Lebanese social life
Posted by adiamondinsunlight on December 6, 2008
I have been slowly working my way through one of my recent Lebanon-themed purchases: a copy of The Green Guides: Beirut and the Republic of Lebanon, written by Rouhi Jamil and published by the Catholic Press in June 1948. Its another ebay purchase, and was a bargain compared with the $45 I see it being sold for elsewhere.
This book is unlike most of the other guidebooks I have found over the past few years – its focus is on educating the reader about the country, rather than on practical advice. There is no information about currency conversions or the costs of various transport and lodging; hotels are relegating to the very last page, and are listed by name only, with no indications of ratings, amenities or costs.
But what the book does focus on is fascinating – at least from my point of view. Did the author really think that tourists would be so interested in maps of the rainfall patterns in the country (p. 45) or its winds (p. 48)?
I suspect that what readers would have taken with them was less the information about Lebanon’s climate and more about its other features – like its social life.
Here’s what Jamil has to say on that subject:
It is agreed that social life in Lebanon has never been sudden or unusual, or an accidental event due to haphazard circumstances; rather is it a complete whole perfectly sequenced, and in view of which Lebanon has continuously acted ever since the day it was constituted as one of the firmest exponents of human civilization and one of the most essential backgrounds of that magnificent and majestic achievement.
Whew. I needed to take a breath just after typing that sentence. So social life in Lebanon is both a sign of the perfection of human civilization and the foundation that made this perfection possible.
But that’s not all.
Lebanese social life is, therefore, the result of this double and profound action which, while exerting a definite influence on the life of the Lebanese people, enabled the latter to conceive, in an original manner, Truth, Knowledge, the Good and Civilization, all of which are fundamental spiritual values without which life is meaningless.
I will never, ever, look at an invitation to spend the evening at someone’s table at Sky Bar in the same way.