By Loulwa El Maalouf

Sometimes we hope that change will come quickly and drastically, but most times, change comes slowly and in small increments.

Many people wonder what it looks like to be living in Lebanon these days. Before we compare Lebanon now to Lebanon pre-2019, let’s keep in mind that since the Lebanese Civil War, Lebanon has been a country severely plagued by corruption. Results of this can be seen in examples like never having 24 hours of electricity, political leaders’ family members being involved in many shady businesses, and a garbage crisis that led to rivers of smelly garbage on the streets of the country in 2015. These are just some examples. So, how are things worse now?

Let me start by sharing how things look where I live. I remember that when I was in primary school, my class studied about traffic lights, but it was years before we actually saw them on the streets of Beirut and then around the country. It also took a couple of years for Lebanese to get used to them and start obeying them (as much as is humanly possible for Lebanese). It was a milestone for Lebanon to have them back on the streets after years of civil war. They are beautiful. They represent organization, civilization, and equality under the law. However, today in Lebanon, we are losing the traffic lights once again. Ones that are damaged are not repaired, and oftentimes they are off due to power cuts. At a very busy crossroad near my home, several light bulbs of the traffic lights are burnt out, so imagine the crazy sorts of misunderstandings and danger that this creates! At another one, a truck had crashed in one and brought it down several weeks ago. It is still down. We are losing our traffic lights. It is heartbreaking.

To understand the impact of the change in Lebanon, we can also look at consumer prices. Bread now costs seven times more than it did back in 2019. A gallon of gas costs more than 11 times as much. Medicine prices continue to skyrocket too, but the problem with medicine is that many types can’t be found. Even if you have cash dollars – which usually makes life easier – you still cannot find what you need.