A Reflection on Love & Marriage

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I often receive comic posts, Whatsapp messages and jokes about marriage, married couples, wife or husband related topics. It surprises me to see so much ridicule, making-fun of the other and rather un-inviting messages being perpetuated to non-married individuals and among married individuals. Yet at the same time, I don’t think any of those messages really deter anyone from getting married when they meet the right person, but they sure do give marriage a rather negative reputation.

Personally, I find it rather weird for why those messages exist in the first place. When two individuals who fall in love deeply, get married, and commit to live a life together as one family, raise children, go through life with the other, and yet they somehow end up ridiculing one another or sharing negative jokes about marriage?

I’ll take this opportunity on the night of my marriage anniversary to reach out to all those falling in love, to those planning to get married, or those recently married, to tell you that life only gets better together. Having the one you love and loves you back in your life, having your second half, having that unimaginable bond gives you a sense of serenity, peace of mind and deep joy that cannot really be compared.

For those who know me, know that I’ve been through a lot, had a busy life, met a lot of people, traveled, changed careers, volunteered in every way possible, had a truly fulfilling life. Yet non of that matches the joy of the day I got married, the joy of knowing that I’ll wake up every morning with the one person I love the most, knowing that I’ll be taken care off, pampered and loved back.

Marriage, for me at least, is like moving in with your best friend, who you feel really attracted to, enjoy spending time with, can to talk about anything and everything, can share dreams and aspirations, as well as fears and worries, can laugh, eat, drink, be foolish and be serious with. It’s that comfort zone where you know there is someone who depends on you and you can depend on, at all times and for all matters.

To those who are falling in love with someone, or contemplating whether you should marry the one you love, I’d say go for it! Treat them right, love them with all your heart, do anything and everything you can to make them happy…and just watch it multiply and come back to you in folds.

To those who are already married, share the good stories, share the good memories, share the beautiful side of a married life and let it perpetuate.

To my beautiful wife Joana, I’m blessed to have you in my life. Happy Anniversary! 🙂

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Interview with Dr. Youssef Tabsh – Lebanese Parliamentary Candidate 2018

29136052_174482046507007_1178572907012517487_nDear Reader,

As a start, I have a disclaimer to make: Dr. Youssef Tabsh is my father and is currently running for parliamentary elections in Beirut II district. The aim of this post is to objectively reflect my father’s responses to questions and concerns which matter to the Lebanese citizens in general, and more specifically, Beirut community.

The questions mentioned below have been curated through my personal network, then merged, edited and phrased in such a way as to reduce any redundancies and overlaps while ensuring that all key inquiries are addressed.

In addition to the Q&A below, I’m adding a link to the Electoral Program of “Sawt El Nas” the coalition which Dr. Youssef Tabsh is part of.

You can also follow his Facebook Page on: Dr. Youssef Tabsh Friends (Elections Campaign Page)

About Dr. Youssef Tabsh

Dr. Tabsh is a medical doctor; a uro-surgeon to be exact. He is the youngest of his 5 siblings descending from a typical Sunni family residing in Tareeq El Jdide in Beirut. He has been very proactive in civic welfare matters since he was 14. Dr. Tabsh pursued his studies at Makassed and Al Bir Wal Ihsan schools respectively. Later, he obtained a scholarship to pursue his medical education at the First Institute of Medicine in Saint Petersburg (previously Leningrad), Russia  where he also headed the Arab Students Association.

Upon his return, he registered at the Lebanese Order of Physicians as well as the Lebanese Urology Society. He then opened his clinic, started his medical practice in several local hospitals, joined the Soviet Union Alumni Association in Lebanon which he was then elected as its President. Dr. Tabsh served as a founding member of the Mourabitoun (المُرابِطون) political party, and Vice President at the medical foundation called “Najda Sha’bia” (النجدَة الشعبية). Additionally, he was a founding member and then elected President of the Lebanese National Crescent(الهلال الوطني اللبناني). He is also a founding member and Vice President of an NGO which civilizations studies organization called “Tayyar El Hadarat Abhath wa Dirasat” (تيّار الحضارات-أبحاث ودراسات)

In the aftermath of the civil war, Dr. Tabsh put his political engagement on hold and focused solely on humanitarian work and medical practice. In the 90s, he ran for Presidency of the Order of Physicians.  From a broad geo-political perspective, Dr. Youssef Tabsh strongly believes in Arab nationalism, the Palestinian cause, a fan of Jamal Abdul-Nasser’s socialist views and approaches, and a vigorous advocate of freedom of expression and humanitarian work.

