July 28, 2006

More Opinions Than People

I once mentioned offhand in the comments section that Lebanon has more opinions than people. A Lebanese woman I had never met or encountered online before said she thought that remark was hilarious and gave me credit for “finally understanding Lebanon.”

At the time I didn't feel like explaining what I meant. It didn't seem important. But now would be a good time.

Lebanon's bizarre internal political structure creates mental categories in its citizens that do not and never will exist in the West. It's hard enough to understand how Lebanese think even after living there myself for a while, so I don't expect casual readers to “get” this. But there are Lebanese (I know several) who are secular and pro-American, who want peace with Israel, and who also suppport Hezbollah.

I've been thinking for a while now about writing an essay explaining how this is possible, but Lebanon.Profile over at the Lebanese Political Journal beat me to it. So go read. Only a small minority of Shia think this way, but you should know about them. It means they're mentally flexible and can be brought around, under the right conditions, to healthier ways of thinking. Things will not always be as they are.

Posted by Michael J. Totten at July 28, 2006 7:38 PM
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