NROP: Beirut Explosion – How Lack of Responsibility Blew Up In People’s Faces.

Last week, we saw a video of an explosion in the port of Beirut that shook us all. The shake was literal for some, while a bit more metaphorical for others. “Terrorism?” you might have initially thought. Supposedly, it was “only” an accident.

After the explosion (and the demolition of most of downtown Beirut; and the death of over a hundred people; and the injury of thousands more), the world learned that there were almost three thousand tones of ammonium nitrate being stored at that port. This is commonly used as fertilizer and normally mixed with chemicals that stabilize it, making it less prone to explosion without a spark. However, from some old photos, it looks like it was Nitroprill – a presumed knock-off of Nitropril that produces it for coal mine usage (controlled explosions), people have labeled it a knock-off, using that as the answer to the question of “Why did this blow up on its own like that?

Aside from the obvious aftermath of trauma (physical and mental), there is also secondary aftermath – protests. People have come out to protest the government. No, this is not only happening because of the explosion, but it has definitely been the straw that broke the camel’s back. The people of Beirut are upset that such dangerous substance was stored so close without proper security measures in place. They want those who knew to pay for their mistakes.

At the moment, Lebanon is also struggling economically, having defaulted on their debt a few months ago. The devastation of many businesses in downtown Beirut definitely will not help the economy.

Lebanon ministers are vacating their posts, quoting “sterile regime that botched several opportunities” and “failure to reform” as their reasons for leaving.

Al Jazeera covers the situation related to the protests live here.

But let us back up for a moment and see how the “bomb” ended up in Beirut. Apparently, it was on a Russian ship from Georgia, which headed to Mozambique… in 2013. How did it end up in Beirut? Some sources claim “technical issues” made the ship dock in Lebanon. The ship was inspected and forbidden from farther sailing. The cargo was seized and the crew was mostly repatriated.

However, the captain of that ship claims that its owners had money problems, which was why the ship had to stop in Beirut and pick up additional cargo. Unfortunately, they were unable to pay some fees that Lebanon requested and so the ship was impounded (with the cargo). The captain and a couple members of the crew were asked to stay on the ship until the cargo was moved and the ship sold. The cargo was moved a year later off the ship and into a container onshore.

Multiple people tried to warn the government about the ticking time-bomb.

“Customs officials sent letters to a Judge of Urgent Matters in Beirut seeking guidance on how to sell or dispose of it at least six times from 2014 to 2017.”

BBC

The captain has some ideas on how this problem should have been resolved:

  • sink the ship with the cargo
  • anchor the ship WITH the cargo in it
  • sell the cargo to farmers/ use it to fertilize soil

Is it not weird that 2,750 tones of ammonium nitrate were just abandoned by the owner? If you are interested in some of the conspiracy theories related to the explosion, check out Firstposts’ article entitled: “Hariri verdict, a Russian-owned ship and Hezbollah-Israel animosity: Conspiracy theories abound over Beirut blast.”

Some of you who have been reading my stuff for a while now might be aware of the below story. I will recap it quickly to fill in the others.

My ex-co-worker would very rarely take care of things right away. If a piece of paper made it onto their desk, you could bet that it would be buried beneath a pile of other papers or food containers. Relying on someone like that can truly test one’s patience. It did mine.

“Were you able to complete the task I mentioned to you the other day?” I would ask so many times.

“Oh, I forgot. Why?” the response would be.

Sometimes the task was done after that, sometimes it was not. The logic was to not do anything that was not an emergency (And “emergency” is a relative term, too, right?) or that was not presented to you multiple times already. Less work is less work. Until there is a problem and then you have to scramble to get everything done at once.

As someone who has a rather strong work ethic, the above-mentioned technique is not something I could ever adopt. Why do I mention my ex-co-worker? I do so because, today, I would like to discuss accountability and responsibility with you.

Have you ever heard someone say: “That is not my job” and then walk away? I know I have. Even though something might not be a part of my regular duties, I will try to find someone who should take care of it. Saying something is not for you to take care of is like Pilate washing his hands and declaring he had nothing to do with the decision to crucify Jesus.

