The Libyan Guide To Staying Optimistic During Your Country’s Apocalypse

Is your electricity and water being cut off periodically? Are you sick of hearing constant explosions and gunfire? Worried that a military coup might overthrow your weak government? Well, look no further than this post!

Now, Libya’s situation doesn’t exactly leave room for hope. You only need to read through the social media feeds of the increasingly cynical and pessimistic nation to get the impression that the country has become part Somalia, part Afghanistan. A Frankenstein’s monster of failed states, if you will.

But while truth is stranger than fiction, social media is often stranger than truth. Don’t forget that it’s easier to attract clicks and page views with an apocalyptic headline (that’s why you clicked this link, isn’t it?) than with a more grounded, fact-based headline.

Since it is the fated month of February, there have been articles galore detailing just how and why Libya has become such a loser of a country, three years after the controversial revolution.

“Leave the country! Get away before it’s too late!” they cry (errr, type). The current running joke is that the best part of Libya is the airport. (Captain Obvious says: so they can leave the country, duh).

But the question is: too late for what? And just how bad is it living in Libya?

In a caffeine-induced frenzy, I’ve decided to write down all the reasons that, despite the odds, I still have hope in this country. Without further ado:

1. “If there is hope, it lies with the youth”: Youth in general are an unpredictable lot, and when you add to that disillusionment with the country and marginalization from the government, you wind up with Libya’s main demographic.

This is the same group that worked tirelessly during the revolution and displayed an unpredictable set of talents. The same group that have unprecedented access to technology and telecommunications. With the right amount of inspiration and inclusion, there is more potential and possibility with Libya’s youth than there are with the zombies currently occupying the political scene.

And if they’re not given the opportunity? Sooner or later they will step up and take it themselves, it’s only a question of when.

2. The Apocalypse Is Not Really Happening: “How can you live in Benghazi?” I’ve been asked this quite a lot. What with the bombs and assassinations and general dread, living here must be mortifying, right?

I’m not saying the bad stuff is tolerable. It absolutely enrages me to hear of the poor security situation, and the deaths of fellow citizens. But my life is not fixated on news channels. I have school, work, friends, family and other activities in my life. There’s a popular saying in Benghazi, “you fight us with death, we fight you with life.” And life goes on in Benghazi. This has always been a historically unconquerable city. If we have to be the stage where the revolution and its repercussions play out, we will bear that burden.

3. National Unity: Like any large, dysfunctional family, Libyans are prone to argue with each other over trivial differences. Regional hostility, tribal disputes and random bickering is not new to us. But while we fight like children, you’d be hard pressed to find a more tight-knit community of people.

Recently Libya won the African Cup of Nations tournament, and it was in the wake of this victory that Libyans were completely united, celebrating together in complete harmony. This proves that, despite our little differences, we can stick together when we need to.

4. Increased Consciousness: What do we have now that we didn’t have three years ago? Well, three years of experience. If you compare the protests now, peaceful and organized, to the protests a year ago that ended in violence, you’ll notice a difference.

Libyans are more aware of what it means to be a developing democracy. It’s a continuous process that doesn’t end when the dictator is killed. We have to keep working at it, and improving ourselves, if we want to see change. Sure, it’s a sobering reality, but hard truths are tough to swallow.

There’s a diagram a teacher of mine once drew, showing the difference between what we think progress looks like and what it really looks like. “Actual achievement of goals is less like climbing stairs and more like climbing a mountain”

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I’ll keep updating this list with more points, but I think my caffeine buzz is fading. Can you add anything to this list??

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