Never did I, in my right mind and wildest dreams, think I’d live to see the day when my people would rise in unison throughout the country to protest against the sectarian and corrupt establishment.
The beautiful project of a new, secular, free and democratic Lebanon did not start last week with the start of the Revolution, which was instead a response to economic woes; it started when we began to humanize one another and began to see each other as worthy of developing a humane bond of ‘lebanese-hood’ together. It is a process in which through shared pain and grief, we have come to realize that laughter, music and fraternal love does exist amongst ourselves and towards each other.
Lebanon was never established or meant to be a state for ALL its people. Regardless if the peoples of Antiquity saw us as a collective group or not, the Lebanon we know today is built on land whose peoples were never “Great”.
In other words, to make things clear, there is no “Make Lebanon Great Again” — no state, territory or people on this planet can have the honor of coining the word “Great” to its history. Christians, Sunnis, Shi’a, Druze, Jews and others were in fact on good terms at times, no doubt about that, but sectarian violence has been recorded to exist on this land ever since the beginning of time.
The hateful and divisive political discourse we have been hearing for decades is to be transformed, through love and inclusiveness, to the establishment of a new Republic.
The traditional Lebanese Nationalism of the past, rooted in a Maronite-irredentist project is to be destroyed. The traditional belief that Sunni Muslims are unpatriotic and pan-syrian-arabist is to be destroyed. The traditional belief that Armenians or Jews of Lebanon cannot be “loyal” to Lebanon is to be destroyed. The belief that Shi’a Muslims are for the most part partisans of a terrorist organization is to be destroyed. It doesn’t matter if we are of Arab, Armenian, Assyrian, Jewish or Phoenician descent. It does not matter if we practice a certain faith or not. It does not matter if we are Sunni, Shi’a, Druze, Alawite, Maronite, Greek Orthodox, Greek Catholic, Syriac Orthodox, Chaldean, Protestant, Roman Catholic, Jewish, Armenian Orthodox or Armenian Catholic. We need not to ignore each others diverse identities, but to celebrate them; your religious and/or ethnic identities are not threatened! Aside from your achievements, it is who you aspire to be that will define who you really are.
It is our job, our mission and our goal, as both, inheritors of this land and newcomers, to pledge to break with our disruptive history, all the while learning about the mistakes our forefathers made, to create a new, beautiful and inclusive society. A society based on civic engagement and the will-to-belong, rather than the right of blood — to the different sects and confessions. Our country has all the potential to being Great! (And we shall make it Great!)
We need a new Lebanon — born out of the ashes of its not-so-great history — to create a civic country, for the people by the people, based on the traditional basic tenants of freedom, equality, secularism and the pursuit of happiness; but also feminism, ecology and workers rights.
I am also in no means belittling the pain some people might still feel as remnants of the Civil War and other tragic events in our common history; we must remember our dead — all our dead, as martyrs of the new country that they strived, in different ways, to achieve. Although, we will be the ones to establish the country they never knew could exist.