Those of us who organize and struggle for justice are typically criticized for knowing only what we don’t want and not discussing what we actually do want; no to this, no to that, yes to what?
In many of the classes I teach in environmental sciences at the university, I ask my students to envision the Lebanon they want – with no challenges (except the physical limitations) and no obstacles in their way. We people created these laws and this economy – and we people can change them. So what do you want? All too often, the students have difficulty dreaming big, dreaming wide, dreaming free.
Be realistic, demand the impossible.
Here is one vision of what I do want in Lebanon – and elsewhere, from Al-Akhbar.
I’ll be in Beirut just in time for the Erasure Festival, held every year to officially inaugurate all the public spaces that were opened the year prior. The festival started after the Council for Urban Development decided to prohibit the flattening of historic buildings, and demolish new buildings instead – buildings that don’t comply with formal and functional qualities that contribute to a good life in a good city. If you’ve been in Beirut in the early 2000s, you would know which buildings I’m talking about.
In place of every demolished building, a new garden, park, or public facility is erected to cater to our cherished communal well-being. Somewhere along the line of a series of tragic urban development strategies, we realized that a nation with a tree on its flag couldn’t neglect its environmental strategy. Better yet, we decided that a green strategy should be our guiding light, a template for our different development plans. It’s been great for us ever since.
Check it out in full here
Let’s keep on our eyes on the prize, as was said in the civil rights struggle in the US. Let’s keep organizing to build a society that is what we want, and not just make do co-existing with what we have.
Dream the impossible. The only dreams worth having.