Over the past 37 years, Dr. Tabsh had helped and supported thousands of people in need across all spectra of the country; whether sick, impoverished, or in trouble. His medical and humanitarian services ranged from Beirut, to Saida, Palestinian camps and other various areas in Lebanon where there were people in need.

Currently, Dr. Youssef Tabsh is a retired medical doctor, a loving husband, a father of 4 and a grandfather of 3. He speaks 4 languages, is an avid reader and a strong believer in lifelong learning. He still has that flame in him; that passion and vision to serve his community, his country, and the Arab nation at large by any means and by all means within his capacity. His activism since childhood stands proof to it.

Q&A

After that many years of not being in the political scene, why did you decide to run for elections?

As a matter of fact, my lifelong friends Brigadier General Moustafa Hamdan from the Mourabitoun movement (حركة المرابطون) and ex-MP Najah Wakim from Haraket El Sha’b (حركة الشعب) both asked me to run for elections as they strongly believed in my vision and political agenda while feeling that there is a real chance to succeed with the new electoral law. Based on multiple discussions and meetings, I felt it would be worth to give this step a shot, and I definitely look forward to further serving my country.

When people hear “Mourabitoun” they recall the armed group that was based in Beirut defending against the Israeli invasion. To what extent does the current Mourabitoun movement still resemble its history, and what has changed since then?

The days of armed groups have long been gone; I’ve never been a fan of arms, never used one and not planning to ever own one. Eventually, I’m a medical doctor; I have solemnly sworn to save people’s lives not end it. The Mourabitoun today has kept its core values of Arab nationalism, believing in the Palestinian cause and their right to return to their homeland, and in the socialist agenda of having fair and just policies applied to all citizens within the country regardless of their sects and affiliations. This is the core belief of the Mourabitoun movement. This is what it has been reestablished to do, and this mission will survive despite any challenges.

You are part of a coalition called “Sawt El Nas” or the “Voice of the People”, why this coalition?

As a coalition, there are a lot of common ground among us. It is true that we come from diverse backgrounds and political parties/civic groups, but there is synergy among the members on many core issues, all of which are reflected in our common “Political Program for Parliamentary Elections”.

Can you summarize your political agenda in few bullet points/key words?

The agenda, or political program in general, is quite detailed. However, if I were to highlight the key issues/topics which constitute top priorities for me, they’d be as follows:

  • Secularism: Pushing to end sectarianism in any and all means possible; hence, ensuring citizens are treated equally and fairly, irrespective of their religious affiliation.
  • Rule of Law: Developing necessary policies, and spreading awareness about the importance of institutionalization, good governance and proper functioning of public entities to serve citizens properly, consistently and fairly.
  • Transparency: Activating and empowering the proper institutional bodies to monitor, audit and hold accountable all public servants (from President to Ministers to MPS to all those who work in the public domain) as a means to combating corruption in a structured, consistent and sustainable manner.
  • Knowledge Economy & Employment: Initiate new government projects, open new positions, reverse the brain drain and enforce policies which encourage recruiting fresh graduate Lebanese, people with disabilities, and enforce certain female quotas.
  • Health Care: Ensuring healthcare services are accessible, affordable, of high quality and treat all Lebanese people with courtesy, irrespective of whether or not they have money.

What is your stance of the current political parties who are in power?

They are a disgrace to the country. They have been in control of this country since the civil war; many just changed hats from war-lords to governmental figures. It is a shame that Lebanese citizens have consistently voted them back into office time and time again. There is a saying in Arabic that somewhat means “Your leaders are a reflection of who you truly are” and that shows that some Lebanese people still believe in those “leaders” and they represent them, or else why would they vote for them? That shows that a non-representative percentage of the Lebanese population are sectarian, corrupt, short-sighted, promote their own personal benefit over that of the country’s. Yet, and thankfully, not all Lebanese are like that, and with this new electoral law, we all have a chance to make a difference, of putting people in office to voice out our concerns, and represent us as we deserve to be represented.

