Beirut is a city of paradoxes. If you stop watching the news, ignore the tense political conversations, and focus on fun, life can be extremely pleasant. The city's nightlife and culture are booming.
Despite the tension, the fiery statements, and violent rhetoric, we seem to be blessed with the ability to live our lives one day at a time. Then again, it would be absurd to plan for the future, because nobody knows if another war will break out tomorrow.
Civil strife is likely, because if Prime Minister Hariri refuses to resign or to reject the U.N. tribunal's findings, there will be demonstrations. Our collective memories of the events of May 2008 are still fresh, and the urge to avenge the deaths of almost 100 citizens has not been extinguished. On the contrary, the inflamed rhetoric and mobilization of crowds has reached dangerous levels.
On the other hand, Israeli warplanes still fly over Lebanese territory, mainly the Shiite south, to remind people that another war is always possible. The "divine victory" that Hezbollah achieved in 2006 does not seem to have wiped fear from people's hearts. Shiite and non-Shiites, Hezbollah supporters and critics, everyone is scared.
The Shiites who support Hezbollah, the people who gathered in the streets this week to welcome the "godfather of resistance," know that eventually they, more than anyone else, will have to pay the price. It is their blood that will be spilled if Israel strikes again, and they will be Hezbollah's instruments if it decides to use violence to topple the government.
The Lebanese state is fragile. The streets are boiling, and the future looks bleak. Meanwhile, life goes on. And we try to laugh despite the tears in our eyes.