By Kees van der Knijff

If you move to a different country, like I did a little over a year ago, you may start to see many things in a different light. Things you thought were self-evident appear not to be so. Things you consider rare can appear to be standard. Words get new or deeper meanings. One of the recurring themes for me over the past year, amid all that has been going on in Lebanon, has been the theme of hope. Living in Lebanon has made me more aware of the superficial kinds of hope we are prone to revert to. I am convinced we need a deeper hope, a hope that does not look away from pain and evil but gives strength to live through pain and to expose evil.

At times, for example this spring when parliamentary elections were nearing, a small wave of hope seemed to roll through the country. People desperately clung to the idea that things might change for the better.

If you look carefully around you, you cannot miss the despair in Lebanon. You might have to look beyond the shiny cars that still drive around and see past the smiles that greet you everywhere. You might have to listen to what is being said between the lines. In most cases simply looking at people’s eyes is enough. Despair is everywhere. I guess the same applies to many places around the world, even to places that to outsiders look stable and prosperous.