This is the third post in a series of posts that started as an expression of disappointment at seeing our local paradigms and attitudes dominate Lebanese blogs; the current post is a deleted (long) comment on Raja's post (Does Lebanese History only Repeat Itself? ). You will find it useful to refer to previous comments by Doha and Raja.
I don't mind getting recycled news on a blog or reading it there right after I’ve read it on Naharnet on The Daily Star. What I do mind is getting that news from such few sources, mostly unanalyzed. It is like we have a "mainstream media" for the forces hogging the "March 14" tag. I say "hogging" because they are trying to except Aoun. Anyway I agree that I can give you a better feel of the Lebanese street. But I am starting to think I should dedicate my time to translating quotations from other places, which blogs tend to ignore, such as from editorials in Assafir for example. I will be doing some of that soon. I also have a side note here which is our newspapers. It feels like Assafir and Annahar are published in two different countries. Ironically enough, each has its own standards of patriotism. I am disappointed that we just accept that as the status quo, rather than object to it. This objection is definitely more worthwhile than quoting a news item that any interested reader of English will find on its primary site, especially when the adoption of such an item compromises the integrity of the blog, and this applies to almost every Lebanese blog that deals politics.
On point number 2. Closure issue: In addition to the newspapers, check the people. I live in Hamra but work in Mdawwar and it feels like the ten minute drive to work really beams me to a different country. I have also made a point of walking the slums of Beirut (East, West, and South), and they all look the same. The people on both sides are suffering the same issues, but, like in the war, they blame it on different sides. Have you never heard a service driver say he can’t take you from Sanayeh to Ashrafieh, or the other way round, because it is “the other area.” They still use the wartime word sector “qi6a3”. You may say this is because no people take that line and he won’t find anyone on that route or back. The only significance this argument has is that the frontiers still exist in the people’s minds. I actually heard many “open-minded” people saying they would rather go out “in our areas”, bi-manateqna.
Moreover, I feel that the general atmosphere of "unity" exhibited, albeit verbally, by otherwise-sectarian chiefs allowed the Lebanese to follow them, guilt-free. Many of my university friends, once-distinct voices of the Druze, Sunni, and Maronite communities, were actually declaring that they were now happy with the performance of their respective chiefs and felt well represented. These are the same people who had previously been fighting to stand out against all the conformists of their sects. I was disappointed with them praising their chiefs because I felt it was a need to conform, against their own critical thinking. Then suddenly, mostly with the elections in mind, the chiefs were acting all sectarian, self-centered and short-sighted again. This inconsistency is what blew the chance for real unity. I am not calling for a uniform society. I iconize diversity as much as the next Lebanese. But I do think we need to choreograph our diversity!
As for Saad's incompetence, I really think he has failed to make anything of the great vote of trust that was bestowed on him by the Lebanese people. This is a totally new discussion I would like to postpone, unless this is the portion of point number 2 that you wanted me to elaborate.
As for the "national unity dream," if this really is how you feel, I respect your honesty, and urge you to acknowledge the next logical step: it is now time to sit down and discuss- actually negotiate looks like a better word- how our country should be functioning in order to work out for all of us. If the States is built on opportunity for all, “the American Dream”… let’s compare ourselves with the States, provided we can handle that. This does mean canceling all confessional distinctions in, say, “public jobs.” Yes I want to allow everyone to run for whatever post they want, with their chances being a result of their competence rather than anything else. Human Rights 101. A New Lebanon requires equal rights, and it will definitely mean the abolition of the sectarian system. This is where all those calling for “a modern state” will be expected to make a stand. I leave it to Assaad Abou Khalil to describe those people, but I have heard someone else saying "Masks will fall!"
About the history book, your point is very futuristically viable on its own, but will only hold when the history books are credible rather than full of crap and lies, and when the Lebanese decide they want to be honest with themselves and look to the future. It may help if we stop referring to different histories as our own when we practice politics. It’s also an integrity issue. The next time a politician refers to the French Revolution and how we need Western values, let’s demand that he support the implementation of all those values, including Equality, in the Lebanese system. I remind you of some of the replies LP got when he said this system should empower the Shia in return for letting go of HA weapons. Any relinquishing of the current rights is out of question by many sides in Lebanon. I don’t totally agree with LP’s point, but the counter logic he got is also counter-productive. This sectarian system is feeding on and from sectarian clustering. Many say it’s a matter of interests, not ideals, and should be treated as such. I respect that too, but I ask them not to preach ideals or utopias within a system that they see as geared by interest. In such a system, blame no one for wanting their interest. That would be pure hypocrisy, another bad Lebanese habit we bloggers should avoid.