This article appeared in the August 11, 2020 edition of the Monitor Daily.

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An ‘indispensable glow’ in the Beirut night

Aziz Taher/Reuters
A volunteer rests inside a damaged house in the aftermath of a massive explosion in Beirut on Aug. 11, 2020.

What is a city to do when 300,000 people become homeless in an instant? Last week, half of Beirut was damaged by one of the largest non-nuclear explosions in history. Thousands of homes have become unlivable.

One answer is to stay with family. Another is to expand your sense of family, and many Beirutis are welcoming neighbors into their homes. Thawramap, an online map that tracks protests, is now showing private homes, hotels, and schools where people can go, reports The National, a regional newspaper. The hashtag #ourhomesareopen has cropped up.

Amid hardship, the Lebanese newspaper L’Orient-Le Jour notes, “we are witnessing tremendous expressions of solidarity from across the country and from beyond its borders. These expressions ... bring an indispensable glow into our night.” The outpouring of love has fueled a funding campaign called Together, Let’s Rebuild Beirut.

Social critic Rebecca Solnit has written that tragedies like 9/11 can instill “an emotion graver than happiness but deeply positive.” In this is “a glimpse of who else we ourselves may be and what else our society could become.” As Lebanon struggles with political strife and economic near-collapse, that glimpse is sorely needed.

One Beiruti opening his home tells The National: “Lebanese people may be severely politically polarized but luckily, when it comes down to supporting other people in need, they are unique in their motivation to help.”

This article appeared in the August 11, 2020 edition of the Monitor Daily.

Read 08/11 edition
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