For those of you who are not familiar with the Biblical story:

  1. The Jewish people wanted to crucify Jesus.
  2. Pilate’s wife told him not to proclaim Jesus as guilty because of a dream she had.
  3. Pilate tries to crucify Barabbas (notorious criminal) and set Jesus free instead.
  4. The crowd does not agree and asks that Barabbas be freed and Jesus crucified.
  5. Unable to sway the crowd, Pilate capitulates, but before he does so, he washes his hands in front of everyone and says that he is not guilty of whatever may be done to Jesus.

Did Pilate crucify Jesus? No. But did he prevent the killing of Jesus? No.

Just because you do not do something directly does not mean that you were not involved. I am pretty sure that you have all heard about the “See something, say something” campaign. It makes us all responsible for our micro-environment. While that slogan was created to help prevent terrorism, I believe that it is now being used for other purposes as well.

If you see an unattended bag at the airport (or wherever), you have a duty to alert someone who can investigate that matter further. A few years ago, a highway in front of my workplace was blocked for a an hour or so as the SWAT team investigated a bag on the side of the road. It turned out to be a property of a homeless person. Some might say it was a waste of time and resources. Maybe. But at least we are all still here to talk about it.

If you see a child at school getting bullied, I hope that you stand up for them, or at least notify an adult if you do not want to get directly involved.

If you see a co-worker being discriminated against, I hope you say something.

We often think that since we do not have control over some major issues, it does not matter if we take ownership and responsibility. To me, that is a sad reality because we are ALL important. We CAN make a difference. Our inaction can lead to a disaster, no matter the size.

But I understand that some people are trained to turn a blind eye. Turns out, my ex-boss had the same policy – they only took care of something that came upon their desk multiple times. Otherwise, the thing “might have taken care of itself.”

While at a different job, I tried to help someone get the answers they needed and so I started emailing various people in the organization. Some flat out said they had no idea and washed their hands. Some did not know the answer but suggested I contacted someone else. I kept digging. And digging. All of a sudden, one of the people who refused to help found out I was still working on that issue and decided to threaten me. It was not my duty and I was breaking some company laws for asking on someone else’s behalf. To those that are curious how it ended: because the company has not dealt with something like that in decade, and had no idea how to handle it, they decided to refuse to deal with it now.

What does all of that have to do with Beirut? It just goes to show that we have to take ownership and be responsible for our actions (or inactions for that matter) in every situation. While it might not have any consequences right away, it might cause a large explosion several years down the line. Will you be ready to pay the price then?

  • Do you handle things right away or do you prefer to wait until you are prompted a couple more times?
  • Have you ever brought an issue to someone else’s attention and they did nothing to solve it? If so, share your experience.
  • Do you “say something” when you “see something” or do you prefer to let things be as they are?
  • Do you have any conspiracy theories regarding the explosion in Beirut? Please share.

Stay golden,

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64 thoughts on “NROP: Beirut Explosion – How Lack of Responsibility Blew Up In People’s Faces.

Add yours

  1. Do you handle things right away or do you prefer to wait until you are prompted a couple more times?

    Well now, that depends. For something urgent, I deal with it now. If it’s merely important or habitual, I often break tasks down. However, if someone has to remind me, I get the issue in question resolves immediately. That would make me feel like a failure.

    Have you ever brought an issue to someone else’s attention and they did nothing to solve it? If so, share your experience.

    Yes. I worked as a safety officer for a large company. When I was hired, I was told that my role was independent. That is, the safety issues came first. Which was sometimes true. Unless it really looked to negatively affect profit. Or if someone thought that I should be more flexible. Or if it would negatively affect profit. I found it very frustrating. To me “right” is the correct choice and it should supersede the money.

    Do you “say something” when you “see something” or do you prefer to let things be as they are?

    It would depend, again, on the consequences of speaking versus not speaking. However, I’ve never considered “stay in your lane” when evaluating a situation.

    Do you have any conspiracy theories regarding the explosion in Beirut? Please share.

    Most likely it’s as you wrote, a result of unfortunate intersecting factors but I do find the Russia ones interesting.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. I am always the responsible one, and if something is not right, and no one is doing anything about it, I will always be the one to step up and try to right he wrongs. Yes, I get myself in a lot of “trouble” sometimes, but it’s not easy being the responsible one. Right is right and wrong is wrong.

      Liked by 2 people

        1. Right – again!
          Safety equipment costs BIG money.
          They preach safety safety safety… so much safety – but when it comes down to it, money talk is louder.
          I work in the chemical industry. I do know a couple of things or I wouldn’t be doing what I do.

