The Rules of En­gage­ments


Com­mu­ni­ca­tion is an art form as old as time. Whether it’s a flock of birds chirp­ing in a tree or whales singing to each other over great dis­tances, the mes­sages are al­ways in­dica­tive of a cer­tain sit­u­a­tion.

In these cases, the mes­sages also serve as a personal iden­ti­fier and a ves­sel car­ry­ing a very spe­cific mean­ing. And, when it comes to ad­dress­ing the masses, so said mes­sages re­quire a dif­fer­ent kind of for­mu­la­tion to en­sure clar­ity re­lated to the out­come of the in­tended ob­jec­tive.

Sur­pris­ingly, in ref­er­ence to the re­cent po­lit­i­cal cam­paigns, and con­sid­er­ing the ad­vances wit­nessed on all fronts through­out the world, deroga­tory is a word that comes to mind. In­sult­ing is an­other espe­cially when com­par­ing how the dif­fer­ent po­lit­i­cal fac­tions went about pro­mot­ing their mem­bers for the Beirut mu­nic­i­pal­ity elec­tions.

Any for­eigner, who hap­pens to have been in the city dur­ing that pe­riod, would not have been mis­taken for think­ing that the mes­sages com­mu­ni­cated are im­ma­ture in the sense that they seem to be fab­ri­cated for chil­dren rather than ma­ture adults.

What was equally lu­di­crous is the fact that there did not seem to be any kind of con­sid­er­a­tion ex­pressed to the vot­ers who have the con­sti­tu­tional power to elect when bid­ding them to take sides. The im­ma­tu­rity that was blar­ingly ob­vi­ous, and in some cases loud, mim­icked a modus operandi that in it­self pre­dates an­tiq­uity.

The slo­gans used were de­void of any kind of mean­ing and the can­di­dates’ posters were out of fo­cus, faded, and of­ten times, highly in­ap­pro­pri­ate. Luck­ily, and to the sur­prise of ev­ery­one, the only cam­paign wor­thy of note for be­ing well-thought out and ex­act­ing, was that of Beirut Mad­i­nati, which was well ex­e­cuted.

Al­though the op­po­nents re­marked that the 24 in­di­vid­u­als run­ning had no chance, pub­lic opinion was grad­u­ally swing­ing in favour as that cam­paign, which also had a so­phis­ti­cated logo re­flect­ing a cul­ture and iden­tity of the cap­i­tal, was the first, in a long long long while that was on par with those staged in first world na­tions.

Iron­i­cally, though not sur­pris­ingly, other fac­tions im­me­di­ately started tak­ing no­tice and even went as far as copy-past­ing Beirut Mad­i­nati’s pro­gramme as their own. Ad­di­tional tac­tics were also im­i­tated in hope of a bet­ter out­come.

There re­ally is noth­ing more to say ex­cept that if some­one is go­ing to do some­thing, they bet­ter do it right and Beirut Mad­i­nati def­i­nitely changed a lot of things, start­ing with the ba­sic rule­book of ef­fec­tive com­mu­ni­ca­tion.

They may have lost, but the game is cer­tainly far from over.

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