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Please excuse the length of my letter – but know that every word comes from the heart – a broken one, alas

Friends and neighbors wait with sweets, flower petals, and a musical troupe for firefighter Ralph Mellehe’s body to return to his Beirut neighborhood of Ain al-Remmane.
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Dear Time Magazine,

This year’s “Person of the Year” cover should be “People of the Year”. And it should be dedicated to “The Lebanese”.  

You may have seen the images of the gigantic explosion. The images of destruction and despair. The faces and bodies covered in blood and shredded glass. 

You may have even written and read these stories. 

But did you hear their screams? 

Did you ‘feel’ the fear in their eyes? 

Did your heart skip a few hundred beats? 

Did you watch your world collapse in the blink of an eye?

I guarantee that you could not even begin to fathom living through the apocalypse of August 4th, 2020 in Beirut. And everyday since…

The world, including Lebanon, is fighting COVID-19. But our list of battles is much longer.

You see, our government is our ‘other’ virus. But our good people, if given the chance, can be the cure!

What our country and citizens have gone through in the past year, decade and half century – is nothing short of surreal. 

I had planned on pleading our case to try and convince you why “The Lebanese People” should be on your cover this year – but do I really need to? 

We deserve to be heard and seen. We deserve to not have our hard earned money and savings stolen from us. We deserve to have electricity 24 hours a day. We deserve to have running water – hot and cold. We deserve to see our ruthless politicians, leaders and warlords hang for their decades of inhumane crimes and corruption. We deserve a government that will finally put its people before its personal pockets. We deserve to not have our city blown up and annihilated by one of the biggest explosions in history. We deserve an army that protects its people, and not its rulers. We deserve an international investigation.

We deserve the truth and accountability. 

We deserve human rights. We deserve to have hopes and dreams. We deserve to sleep soundly at night. We deserve to have sanctions placed on the corrupt politicians along with their families. We deserve justice. We deserve liberty. We deserve not to be held hostages by an Iranian-backed militia and extremist regime. We deserve help. We deserve to breathe. We deserve life!

We built our city and they destroyed it. We built it again, and they destroyed it again, and again, and again! 

How much longer do we need to keep resilient for?! 

If you prick us, do we not Also bleed?

How many more times is Lebanon expected to rise from the rubbles and ashes like that fucking Phoenix?! 

At what point are we allowed to be exhausted? 

When do we get to grieve? While cleaning our own streets?

When do we stop worrying about our government or our neighbors?

When do we get to live in peace and not be broken into pieces?

When do we stop being pawns for everyone else to play with?

When is it Ok for us to not be Ok?!

We are Heartbroken, Shocked, Hurt, Enraged, Devastated, Hopeful, Hopeless, Helpless, Strong, Sad, Tired, Anxious, Fearful, Fearless…

Can you imagine juggling this roller coaster of emotions hour after hour? Day after day? Month after month? Year after year?!  

How about dealing with all these feelings while you are hungry, bankrupt, and now for many, homeless?

We will never forget. And We will never forgive. 

Please…for the love of my country, for the love of my people, for the love of life and humanity –  help us tell the world not to either. 

Put the Lebanese as “People of the Year” on this year’s edition. 

Because today, in our eyes, we are the “People of the Century” for we have survived (barely) one of the biggest “Crimes of the Century”. 

We have redefined strength and solidarity. But we still need our voices heard. 

We deserve it. For we have unfortunately and sadly earned it. 2,750 times over! 

Don’t you think?

#WeAreLebanon #WeAreLebanese 

Sincerely,
Ingrid Abboud 

Thank you for your consideration

🙏

.

PS – As for the cover photo – may I suggest one of the Lebanese people together holding their brooms, with their masks and gloves on, cleaning the rubbles – with the destruction and port around/behind them. Our army and government sat back and watched while We the People did their job and still are.

Time’s Person of the Year  is an annual issue of the United States news magazine Time  that features and profiles a person, a group, an idea, or an object that “for better or for worse… has done the most to influence the events of the year”.

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