          Liked by 1 person

    2. I absolutely detest the “stay in your lane” phrase.

      Thank you for sharing your experience with me. It’s really sad to hear that the “right” thing is not always the preferred option.

      It’s interesting how you consider yourself a failure when someone has to remind you of something while others think of those people as annoying nuisances.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Sigh.

    I’ve mixed feelings about this post because I’ve been brought up taking on responsibility that isn’t mine and therefore unable to take responsibility that is mine.

    I’m like you in work. Push and push and sometimes watch helplessly whilst my recommendations aren’t acted on. I teach. So they will give support if it’s worse… though they listen to me now and trust my opinions.

    Definitely see something say something.

    I just, I don’t know. It’s something I’m struggling a lot with. All the little things that I end up doing that aren’t my responsibility. Are they mine or not? And those I don’t do. Was it mine?

    Love, light and glitter

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I hear you.
      You bring up a good point. Because I take ownership on so many occasions, some think it’s a good enough excuse to dump more responsibilities onto me. It does feel unfair at times. And it decreases your energy which in turn can mean that you will not be able to complete your own responsibilities.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Very well written.

    This story reminds me much of the Chernobyl explosion.
    I have read the stories, I have seen the series (I RECOMMEND!)

    Basically what happened there was that 25 year old guy was appointed as the “senior expert” from one day to the other and he had to lead this test.
    So, he was forced into taking a certain responsibility (despite him not wanting to).
    He was pushed by his manager, who was pushed by his manager and so on.

    It takes balls to say that you are not ready for a certain responsibility.
    But, time and resources is money, so often times you will be forced to do it.

    I have been dealing with these kind of Safety documents a lot in my career.
    They are super vague. They say a lot without saying anything specific.
    They are also often copy pasted from one project to the other.
    “Just change the names and stuff” my manager once told me.
    I have spend a lot of energy to change this mindset, but never succeeded.
    They want something that covers the entire ass instead of covering each cheek individually.

    What a lot of people tend to forget is that everyone has responsibilities, but only 1 person shall have the accountability.
    And usually that accountable person would shout at the people below him and fix the problem with money.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Absolutely!
      “They are super vague. They say a lot without saying anything specific.”
      Yup. I can see that.
      I’ve been told to change names, etc., too. I want to scream: “Just read this damn thing! I swear, it won’t take long.” And then we have the same document used for AGES. Outdated…

      Like

      1. Oh no Goldie, documents are definitely not made to read or to be used.
        They are just there to cover the ass when needed.

        As for safety rules, sometimes too much safety can actually bring a hazard.
        For example, when you doing electrical measurement you have to wear rubber gloves as a minimum, but if you want to be fully protected, leather gloves must be worn on top.
        So you end up with hands the size of Canada and then you have to somehow complete the task.
        And oh yeah, it’s only 40 degree C outside.

        Now I do understand if you are standing in front of some large complicated machine with exposed parts everywhere.
        But for measuring on something that has NO risk at all (e.g. socket) – COME ON.

        And when I talk to the “experts”, they say “yeah well you never know, it’s better to have everything covered”.

        Well maybe you should paint the parking lot in rainbow colors in case I arrive on my unicorn at work. 😐

        Liked by 2 people

        1. Silly me for expecting written things to be read.

          ROFL rainbow-colored parking lot.

          It’s true. I knew of bus drivers around the world that would stop before or after the bus stop depending on your need, traffic, etc. Now, they refuse to stop a meter before or after because they are worried you are going to step weirdly, sprain your ankle and sue them for not stopping at a bus stop. I’ve known of bus drivers helping disabled people in wheelchairs get situated but not anymore. For whatever safety reason, they cannot assist with that anymore. Since you can get sued for anything, people often prefer to wash their hands. Like you mentioned the gloves. Well, as a worker, you cannot sue the company if you get shocked because you should have been wearing all the gloves!

          Liked by 1 person

  4. Lots to think about here Goldie. I used to say to my staff, “If you see or hear something and do nothing about it, then it seems like you condone it.” This is such a tragedy that could have been avoided.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Agreed.
      Unfortunately, I feel that the lowest man on the totem pole is always at fault. They see something, they say something, but are either ignored or unable to do something. Until something happens, everything is OK, but once it does, it’s rare the man who didn’t listen is faulted. Instead, it’s the one who saw something but did nothing…
      If a kid comes to their parents and says: “Mommy, Daddy, there’s dynamite in my room. I read it can explode. What can I do about it?,” you expect the parents to act, not the child.