Can you walk us through your political program and plans if you become an MP?

Well there are many points to talk about here, so I prefer if you read the program in detail (link) as it covers topics including but not limited to: Foreign policy, Empowerment of the Army, Jails & Justice Department, Sectarianism, Right to Give Nationality to Children by Males and Females, Female Quota, Rights of the Disabled, Brain Drain & Economic Recovery, Knowledge Economy, Healthcare, Education, Unemployment, National Debt, Economic Policy, Fighting Corruption, Garbage & Other Environmental Issues, Electricity, Internet, Telephone & Other Services, and Transportation among other topics.

Anything else you’d like to tell the readers?

Well I want to tell your readers, especially those in Beirut, that their vote won’t go in vain. Each vote counts, every person who steps forward and practices their civic duty is helping shape the future of the country in a way they find fit. I hope that through my bio, my replies, and the program I shared with you above, I will have managed to convince your readers to vote for me. All those who know you, my son, whether personally or through your work, I believe they know what kind of person you are and what kind of upbringing you had. It is the same vision, support and encouragement which I had provided for you that I would like to offer to the youth of this country; give them hope, provide them with decent careers, bring them their country back from the bunch of people who have been taking us hostage for over 30 years now!

A Key to Happiness: Love Thy Self!

ImageMy dear reader,

Today, I’m going to share with you a secret of mine that made me find one of the ways to happiness. It’s more intuitive than you might think and I hope it works for you as well 🙂

I’ve went through several transformations in my life and by far the most critical of them was learning to love myself. I’m not talking about being conceited and self centered, that is way too far from what I mean; it’s actually about learning to look in the mirror and really appreciating and loving the person you see.

So what I want you to do after reading this article is to go to the nearest mirror and ask yourself if you love the person you are seeing. Do you appreciate all what this person has been through and what this person became as a result of those experiences? But always remember to be extremely honest to yourself while answering all those questions to be able to identify the way you see yourself.

If your answer is yes, then learn to appreciate yourself more by recognizing and loving that person. This is crucial, simply because the more you love yourself, the easier it would be to really love others and hence open the door for others to love you back.

In my childhood, when I used to look in that mirror, I didn’t really love the person I used to see. I wanted to be different and even completely someone else. I felt like things were missing in me, but as I matured and as things changed in my life, that perception for the person in the mirror changed. All the changes that happened taught me to love myself and love my life.

It’s that moment, that point in time where you start your journey of happiness because happiness is not a destination but rather the journey itself.

You’ll be surprised how your self-perception projects itself on your feelings, actions, attitude and hence your life as a whole. In return, this will influence the way people see you. So, take my brotherly advice and figure out what it takes you to start loving yourself. Only then, life will love you back and you will enjoy your journey full of happiness 🙂

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An Added Value of Being Lebanese

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The more I interact with people from around the world, the more I travel, the more I work with different cultures, nationalities and what not I become prouder and prouder of being Lebanese.

I’ve realized that as Lebanese, we become hard wired to be resilient, adaptable, expansive and global.

I’m yet to see a country where you don’t find a Lebanese community in it, and you somehow always find them adapting to that community, learning its ways, spreading their wings and flying high among the community members.

If you were born to a Lebanese origin, you automatically entered a network of individuals spread all around the globe. You automatically grow to understand your role in this ever changing world, you get to consider wider perspectives and ambitions than many other nationalities I’ve seen…you get the mindset that the world is just a small village, and no matter where you go…you’ll manage, not because you got some super powers, but rather because we grow up engaged with the globe…studying in one country, working in another, having relatives and friends around the globe…and that’s not only because of the political or economic situation in Lebanon, even ages ago when things were all better in Lebanon…Lebanese still were wide spread.

So in a nutshell, being Lebanese, you got that added value of being, by default, a global citizen!

