us more money*cough*.

Here, check out this collection of ads for yourself:



As unpopular as what I am about to say might be, I will say it: Leave the Expats Alone.

Stop showing them their friends back home with the iconic "I miss you bro", stop showing them weeping mothers to "my heart melts to see you once more", lonely fathers sighing to "I wish my son can come and settle in his village".
They can do well without that single road where there are a few nice trees left (before the latest real estate project took it down *wink*fire*wink*), that sunset that you can catch only from a certain angle (because private resorts block the view most of the time), that Lebanese dish that I am sure they won't miss once they realize they live safely where they are or the plethora of jumping, wiggling, boob-dangling masses at a rooftop bar which have nothing to offer except occasional self-indulgence to forget that we live in total chaos and anarchy.

So before you start humming a pointless melody to make them nostalgic, how about you stop for a second and think why these people left in the first place?
In a country so well oiled like ours they could not have left because of job favoritism due to family ties or other. They definitely did not leave because they escaped death by explosion a few times and they did not leave because someone humiliated them at some random official or unofficial checkpoint. Did they just get up and pack because they realized that every trip in a car is like playing Russian roulette? Or have they just realized that slaving to make ends meet is somehow not that attractive under the Mediterranean sun while some fanatic from either side is sharpening the tools of his trade in some shed.

No, expats left for a reason, and I am pretty sure that if you lay off the emotional blackmail for a while, they will no longer want that "Goat barn in Mount Lebanon", and settle for the comfort of the civilized places they have moved into.

For those who argue that the expats are those keeping Lebanon afloat economically I say: Maybe it is time for this country's economical model to fail instead of always hanging by a thread. Perhaps then, and only then we will really find out if the story of the Phoenix rising from its ashes is true, or just a sorry excuse to keep repeating the same mistakes over and over!