      Like

  5. I always dealt with things immediately and when came to things out of my area of work I would do my best to resolve it. Your dealings with ex-coworkers sounds like where I live, nobody cares enough to resolve issues they just drag on. Thank you for the insight on the Beirut bomb this is more logical than a terrorist attack at this time.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I agree with carhicks, from the information you mentioned sounds like the tragedy could’ve been avoided. I can’t believe custom officials had to request guidance so many times for that type of matter! Smh.

    At work I tend to do things by the deadlines, and unfortunately the reminders do help. I keep using my newbie status as an excuse as compared to someone who has 10-15 years of experience. I try to organize things by what’s due the soonest or what’s the most important tasks. For me it’s always been the “I don’t have enough time” excuse since my planning period can be used for meetings, conferences, and trainings. I think that’s why I sometimes end up in the needing-reminders-of-deadlines group. I’m sure if I had an extra planning period or if all my lesson plans were ready for the whole school year, I’d stay up to date with everything. But idk if maybe I just need better time management skills/planning strategies.

    Thought provoking post & questions!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for being honest about it.
      My particular ex-co-worker had plenty of time, but chose to use it for other things (often far removed from anything related to work). THEN, they complained about not having much time. Oh, and they consistently took time off. It didn’t help with time management.

      I’ve heard from other teachers that they have too many things on their plates and not enough time. I cannot say for certain if it’s 100% true or not. In my field of work, I met too many people complain about time only for me to find out it was their own fault. They either wasted their time on silly stuff or pretended to be busy to avoid additional responsibilities.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. For sure! I see. Someone was recently telling me how some coworkers will time their breaks so that they get extra break time, just waste time basically. Your experience with your ex-co-worker reminded me of that.

        Yeah, definitely, I see how consistently taking time off, wasting time on silly stuff, or pretending to be busy doesn’t help with time management or with completing one’s work responsibilities that one gets paid for. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Do you handle things right away or do you prefer to wait until you are prompted a couple more times?
    I try to handle things as soon as I am able to—I juggle a lot of deadlines and have to reprioritize everything when a new request is added to my workload. I also volunteer to take on a lot of projects and tasks that are technically “not my job.” Why? Because they need doing and I can get them over the finish line, or at least a lot closer to it.

    Have you ever brought an issue to someone else’s attention and they did nothing to solve it? If so, share your experience.

    Oh, always. I suggest solutions to issues all the time, which are met with a polite “thanks for bringing this to our attention,” and then crickets. So frustrating!

    Do you “say something” when you “see something” or do you prefer to let things be as they are?

    I’m an outspoken Karen. It’s difficult for me to bite my tongue, so I usually don’t.

    Do you have any conspiracy theories regarding the explosion in Beirut? Please share.

    No. I tend to not buy into conspiracy theories, though some are pretty entertaining.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Of course, you’re a hardworker. I already knew that. Does it ever make you feel bitter though, when you see others do only the fraction of what you do all the time? Or do you have the healthy approach of: “This was my choice and I don’t look at others”?

      Ha. It just reminded me of me trying to covert certain things at work so that it could be done remotely (before COVID-19). No one wanted to even think about it, which is usually the case when you present them with “more work” (even if it would decrease the amount of work in the long-run). And then we were hit with a pandemic and people had to frantically figure things out. …

      How was this week for you?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. It irritates me sometimes, but I generally look at it as benefitting the whole AND myself down the line. One of my favorite internal dialogue phrases I use regularly to motivate myself and keep focusing on the positive is: “your future self will thank you for this.” It helps bring the focus back to why I choose to do the heavy lifting when others are lazier and let everyone else puck up the slack. Yes, they will benefit from my efforts, but SO WILL I. The added benefit is that I am more respected, relied upon, and rewarded than they are. (Which also means I’m disliked and belittled behind my back, but eff them anyway…)

        Yup. And them we get to utter our most favorite version of the phrase: I told you so.” It’s delayed gratification, but still ultimately satisfying.

        This week was my first one back to work after our staycation and it was BUSY. Mostly good, though! Yours?

