Yesterday I was having a late afternoon latte when my friend who owns one of the old bars in Hamra passed by and invited me to stop by for a beer, so when I finished my coffee, I headed over there. It was around 7pm. When I arrived, only my friend and his friend were there. I stayed for about an hour and a half but no one came. I asked why, and he told me business was bad because of sectarian tension. Later I went to my very dear friend's pub. He was sitting there alone at 9pm on a Friday night. The night before, he had kicked out three Sunni men who were about to cause trouble with a Shia.
Things are bad. Last week Prime Minister Saad Hariri ordered the arrest of a man at the airport, and Hezbollah folks (who control airport security) ignored the order. The politicians go on television nearly every night giving propaganda speeches accusing one another of wild and stupid things. The Tea Party folks seem sane compared to the nutjobs in the Lebanese government. The decent ones who genuinely want peace, like Hariri, are ridiculed as weak or are even accused of being agents of Israel.
As my dear Amigo said, there is fire in the ground.
It's a reality the Lebanese people have to deal with every day. Right now I'm sitting across the street from a bullet-riddled building wondering which conflict put them there. A few weeks ago some idiots spent 5 hours shooting up one part of town with rocket-propelled grenades because some Hezbollah idiot and some Sunni group idiot got into an argument over a parking space and killed each other. The city has been molten since then.
Because I've spent so much time in Beirut, I've come to have many friends here, so the conflict here has become personalized. As the Reds sit poised for their first playoff appearance in 15 years, my excitement is tempered by a sort of - how to put it? - something resembling guilt for having been born in a country where we can devote ourselves to such trivial things as baseball. It just doesn't seem fair for these people to have to keep suffering one stupid conflict after another while us Americans sit on our couches watching sports. That's why the Tea Party idiots make me so angry. Instead of counting their blessings that they were born in the USA, they whine about petty shit and make up things to be afraid of. That mentality is no different than the sectarian bullshit that goes on here.
So, go Reds! But it's not the end of the world if they don't do well. It doesn't even matter.