To all my fellow Lebanese around the globe, I’m proud of you…shine on!

Khartoum & My Cigarillo Break

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My dear reader…I’d like to share with you a fresh story from my day…

So I was in an office…in a specific building somewhere very specific in Khartoum (I don’t even know the address of the office I’m working in…I guess you’ve figured that by now). In the afternoon, I felt like having my usual afternoon coffee and cigarillo. But I didn’t want to smoke in the office (though I had the whole room for myself). So I found the nearest balcony..had my cigarillo ready, my aromatic black cup of coffee (which I prepared 30 min earlier) in my hand and opened the balcony door.

What came next was what I’d like to call a wake up slap…it was a sudden rush of oven-hot, sun-dried scorching winds that drilled their way to my skin as if my whole suit wasn’t there. It was that sensation of standing in the midst of a BIG OVEN with a big shiny projector in your face!

Nevertheless, I embraced nature, embraced what it was telling me in those warm breaths of the Sudanese desert…I listened and smoked…for what seamed like eternity..but was actually less than 2 minutes. I looked at my cigarillo, which usually takes me around 5~6 minutes to smoke, and it wasn’t even half way done. But I just couldn’t get along anymore with the heat, so we decided to part, I turned off my smoke and went back in.

Now the first thing that came to my mind was: Thank God for ACs!…but the second thing I realized is that my coffee…yes that same 30min-old-barely-warm cup of coffee is HOT it was actually steamy again like I first made it!

Now many of you would ask why did I even bother and smoke…well it’s more like a ritual for me after lunch and a busy day, especially if there is a lot more to be done. It’s a means of self pampering and a moment of reflection. Don’t get me wrong here, I’m not a heavy smoker nor am I a promoter of smoking, I just know how to enjoy my cigarillos and cigars, they got their own moods and times…let’s just say we get along.

So the lesson for the day is: If you think you know what nature is and believe you can defy it or play along with it…think again!

Thank you Khartoum!

Volunteering: How It Changed My Life!

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Believe it or not, volunteer work changed my life. The first time I volunteered I was 11 years old! Yes that young. In fact I’m glad my school (ISC) had something called Student Life Organization (SLO) which engages students in their school life to run this student led organization that acts something like a Student Affairs in a typical school.

Starting at that young age helped me overcome some personal weak points, from shyness to knowing how to interact and deal with people and responsibilities. Yet the seed it planted in me…didn’t stop there, it grew multiple folds to flourish in my university life and beyond.

From the first year of university, I just had that drive to give back to community, to serve, to grow, to meet people and so I ended up joining student societies and clubs at my university (AUB) as well as cofounding an NGO called Aie Serve among my involvement with many others that I am still involved in till this day whether as founder or Board Member or Advisor or simply as a member.

So here are some of the things I believe volunteer work gave me:

  • Opened my mind to new ways of thinking about life.
  • Gave me a purpose beyond my own self and my day to day life.
  • Got me to meet the most inspiring people I would have never dreamed of knowing.
  • Made me more friends that I could have possibly done in 50 years.
  • Gave me life changing experiences and challenges that made me mature way faster than many of my colleagues and friends that were not involved in volunteer work.
  • Made me feel proud about the achievements I was able to accomplish with the teams I worked with to make Lebanon a better place to live in. From improving the life of underserved children to giving back to nature through tree planting and beach cleanups to mentoring youth to training and sharing knowledge with aspiring young leaders to many many maaany more.
  • Gave me opportunities to learn how to manage projects, lead teams, do strategic planning, explore my training skills, brainstorm for ideas that will make the world a better place…just to mention a few.
  • Lead me to having a career in consultancy and training that I wouldn’t have if I didn’t do all the volunteer work I did, simply because a typical university life and a 8-5 job wouldn’t have given me half as much opportunities to learn, grow and meet new people.

So my recommendation to you, no matter how old you are or what your social/economic/academic/marital status is, if you’re not engaged in some volunteer work already, then get to it! You can never do too much volunteer work, the more the merrier, and trust me it just gets better with time, just make sure you join the organizations or causes that you feel passionate about or at least interested in, the rest will follow!

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