I’ve been getting a lot of questions lately about Lebanon. Of course, that’s probably because I just told people that I took a week’s vacation there. There’s something about an exotic locale that piques people’s curiosity.

The conversation often goes something like this:

How was the trip?  Did you have a great time?

Kadisha Valley, Lebanon

Kadisha Valley at Sunset, Bcharre, Lebanon

Yes!  It was fabulous!  We were visiting our daughter, and she took us to some of the most beautiful sites we’ve ever been. Did you know that Lebanon has the world’s largest and best preserved Roman temples ? And the city of Byblos is the oldest continuously inhabited city in the world? At sunset, the mist seems to pour into the Kadisha Valley, making it appear like Brigadoon.

Really? I didn’t know!

And of course, how could they know? The news from Lebanon is all about how the wars in the neighboring countries are affecting this land the size of Connecticut on the edge of the Mediterranean.  Our newspapers are filled with stories about Syria and Israel.  Many stories of Syrian unrest are given a Beirut byline because reporters are filing from the safety of Lebanon.

Then I tell them that Lebanon is a country of beautiful, gracious people, living in a lovely land, and struggling under the burden of being on the edge of war-torn countries that use Lebanon as a proxy battleground. Their population of 4 million citizens now carry the weight of an additional 1 million refugees.

Students dancing in Byblos, Lebanon

Students Dancing, Byblos, Lebanon

The government and humanitarian organizations are working hard; the refugees are evident on the streets and in camps. The ordinary citizens go to work, come home, live their lives; young people attend school, go to clubs, dance and party.  They fight incredible traffic and pollution, and stay out of unsafe areas. Life goes on, but progress is not made.

As someone who makes a living helping nonprofit agencies as they develop a vision, craft a path to achieving that vision, and execute that path toward the vision, I am at a loss at how to process the burden this country is under.

I had hoped to find some lesson from the trip to bring back, that would be an appropriate topic for a blog post about governance, nonprofits, strategic planning, leadership.

Instead, I think the lesson is that sometimes, you just have to keep on thinking.

Have some thoughts to share on this subject?  Get in touch with me at sdetwiler@detwiler.com.