Beirut, The Destruction of a Pearl

Beirut, The Destruction of a Pearl

During my seven years of hell in Beirut in the 1980s during the height of the civil war in Lebanon, I witnessed a lot of shelling, shooting and many explosions which destroyed the lives of so many people. What happened in Beirut on the evening of Tuesday 4 August 2020 was completely different from anything the whole of the Near East has seen in its modern history. The explosion was the result of fire started after an explosion happened in a store of weapon then reached another store of many tons of ammonium nitrate in the port of Beirut.

The explosion that destroyed the port of Beirut and swept a huge part of the Lebanese capital was categorised as the third largest explosion in human history after Hiroshima and Nagasaki during the Second World War. The impact of the explosion was felt in Cyprus, a Mediterranean island 234 km (146 miles) from the shores of Beirut. The explosion killed almost 200 people and injured more than 5,000.

This devastating incident raised many critical questions about the corruption of the political system in Lebanon and the huge inefficiency that is ruling the political and institutional life of the whole country. As a result of this deadly and deeply disturbing tragedy, thousands of people went to the streets of Beirut asking the top political leaders to resign and leave. It is important to mention that many of those leaders were part of leadership during the destructive civil war which lasted more than 18 years between 1974 and 1992.

The Awareness Foundation has many friends and Middle Eastern consultants in Beirut, and we thank the Lord that all of them are well and safe, but some were slightly injured, and their homes and churches were ripped apart by the force of the explosion. They assured us that the Christians in Lebanon as an important and essential part of the Christian presence in the Near East will remain a sign of hope and witnesses to the resurrection of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ in that suffering part of Near East.

We hope that this tragedy will be a turning point in the history of Lebanon and become an opportunity for the revolution which started 14 October 2019 to bear fruits and bring needed and necessary changes to the country. The Lebanese people, as well as the peoples of the region, deserve to live in peace and take their chance to prosper away from bloodshed and wars.

Words cannot express our sorrow and deep pain for what happened in Beirut, the Pearl of the Mediterranean and the capital of freedom and life. Our thoughts and prayers are with all the people of Lebanon in their difficult time. We pray to our risen and gracious Lord that he might overshadow Beirut and its people with his love and mercy.

A Letter to Lebanon

When will you stop gnawing at my flesh

Breaking my bones

Stomping my heart

Crushing my soul

I fly away

Free from your claws

But like a bird used to its cage

Life keeps bringing me back to you

I think about my youth

The years you’ve devoured

Chewed, spat, swallowed

Thirsty for my blood

Hungry for my pain

Life keeps bringing me back to you

Memories of years past

Fear, destruction, blasts

Screams of children and widows

Deserted streets and blazing sorrows

Like a moth drawn to the flame

Dancing to its grave

Life keeps bringing me back to you

Work hard, my father said

Don’t be foolish, think ahead

Grow your savings, keep them near

For your dignified golden years

Sacrifice after sacrifice

I followed my father’s advice

Delighted in my feat

Oh my wounded country

Filled with greed and sins

Your belly swollen with forbidden fruits

The labor of your people

Tainted with sweat and tears

Like an invisible magnet

Life keeps bringing me back to you

Is it over between us?

Is this our last dance?

Are you still lusting

For my flesh and tears?

I dream of the day

When I break free

When life takes pity on me

And stops bringing me back to you

Prof. Ketty Sarouphim

Awareness Foundation Consultant, Beirut, Lebanon