Dima El Hassan
At the end of each year, Google, the “king of search engines,” announces the most popular searches during the whole year to see what significantly influences our life in this world.
For the year 2017, Google states that the most common word is “HOW,” meaning that this year more than ever we ask “how.” How many refugees in the world? How do hurricanes form? How to help refugees? How to make a protest sign? How to be a good parent? How to be fearless? How to make a difference? How to use iphone? etc.
It reminds me of someone who’s to me like a mentor and who believes that asking the right question is a key to the ultimate answer and that the “how” is everything. He always talks about the importance of “how” and that “the importance of you lies not in what you do but rather on how you do it.”
The question is the basis for all knowledge. According to the German philosopher, Martin Heidegger the history of the philosophical thinking is the history of questions, meaning that thinking is based on questioning. All inventions in all fields across history were initiated out of the ability to produce the right question and trying its assumptions.
Now comes the “How to” that makes asking the question a science more than an art. The “how to” question is about the mechanism that will lead to accomplishment. You don’t have an anticipated quick answer. To be able to answer it we rather need to search and/or research, that is to move from theory to practice through a certain mechanism.
Google put us in query: Why are people now more than ever asking how? Why are they looking in search engines for “how to?”
I think the main reason is uncertainty. The year 2017 contained a lot of uncertainties on many levels, to the extent that sometimes goes beyond the logic of things. Examples include Donald Trump winning the U.S. elections and the formation of his administration, the women’s march against him, Trump’s travel ban for six Muslim countries, Brexit, the referendum NO vote that ended the presidency of Matteo Renzi as the Italian prime minister, the French presidential elections, the escalation on the war in Syria, Yemen and Iraq and the exponential increase of refugees around the world, the increase in natural disasters from floods to tornados and earthquakes, terrorist acts all over the globe, the fluctuations of ties and frictions in countries’ relationships regarding the Middle East and Trump’s announcement that the U.S. recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
As for Lebanon, the country has been shaped by uncertainties for almost a decade now. The political, economic and social situations are destroying the element of stability for people to live, work and produce healthily and effectively. Lebanon, known preciously as a state of knowledge, has increasingly taken the bottom positions on the world map on many socio-economic, education, culture and human rights fields.
In 2017, a lot of Lebanese talents and innovators emerged, but so did social crises and tensions to the level that immigration is now a defecto option for many, despite how much they love their country and are willing to contribute to it and however is the fact that almost no country in the world is safe anymore.
Dear readers, at the end of the year 2017, the year of uncertainties, the question I leave you with is: “How can we make Lebanon certain again?” Until we meet again, Happy New Year to you and to my dear Lebanon!
Dima El Hassan is director of programs at the Hariri Foundation for Sustainable Human Development. Email: [email protected]
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on December 20, 2017, on page 3.