        Liked by 1 person

        1. I try to do the same, but sometimes it doesn’t look like the benefits will ever come so I begin to doubt. Thank you for inspiring me. Knowing that there are other people out there who put it the work makes me want to do better.

          Oh, it was SO busy. Stressful, too. But we’re on the verge of a new week and a new challenge and I am excited! Stay golden!

          Liked by 1 person

  8. I want to say I usually work on something as soon as I get it… but then sometimes I am doing something else then I start on a new thing and get caught up in it I forget about what I had been working on before that and then something new catches my attention and that goes to the top of the pile and then a remainder or deadline will jolt me back to the original idea and then I finish it, hopefully.
    I usually set deadlines and reminders for myself to remember where I should be with something and when someone asks me to do something which I see that I might lose track of, I usually tell them to check in with me at so and so a time for an update… This way am able to keep track and keep myself accountable as I cross check progress and deadlines…
    Funny enough most things usually get completed just before deadline even though there could have plenty of time to work on it… Probably a habit from school of studying just before exams or working on an assignment due Monday on Sunday Evening (if not early Monday morning ha)
    I guess some of us need some sort of urgency to deal with things… like we have known about climate change forever but some radical shifts or consequences have to happen before the any progressive reforms start
    Even looking at the COVID response governments have stood accused of not doing what needs to be done until the numbers start spiralling out of control.

    I guess its also easier to look for someone to blame than to have done things that should have been done… some else’s problem sometimes becomes your problem too.

    My country is just one more spark away from an explosion.
    ~B

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I like that idea of yours – to ask others to check for an update at a certain time.

      Ahhh, the good old school days when you would do everything last minute. It must be in our DNA.

      “some else’s problem sometimes becomes your problem too.” They should put this on mugs and t-shirts. Golden.

      I hope that Zim opens her eyes soon enough and turns around before igniting that explosion.

      Like

  9. Apathy: What an interesting subject for you to get into; it’s been the cause of some friction between me and my brother lately… I’m the apathetic one, you see. He wants certain reactions from me; he wants me to care about certain things. But I don’t. If he thinks he heard a sound, whatever; If it’s a robber, we’ll find out soon enough. If the dishes don’t get done in the morning, whatever. The world keeps turning. I find it hard to see the importance. I find it hard to care.

    My sister even wrote a story about it at one point. I might have mentioned it before: about a teenage girl who replies that “one thing is much like another” to all the choices for her birthday party, and it doesn’t turn out so well? That story had a happy ending where the girl swears off her apathetic ways (after her only party guest is the ridiculous guy her parents try to match her with). But I’m still stuck obsessing over the bigger picture.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Are you sure you’re not just depressed? I heard that “not caring” can be a hallmark symptom. (Disclaimer: I am not a licensed professional and I’m not trying to pass off my comments as anything other than just my persona, but unprofessional opinion.)

      Yes, the world keeps turning. But then, you find that you don’t have anything to eat your dinner on. And all of a sudden, you see ants and some other bugs crawling around your house. Whenever you enter the house, you smell rot in the air. Do you really not care or do you know that someone else will take care of it?

      A far as the “bigger picture” is concerned – you need the small puzzle pieces to fit and CREATE the bigger picture. Otherwise, it will never appear or make sense.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Depressed? That’s a possibility. But as there’s no way for me to confirm it or disprove it, it doesn’t matter much. Besides, at this point, my apathy thing is practically in the domain of philosophy.

        It does get done, whether by me or someone else. Just not right away, which can be inconvenient for people… Especially people who long for a spick and span, “normal” household.

        That’s actually a really good point… Even I can’t argue with that one…

        Liked by 1 person

  10. The bigger the task, the less motivated they are in getting it done. It’s sad to see something so terrifying and devastating happen when you know that it could’ve been solved yeaaaaars ago. How can anyone who has knowledge of it even live in peace knowing its existence and now its destruction. I don’t know if this will push other dangerous protocols to change the way things are done around the world but I hope something this stupid doesn’t happen again. What will it take for people to realize the risks????

    Liked by 1 person

    1. From my experience – people prefer to be reactive rather than proactive. If there is no issue, they just focus on other things. If something happens, they THEN implement a million silly rules (most of them more annoying than anything else) so it doesn’t happen again. But what about the things that haven’t? Plus, too many people say: “Well, nothing bad happened a thousand times so we are good.” Well…

      Liked by 1 person

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