Thank you for you complements... I really appreciate them.
You responded to my specific observations with broad generalizations about where you feel Lebanon is headed.
I cannot hold you to it, because I think that if I were in your shoes, I'd probably do the same - most likely with less skill than you.
With regards to some of the points you make, I will state the following:
I would like to believe that Lebanese behave the way they do because the country is still in an initial phase of the "development process." I would also like to believe that dynamic systems always correct themselves for the better. A good counter-example to that claim is the re-segregation of American schools that is taking place today as whites and blacks willingly move to separate neighborhoods and send their kids to all-white & all-black schools. However, people here are noticing that development, and trying their best to arrest it.
The thing I keep on having to remind myself about Lebanon is that we don't have to just live together - we've been doing that for ages. We have to start thinking about how it is we want to live together.
A friend once told me that the diversity in America shocked her after leaving Lebanon (which she thought was one of the most diverse countries in the world). My response to her was that in America you have 300 people with different backgrounds, and in Lebanon, you have 20. The difference is that those 300 people each have their own apartment, whereas those 20 all live in one room.
The issue here is not physical space; it is psychological. I feel that in Lebanon, we live with a village mentality in the internet age. People (especially our parents) still judge each other and interact as if they were living in a village. Not only is their “group mentality” very strong, but the criteria for someone to be included in that group is ridiculously rigid. It’s almost like, if someone enters a house with his left foot instead of his right, he is automatically disqualified from consideration.
Whether or not this kind of behavior was a virtue a century ago, when the main form of transportation was horses and donkeys, is not for me to decide. But during an era when thousands of Lebanese from all over the country come together in one university campus, this behavior becomes ridiculous. Have any of you noticed how Lebanese insist on retaining their “village identities” even though their families have been living in Beirut for generations? My reaction to this is why? Why haven’t I grown up believing that I am part of the “cosmopolitan community” in Beirut, rather than a village that I barely visit twice a year? Mustapha, you and I, and the majority of other Lebanese bloggers think in a similar fashion, so why do we still identify ourselves with towns or sects even though we are probably more similar to each other than we’ll ever be to our cousins or relatives?
As I said in my previous post, our whole psychology needs to change. This is no easy task… and success is questionable. However, my hope is that this huge national gathering that took place only a couple of weeks ago will nudge things towards the right direction. In other words, I am hoping for an acceleration of Mustapha’s “development process.”