Lebanon, My Homeland

by Public Relations Office - Cedarville, OH

By Cosette Fox, Ph.D.

“So what do you think of the war in Lebanon?” Whenever I was asked this question this past summer, I was perplexed. I did not have a clear answer. The Lebanese part of me hated the war and all that it entails for my country and my people, whereas the logical part of me saw its potential long-term benefits.

I was born in the east part of Beirut right at the beginning of the civil war. The first 15 years of my life were all spent in war. My mother, brother, and I immigrated to Canada when I was 15, right after what we thought then was “the last war” — Syria’s invasion of the Christian part of Beirut in 1991.

Lebanon is divided almost in half. The north part of the country and eastern part of Beirut are mostly occupied by Christians, whereas the southern part of the country and the western part of Beirut are mostly occupied by Muslims. The religious identity does not necessarily reflect a personal relationship with God, but rather a cultural as well as a political identity. The two segregated groups do not only differ in religion but also in their way of living and their degree of identification with the Western world.

I remember the various wars Lebanon went through, some between Muslims and Christians, some between political parties and the national army, and some with neighboring countries. I remember waking up in the middle of the night startled by the sound of artillery shells falling close to our home. I will not forget the hours we spent with many other terrified neighbors crammed in a small room on the first floor of our apartment building, praying intently not just for our safety but also for the safety of family members and friends. In those years, cell phones had not yet been invented, the Internet did not exist, and phone landlines were very rare and very susceptible to destruction by war. Therefore, all we could do was pray and trust the Lord.

I thank the Lord that I did not have to witness the war of July 12 to August 14, 2006. However, I dreaded every moment of it, not only because of the memories it brought to my mind, but also because during the first two weeks of that war both my parents and numerous members of my extended family were in Lebanon. Praise the Lord that my father, his wife, and two children, who all have American citizenship, were able to leave Lebanon on the last ship that transferred Americans to Cyprus. From Cyprus, they were flown to Baltimore, where they secured flights to their home in California. On the other hand, my mother and her husband stayed in the Christian part of Beirut, which was not directly bombed. However, the bombing was so close to them that while talking to my mother on the phone one night, I could hear the chilling sound of bombs exploding.

Throughout the war this summer, I had to bring my worries and fears for the safety of my parents to the Lord over and over, committing them to His hands. The Lord in His grace kept all my immediate and extended family members safe. Another praise was that the phone lines were intact and therefore we were able to stay in close and regular contact with them.

So what do I think of the war in Lebanon? There is no war that is good. War always brings devastation, death, and sorrow. After Prime Minister Hariri rebuilt most of Beirut, the Lebanese were happy and hoped that the country would never see war again. However, the war of this past summer stole that blossoming sense of security from the Lebanese hearts. Currently, the people of Lebanon live with a continual fear that war can erupt again at any time. In the last few years, tourism started to rise in Beirut. However, after tourists were suddenly awakened to the sound of bombs on July 12, many of them left by way of sea because of the destruction of Lebanon’s one airport.

Tourists are currently very hesitant to go back to my country. I cannot blame them. My husband and I talked about visiting Lebanon, but after what happened this last summer, I do not foresee us going any time soon.

Due to the war-induced horrendous destruction and drop in tourism, the economy in Lebanon has been affected. However, all of that does not measure up to the biggest loss, the lives of innocent people. I can only imagine the sorrow that families are experiencing even today because of the loss of a loved one, child or adult.

Some Lebanese are claiming victory, but there is nothing to be victorious about concerning this war. The country is destroyed and the political tension between Lebanon and Israel has just intensified. The only positive outcome is that the war showed the Lebanese people that the world cares about them. The presence of international forces in Lebanon as well as the generous humanitarian aid that various countries have contributed is providing hope and comfort to the people of my country, and they are grateful.

Finally, the question that needs to be asked is not what do I think of the war in Lebanon but rather what does the Lord think of it? James 4 says that pride promotes strife and war. Ask any Lebanese and he or she would tell you that the causes behind all of the wars that this tiny country has gone through in the last 30 years are pride and selfishness. Fortunately, the new Lebanese generation is trying to transmit the message to the authorities that war is not the solution — communication and discussions are.

I pray that the war of summer 2006 would be the last war Lebanese would ever see. I also pray that the Christians in Lebanon would live out what their identity implies and that they would be salt and light in the darkness for Jesus Christ’s glory.

Dr. Cosette Fox serves as assistant professor of psychology, having joined the Cedarville University faculty in the fall of 2006. She earned her B.S. in biology, her B.A. in psychology, and her Ph.D. in experimental psychology.