Making peace is a marathon | May El-Khalil | Summary and Q&A

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August 16, 2013
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TED
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Making peace is a marathon | May El-Khalil

TL;DR

This content is about the power of running to bring people together and promote peace, as demonstrated through the creation of the Beirut Marathon Association.

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Questions & Answers

Q: How did the speaker's experience with running change after the accident?

After the accident, the speaker realized they could no longer run themselves. This prompted them to organize a marathon so that others could experience the joy and benefits of running.

Q: How did the speaker convince people in Lebanon, a country constantly on the brink of war, to participate in the marathon?

The speaker and their team had to start from scratch, visiting various locations and meeting people from all walks of life. By being honest, transparent, and sharing personal stories, they were able to build trust and convince people to participate in the marathon.

Q: What challenges did the marathon face during Lebanon's unstable years?

Between 2006 and 2009, Lebanon went through unstable and divisive years, including invasions and political assassinations. Despite these challenges, the marathon continued to bring people together and show that political problems can be overcome.

Q: How has the marathon impacted Lebanon and the international community?

The marathon has gained credibility and respect from both the Lebanese and the international community. It has become a national day of unity and a platform for peace. The success of the marathon has even inspired other countries, such as Iraq, Egypt, and Syria, to seek help in organizing similar sporting events.

Summary

The speaker, a marathon runner from Lebanon, shares her belief that running can change the world. She talks about how Lebanon, a country once torn apart by civil war and political fragmentation, finds unity through the annual marathon. She shares her personal journey of overcoming a life-threatening accident and deciding to organize the marathon as a way to give back to her community and promote peace. Despite the challenges of introducing the concept of running and convincing people to participate, the marathon grew and became a platform for peace and unity. Even during times of political instability, the marathon continued to bring people together and overcome obstacles. It gained credibility and support from both the Lebanese and international community. Through the marathon, the culture of giving and doing good was fostered, stereotypes were broken, and future leaders were created. The marathon has become one of the largest running events in the Middle East and serves as a platform for hope and cooperation in an unstable part of the world.

Questions & Answers

Q: How did the speaker's personal experience with running lead to the creation of the marathon?

The speaker used to be a marathon runner and found that long-distance running not only improved her well-being but also helped her meditate and dream big. However, she was involved in a life-threatening accident that left her unable to run. Determined to still make a difference through running, she decided to organize a marathon that others could participate in.

Q: Why did the speaker believe that organizing a marathon could benefit her community and promote peace?

After her accident, the speaker wanted to find a way to give back to her community and escape her own pain. She believed that organizing a marathon could help build bridges with the outside world, showcase the true colors of Lebanon and the Lebanese people, and promote peace and harmony.

Q: How did the speaker introduce the concept of running to a nation that was divided by politics and religion?

The speaker and her team had to start from scratch and spent almost two years visiting different parts of the country, meeting people from all walks of life. They personally engaged with mayors, NGOs, schoolchildren, politicians, militiamen, and ordinary citizens, from both mosques and churches. By walking the talk and sharing her personal story, she was able to build trust and convince people to join the marathon.

Q: How did the marathon grow despite the political problems faced by Lebanon?

The marathon faced challenges such as the assassination of the prime minister and the country's unstable years, but for every disaster, the marathon found ways to bring people together. During the times of political turmoil, they organized smaller events like the United We Run campaign and negotiated alternative routes when parts of the city center were shut down by protests. The marathon gained credibility and support from both the Lebanese and international community.

Q: How did the marathon become a platform for peace and unity?

The marathon started to be seen as a platform for peace and unity after the United We Run campaign, where over 60,000 people participated, wearing white T-shirts with no political slogans. The marathon welcomed runners from all backgrounds, including the young, elderly, disabled, mentally challenged, and elite and amateur runners. Different themes were introduced, such as runs for the environment, breast cancer, love for Lebanon, and peace. It became a symbol of hope and cooperation in an unstable region.

Q: How did the culture of giving and doing good develop through the marathon?

The marathon supported charities and volunteers, raising funds for their causes and encouraging others to give. This culture of giving and doing good became contagious and helped reshape Lebanon. Stereotypes were broken, and the marathon became a platform for change-makers and future leaders.

Q: How did the marathon's success impact other countries in the region?

The marathon gained so much respect in the region that government officials from other countries, such as Iraq, Egypt, and Syria, approached the organization for help in structuring similar sporting events. The marathon became one of the largest running events in the Middle East, serving as a platform for hope and cooperation in a fragile and unstable part of the world.

Q: What obstacles did the marathon face during its growth?

The marathon faced political problems, including government resignations and a lack of a president and prime minister for a year. There were also challenges with organizing the marathon in a country constantly at the brink of war. However, through negotiation, alternative routes were found, and even government protesters became sideline cheerleaders.

Q: How did the marathon overcome challenges during times of political instability?

Despite the unstable years, invasions, and assassinations that brought Lebanon close to another civil war, the marathon continued. It served as a symbol of resilience and hope during difficult times. The marathon showed that political problems could be overcome through cooperation and the shared goal of promoting peace.

Q: What impact has the marathon had on Lebanon and the region?

The marathon has had a significant impact on Lebanon and the region. It has become one of the largest running events in the Middle East and gained credibility from both the Lebanese and international communities. The marathon has fostered a culture of giving and doing good, broken stereotypes, and created change-makers and future leaders. Its success has inspired other countries in the region to seek its help in organizing similar events. It serves as a symbol of hope and cooperation in an unstable part of the world.

Takeaways

The speaker's journey of organizing the marathon in Lebanon shows the power of running in promoting peace and unity. Despite the country's history of civil war, political fragmentation, and ongoing challenges, the marathon has found ways to bring people together and overcome obstacles. It has become a platform for hope and cooperation, fostering a culture of giving and breaking stereotypes. The marathon's success has inspired other countries in the region, emphasizing the potential for running as a means to create positive change.

Summary & Key Takeaways

  • The speaker believes that running can change the world and that organizing a marathon in Lebanon can bring people together and promote peace and harmony.

  • The marathon in Lebanon faced challenges due to the country's political problems and history of division, but it managed to overcome obstacles and gain credibility from both the Lebanese and international community.

  • The Beirut Marathon Association (BMA) has become a respected event in the region and has inspired other countries like Iraq, Egypt, and Syria to organize similar sporting events. It has also supported charities and encouraged a culture of giving and doing good.

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