Hektoen International

A Journal of Medical Humanities


Rima Nasser
Beirut, Lebanon


Cedar tree of Lebanon. Anonymous photographer, modified by the author. Used with permission.
Cedar tree of Lebanon. Originally located atop the police and investigative branch building in Martyr’s Square in downtown BeirutPhoto by an anonymous photographer2021Private collection. Modified from the original by Rima NasserPublished with permission. 

“We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.


This is not an incendiary rant about the politicians and people whose greed and inhumaneness pushed Lebanon into an abyss of ignorance and dereliction. This also is not a tale averring the grandeur of this magical country or the historical exploits of its diaspora in medical and other fields. This is an essay about hope.

What is hope? Dictionaries define it as “a desire accompanied by expectation of or belief in fulfillment”1 or “a feeling of expectation and desire for a particular thing to happen.”2 But hope is more than that. Van Lit et al., after an extensive review of the literature to find a better definition, concluded that “hope appears to be a way of thinking or being that is often both positive and oriented towards the future or goals.”3 According to the authors, the power of hope motivated patients with spinal cord injuries to press on with their therapy, which led to improvements that inspired further hope and led to more improvement. Zuchetto et al. also looked at the impact of hope in patients with spinal cord injuries and found that it “helped them cope with the fundamental changes to their daily lives. Hope played an important role in articulating coping strategies and setting and achieving goals.”4 One clinical psychiatrist said in a blog that “hope is often the only thing between man and the abyss. As long as a patient, individual or victim has hope, they can recover from anything and everything.”5

Lebanon is injured. The entire region shook on August 4, 2020, when the largest non-nuclear explosion ravaged an already debilitated country. Thousands of those who could afford to leave and make a life for themselves and their families elsewhere did just that. Those who could not leave right away started making plans to do so. One would think the event would have been an epiphany, the proverbial heart attack that makes the patient quit smoking. Sadly, it was just another blow to a people who have become bone-tired of being labeled as resilient. For those who stayed, the situation continued to worsen as medicines, fuel, and other basic necessities became more and more scarce. Hospitals are now unable to provide adequate care because of the shortages, and some are closing their doors. So, where do you find hope? Wherever you can. In the random little acts of kindness that people offer one another. In the friendships that provide love and support. In faith. You find hope in the knowledge that our forefathers, despite having been through wars and famine and occupation, were still able to overcome and build and thrive.

The “Glory of Lebanon” is attributable to the people of Lebanon who persevere, notwithstanding cataclysm after calamity. Despite all the setbacks this country has had, and the recurrent brain drains over the centuries, Lebanon can still boast having some of the world’s best physicians, most talented surgeons, and amazing caregivers. Those who have left still carry their country in their hearts and minds. Yes, the Lebanese are resilient, and that is not a bad word. Hope and resilience will help mend, repair, and cure. This sickness and these injuries can and will heal if treated properly.



  1. Merriam-Webster online dictionary.
  2. Oxford online dictionary.
  3. Van Lit, A., Kayes, N. A. (2014). “A narrative review of hope after spinal cord injury: implications for physiotherapy.” New Zealand Journal of Physiotherapy.
  4. Zuchetto, M. A., Schoeller, S. D., Tholl, A. D., Lima, D. K. S., Neves da Silva Bampi, L., Ross, C. M. (2020). “The meaning of hope for individuals with spinal cord injury in Brazil.” British Journal of Nursing, 29(9), 526–532. https://doi.org/10.12968/bjon.2020.29.9.526.
  5. Archer, Dale. “The power of hope.” Psychology Today. Online post. July 31, 2013.



RIMA MICHEL NASSER was born in Beirut, Lebanon to parents of Palestinian origin. She started her undergraduate education at the American University of Beirut, but transferred to Johns Hopkins University when the situation in Lebanon deteriorated. She continued to Duke University Medical School where she got her MD, and then did her training in orthopedic surgery at the University of Illinois in Chicago. She is a board-certified orthopedic surgeon who has also completed two postgraduate fellowships. She was in practice for several years in the US before returning to Lebanon and is currently a Clinical Assistant Professor at the LAU School of Medicine. She started the orthopedic residency program there and directed it until 2019.


Second prize winner of the Glory of Lebanon Contest, in collaboration with the Lebanese American University Gilbert and Rose-Marie Chagoury School of Medicine

Winter 2022  |  Sections  |  Asia

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