A chat with Nasser a 27 year old Lebanese waiter offered an amazing perspective about the messy situation in Lebanon. When meeting a fellow compatriot, Lebanese in general try first to identify the person's religion and their hometown in order to avoid any unsensitive comments and have a somehow normal conversation.
I asked Nasser is his family was doing well after the war in Lebanon. He said that even though they lived in Southern Beirut, Al Dahie, their house stayed intact with some broken windows and very little damage. Well, that statement told me that Nasser is a Shiite and might be a Hezbollah supporter, and I needed to be sensitive in asking him about his opinion about the war and what kind of solution he sees out of this mess. Anyway, I am never interested in a heated debate with a complete strager, besides I am always interested in what people think and why they think this way.
To prove the cultural developmental theories right and my assumptions wrong, Nasser was a Shiite but not a Hezbollah supporter. He said that many of the people who joined to the party were there for the check they get at the end of the month and for the power trip. A much smaller percentage of Hezbollah members are attracted to the ideology, according to Nasser.
He felt that it is unfair for any party to keep Lebanon in turmoil and to deny a stable country with a booming economy that supports young Lebanese who have dreams of going back home and building businesses there. Even though he appreciates the money he makes working as waiter in Kuwait and that supports his family in Beirut, he feels cheated out of his dream to work in the fashion design industry and apply his college degree in a business he loves.
When Nasser quoted Ziad Rahbani's socio-poltical satire, I knew I am able to ask more specific questions about his political affiliation. Ziad Rahbani is a world famous musician, a philosopher, a play writer and a socio-political critic and a genuis. A true patriotic he exposed many of my generation who listened to him religiously, to a world beyond rhetoric, Arabism and destructive resistance. I was pleasantly surprized to see that Nasser's generation is influenced by Ziad's words.
Nasser is aware of the corruption in the Lebanese Government as well as in the opposition parties. In his opinion the International community should support the economy in Lebanon so that people like him go back to the country and become the new set of Leaders who can pull Lebanon out of a tribal-feudal system to a more structure nationalistic and capitalistic country.
No, no more defining people by their religion or ethnicity. It is people's value-systems, beliefs, morals, aspirations that define how they think and why they think this way.