January 20, 2015

Skiing with a Troubled Conscience


I could tell you that skiing in Lebanon is absolutely fantastic. That you can ski in the morning and swim in the afternoon (although with the current traffic that is very unlikely, and besides, why the rush?). That the ski slopes are just 55 kilometers away from Beirut, and that Feraya has 42 slopes (I got this from the web site, but I think you need a lot of imagination to come up with 42 slopes), and lots of other positive things, but the truth  is that I ski with a troubled conscience.
It’s a f***ed up world; while on one side of the country people are stuck (from the perspective of a Dutch outsider, so if you do not read Dutch, it won’t help you much) in unheated tents without proper clothing, running water, or fuel for the heaters, on the other side they pay $66 to spend a day up on the slopes of Faraya. And that’s only your lift ticket.
It isn’t fair and it isn’t correct, and I try and reason my way out of by saying that I donate money and clothes to refugees, but somehow it doesn’t sit well, since there’s the realization that if I were willing to forego many of my luxuries (my skiing, my gas guzzling-SUV, my 3G, my imported coffee, the dog food for 3 dogs, the 3 TV’s, to name just a few), and everybody else here would be doing the same, these refugees would be a whole lot better off. 


On the other hand, there’s also the realization that the Dutch community has increased quite a bit this past year; most of them aid workers, many of whom make more money than I do. And then if you know that some of them do not reside in cheap apartments in the suburbs, and come with kids, who all need to be schooled, and I can tell you that public schools are not an option here, than you wonder if all that money given by people in Holland could maybe be spent a little more efficiently.
 However, you cannot hire aid workers on the conditions that they’d be single, without kids, and willing to live like many Lebanese do, without 24-hour electricity. I mean, they could hire them on those conditions, but I doubt you get many takers for the job.
There’s two sides to everything. If you are lucky. Probably more. Besides, the infra-structure that they are building up, and the aid they are providing is better than nothing. It’s just that there’s so much to be done, there’s not enough of anything, you don’t know where to start and the end is not in sight. Not by a long shot. It seems Lebanon is the country with the highest density of refugees. We’ve got over a million refugees on a population of four million. That doesn’t bode well for our future. We can’t handle our own problems, and the last time we had a serious influx of refugees (the Palestinians); the power balance shifted so significantly that it ended up being a reason (one of many, I might ass) to fight over.
Come to think of it, only the Armenian refugees fared reasonably well, but they got passports, and they’ve been here since 1915, so we’ve forgotten about the hardships they went through.
And so we ski, but with troubled conscience. Not that my troubled conscience is of any help to the Syrian refugees.


Elie Touma said...

Excellent photos and article as usual. Fantastic views of Faraya and the snow. Thanks.

Sietske said...

Elie Touma!! Love your comments! :)

visnja said...

Great panoramic photos and as always great read! Thank you! Love & Peace

Sietske said...

Visjna! Another very loyal reader. Again, I do not say it often, but your support is much appreciated :)

Unknown said...

A good piece away from the prevailing phobias and racist trends... keep up the good work!