Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Change they can believe in?

The locale had all the feeling of a youth hostel or a Bohemian coffee shop - yellow walls, pastels, a Buddha mask on the wall, red couches, mismatched chairs, low lighting to give the imperfections perfect character. And youth, the buzz, the desperate energy of a generation longing for change.

I can't say the gathering was unlike those during the Obama campaign, with a tenacious grip on Hope and an insatiable thirst for the rebirth of a damaged country. Or perhaps it was more like the Dean campaign, when young Americans gathered in places not unlike Club 43 in Gemeyzeh after four years of the atrocities of the Bush administration, clinging to nothing but this thing called Hope.

Skin was shiny, the point just before sweat, the sticky air of Beirut invading the crowded room, and impromptu fans of paper pushed the only air around. Nobody minded the heat, for this was a moment. This was freedom. This was an opportunity for voices to ring out, a whimper to the outside world, but screams inside this cracked house of justice. A question answered, a dozen more hands, an endless supply of questions asked not for answers, but just to be heard, hands reaching to the fruits of humanity, a hunger for a real country, a real democracy, a real freedom.

Ziad Baroud is not Howard Dean. Ziad Baroud is not Barack Obama. But what he brings to the youth of this country is the same.

As Minister of Interior in charge of elections and security, he has already brought about real reform, reform to electoral laws, reform to the way the security forces function, and reform to the attitudes of a new generation. Perhaps the last is the most important. Here is a leader to follow, a man who holds the promise of the future. This was a town hall meeting about electoral reform, but those in the room asked him about everything. There were questions about environmental issues, questions about so many things outside the realm of the Ministry's functions, and this was telling. They need him. They need someone to discard the bullshit, the patronage, the kleptocracy. They need someone to lead them into a new era, when the dinosaurs of destruction die out and a new and evolved country emerges. They need someone to keep the promise of the future.

Will he keep the promise, or will he succumb to the disease of the ego because he wields so much power? It is a question we must ask of all politicians and people of high standing. Power corrupts. This is a fundamental truth in political science. Human behavior is, well, you know, we have wars and greed and all that jazz, so we just have to wait and see. Until then, the hope, the promise, it is a driving force for the youth of this country, for the youth of the world, and we all know life is nothing without hope.

This kind of thing makes you feel change can really happen.

This was one of the best travel experiences I've ever had. It's just too bad I couldn't understand more than 25% or so of what they were saying. The language barrier didn't matter so much, though, because it was the energy in the room that was the real language. And besides, I get to meet him in person today (!) when we can speak in English and I can ask him all of the things I wanted to ask. (Funny how I feel nervous.)

No comments:

Post a Comment