Friday, May 13, 2005

Purgatory: Refusing To Wake Up From The Dream

And as if Samir Kassir spoke my mind when he broached the issue of demographic shifts in our country. Just yesterday I was squeezing my brains to make sense of all that is happening back home and this is what I concluded with:

Demography has done what it has done...Maronite Christians have to realize that we are not back in 1972 any longer; things have changed since then and it is unfortunately a sad reality for many. But add 15 years of civil war, then 15 years of Syrian occupation and you'll get around 30 year-period where change has occurred demographically and has marked itself territorially.

Cardinal Sfeir talks of the 15 out of 64 (which Samir Kassir explains that in reality it is 40 out of 64) and that Christians have to vote for Christians and not have their hands tied, as in being accountable, to the non-Christian political leaders who head many of the electoral lists in the country. The reality of the matter is aside from a number of areas, such as Jezzine, Kissirwan, Bsharri, Zgharta, Koura, Northen Matn, and Zahle, Maronite Christian presence has dwindled and this is due to demography as well as other factors. For instance, Haret Hreik in Beirut was a Christian-dominated area (to note that Aoun is originally from there), but the war transformed it into a Shiite-dominated area as the Christians fled to the east and the Shiites fled to the southern suburbs of Beirut from the South due to Israeli belligerency.

...Yes it is a painful reality, but what has happened on the ground has happened and not much can be done about it, unless for example the government promulgates a law that allows for the Lebanese to vote where they live, as opposed to where they originally come from...that might mitigate the situation and allow for a better mix. But again, the point is to move towards a better "mix" of people not a movement towards more "segregation" for which I feel that Cardinal Sfeir is calling and is in my view a step backwards. I understand many of the Christians' frustration, but it is important not to be swayed by sentiment and look at the situation with some logic.

On another note, I wanted to remind everyone how when the late Hariri decided to ally with the Christian opposition right when the electoral law was being debated in Parliament back in January, Franjieh along with many loyalists were ripping Hariri apart and threatening him from joining the forces of the opposition; if you recall, Franjieh called him the "head of the snake."

Fast-forward 4 months and now that we're back on the same subject, Franjieh's (along with many others) hate towards Hariri resurfaces once more. Again, we hear the same talk, that if Sitride Geagea visits Saad Hariri she is "begging" for Parliamentary seats and that it is better to lose Bsharri than to forge an alliance with a Sunni. Again, the same talk...nothing has changed.

Hariri's death has not changed and will not change those poeple. These poeple have withstood deaths and assassinations, have engaged and thrived during and after the war....Hariri's death might have led for the first time to the Lebanese call for change, had made people come out to the streets, have made 1559 a reality as the Syrians left the country in less than a month...but his death is not the magic wand that will change our beloved country's political system.

I'm afraid that after we, as youth, felt that we had some power to make a change, here we're back to the back-burner, back to the purgatory...not hell, but not heaven...a wait and see situation...and just look at our Lebanese blogosphere...silence and confusion, I can deduce, just like I feel, because I've been refusing to wake up from the dream, when we all wore the blue ribbon on our hearts and tied the red and white on our necks. I'm refusing to wake up from the dream, to talk sectarianism, because I am embarassed to.

I will close my ears, shut my eyes...I want a better Lebanon that we can build together.

"Nobody knows how many rebellions, besides political rebellions, ferment in the masses of life which people earth."


Hussein said...

Why do you say that it is painful reality that the demographic lanscape has changed? I wish I could do a forced relocalization of people, so that there are no more "Christian" or "Muslim" areas.

You say that the problem is with the political system. It is not. The problem is in the minds of most Lebanese. The first thing they identify with is their religion (which they inherit from their parents), and then go on to strongly relate to others in their everyday lives, who by no chance, are followers of the same faith. In goodwill, they come to regard interacting with people from other religions as an exciting experience, as a novelty! WOW! It's amazing how limited and mediocre people can be.


Maya said...

Doha, Hussein,
I agree with both of you guys. THe whole situation is so confusing and I wish people were really united just like during the demonstrations. But Hussein is right, the "excitement" or "thrill" of interacting with eachother is gone and so people are back to their old ways. It's pretty sad... I hate when someone asks me "miw wein hadirtik?" just to find out my religeon. Get a life! Know me for who I am, for my values, my personality! Not my religeon or family name. This is the way it should be with politicians too. Religeon is an arbitrary thing that is given to you at birth (whereas in most countries, it is a choice you make as a grown-up). If a Christian born baby was switched with a Muslim born baby at the hospital... no one would ever know! We need to keep religeon where it makes us better people. We need to get rid of it where it divides us... in politics! See my blog entries on the topic.!1pWRK-NpOy2F6n9dOwPUkZaA!751.entry!1pWRK-NpOy2F6n9dOwPUkZaA!788.entry

Raja said...

request to all:

please remain detached while all this squabiling is going on.... watch in a "cold" fashion and try your best to analyze it. These are the political machinations of the elite. they represent us only to the extent that they muscled their way to the top, or inherited their power, and they happen to be from your sect.

I'm not perfect. none of us are. we do get these feelings of affinity. However, the point of democracy is for the politicians to join your team - not visa versa. Don't join any team.

We're outside. Let us take whatever advantage such "distance" gives us, and look at Lebanon in that light.

Anonymous said...

I'm just having Lebanon fatigue lately, and tuning out everything... fatigue I tell Ya!!!

reem said...

Doha, I understand how these demographic changes can cause even more confusion and tensions, but they are a reality. I think they actually lend more sense to the whole political debate at the moment. It's an extra reason pushing for the need to reform...but while you can reform laws and regulations, it's much harder to reform mentalities.
It's really disheartening to see that 3 months after Hariti's death, things are starting to go backwards again...there was an article in the FT recently mentioning that sectarian rifts are showing again (specifcally, christian factions were showing their real colours again after the return of Aoun...)