Monday, May 9, 2011

An-Nahar Newspaper: Dear Lebanon

[Administrator's Note: Octavia is now writing articles for An-Nahar Newspaper each week and we will provide them here after they are printed.]

I'm finally back in Lebanon on a mission I have dreamed of for years. To play a role in redefining how news is done in the Middle East is both an honor and a passion. In 2009 I almost quit my job to pursue this dream but I changed my mind at the last minute mainly because I didn't want to break my contract with my employer and leave on a bad note. Today, I'm grateful for the Lebanese Broadcasting Corporation for affording me an even bigger opportunity to launch my new consulting business and take the first step into my dream of making a difference. I recently came across a letter I wrote to a friend on August 11, 2009 in response to his serious concern about me moving to Lebanon temporarily to take on a similar mission back then. I decided to share it with you as it’ll explain better than anything my state of mind. I'm changing my friend's name to ‘Lebanon’ and his daughter’s name to ‘Beirut’ to protect his identity and to highlight how much this tiny country means to both of us. Some parts were edited out for their personal or confidential nature.

Dear Lebanon,

You need to know that I've always wanted to make a difference in people's lives, in our world, in my profession.. If you think about the things I do for no particular reason but just because they make a difference for someone, empower a group, save a life or shed light on an important plight that not many people are interested in, you'll understand me better. I don't always do things because they make sense. Most of the time, things make sense to others after I focus on them or maybe because I focus on them.

I've been working very hard for the past 19 years and I'm very happy to have achieved what I have; but I'm not where I think I should be. I'm not satisfied and I'm not fulfilled, constantly feeling that something is missing.

Recently I started paying attention to the pleasure I derive from my interaction with people -- I miss being close to the audience and getting their immediate feedback. There is something within me that needs to be expressed.

I feel that there is an opportunity to do real journalism in a country and region that need it and are ready for it. It is a dream that might come true. To redefine how things are done and become a source of information instead of providing subject matter and serving only as consumers of western media. To lead instead of follow. I think of all the people whose lives I can touch by my work ethics, all the great minds who are waiting for one of their own to lead them into the 21st century of our profession. All the things that would never be unless I get involved. It’s hard to say "no" to all of this. Add to that, the legacy and lessons that the future generations will have as a result of my engagement. Do you want Beirut, Noor and Aya to grow up thinking nothing will ever change and we'd better accept things as they are and never stand up for what we believe in? Do you want our kids to always be scared of bullies and hide from them instead of face them and attempt to change their behavior to the point of respecting us and honoring what we believe in?

I know the dangers.. I know the country.. You're right in every word you ever said to me about this subject. I just want you to understand this fire that was awakened within me at this juncture in my life and what it means to me.

What sounds like the easiest answer at this point, might turn out to be the priciest and most damaging to my character in the long run!!

My sweet friend, I need you to be by my side to give me advice, support me and protect my back; but never forget my identity, my character and my burning desire to give back to our beloved country.
All of the above is even more relevant today than it was in 2009. It’s too bad that I lost the friend since but I’m hopeful that I gained an opportunity to participate in this historic change sweeping the Middle East.



Keep the conversation going...

Blogger Marina Mota said...

You Do make a difference in people´s lives and in the world. Love

May 9, 2011 at 8:42 AM  
Anonymous Bouffon said...

Best of Luck!

May 9, 2011 at 10:46 AM  
Blogger Mich said...

Good luck O! So glad you are back :-)

May 9, 2011 at 2:47 PM  
Blogger Oussama's Take said...

It is funny how life has its way of fulfilling our dreams and passions, all in good time I always say and your time has come. I am sure you would do a great job. You don't have to worry about the making the difference in people's life, you already do. So, good luck and thank you for letting us share in your journey.

May 9, 2011 at 2:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Octavia you have been such a inspiration for so many years. Thank you foryour reporting insights on the Muslim and Arab world. I was so happy to learn of your return after that other employer let a treasure like you go. That is past and this is a brighter future. I hope to learn more about your endeavors and keeping us informed as you have all these years.

May 9, 2011 at 6:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

From an old Class mate all the luck and the power needed to fulfill your dreams .You are a Hero in your hard work .
You might remember from the first magazine printed in a class room regards K.D.

May 20, 2011 at 9:37 AM  

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