Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Coexistence vs. the secular society

In light of yesterday's developments, it was almost inevitable that the subject of coexistence vs. the secular society be brought up. Therefore, I have decided to introduce it into this forum.

In my humble opinion there are two main questions that need to be answered:
  • Are you willing dismiss everything you've been raised to believe regarding family and religion, in order to merge with fellow Lebanese from other sects and/or regions and form a homogenous secular community?

  • Irrespective of your personal choices and beliefs, do you think that Lebanese societies will ultimately merge into one big secular society? If not, do you believe that there are enough individuals living in Lebanon today to form what is referred to as the "19th sect"?
    Please keep in mind that sectarianism in its broad sense consists of both religious and "secular sectarian" components. So all you Druze out there, disregard the religious component of the question and focus on the familial/historical components. The same applies to all Lebanese who consider themselves to be non-practicing Christians and Muslims.

    Finally allow me to pose a third question to all those Lebanese individuals who advocate for the creation of a secular community (the 19th sect):
    • The traditional communities in Lebanon have been built upon spiritual and social foundations that stretch back to a millennia and more. The secular community, on the other hand, has no such foundation. It cannot comfort its members spiritually; it cannot provide them with a structured social environment; it cannot offer them the pride that usually accompanies long histories. With all of these handicaps, how can it compete against the other sects and win "converts"?
    I have my own answers - but I will leave them until later... I know this issue is pertinent to most Lebanese who have been educated and subscribe to modern ideals and norms, so I am waiting for your responses.
    My own answer: The "secular community" is not the answer and will never be the answer. I did not leave my community to join another one! I left my community to be my own master... to have my own opinions... to be free of the rules and obligations of any "community" that desires to claim me.... In short, I left my community to be a free individual - to have my own personal space to think, act and feel as I like. The "secular/modern society" can only be truly realized in Lebanon when individuality is realized. The path to what we all seem to seek for Lebanon lies in INDIVIDUALITY.
    Here lies the major challenge that I think we are all acutely aware of (as Lebanese). In the first part of this entry, I suggested that the "secular community" was simply no match against the other more established communities in Lebanon. A great analogy of the secular community facing off against a traditional one could be putting a gorilla and Stephen Hawking in a boxing ring. Now imagine an individual facing off against an entire community! What would that look like? An ant challenging a gorilla?
    I've read several commenters on this blog claim that some Lebanese have managed to create their own individual spaces in Lebanon. This is most likely true. Across Lebanon you are sure to find individuals scattered all over the place, happily living their lives. But the real question to ask is: will there ever be a situation in Lebanon where the majority (or even a significant minority) of Lebanese behave as individuals rather than collectives? I doubt that sort of situation will be realized any time soon.


    Vox P said...

    "Irrespective of your personal choices and beliefs, do you think that Lebanese societies will ultimately merge into one big secular society?"

    Well that is the big question, isn't it?

    "If not, do you believe that there are enough individuals living in Lebanon today to form what is referred to as the "19th sect"?"

    Hey that's mine!

    frencheagle said...

    problem to achieve secularity:

    the heterogeneity of lebanon which is exarcerbating the differences and the notion of group, of community and of religion.

    i guess i lost hope about secularity in lebanon as far as the problem stands in the basement of this country

    acrobat said...

    raja, vox p, fe,
    why limiting our choices to either a secular lebanon or a sectarian lebanon? why aren't we trying to find a whole new notion of nationhood/democracy etc that has not been tried anywhere else in the world - since the density of diversity in this little land is unlike anywhere else in the world? i hate religion, i hate fundamentalism, but i do believe that what gives lebanon its vibrancy is precisely the diversity of the outlooks of its people. are we creative enough to find a new, unique solution to our problems? or are we just sheep who have to fit within some format created somewhere else for other people?


    raja, this is slightly OT, but i would like to know what goes through your mind when you read an article like this:

    (i don't even know if you can read arabic btw)

    does it make you blink at all? or are you so disillusioned these days with everything that whatever the M14 people say you will follow uncritically, clinging to some ideal that isn't necessarily dead but definetely not represented by those chameleons?

    man less than 4 months ago they were praising the "mukawama" now jumblat has changed his mind and they all followed, do you just follow too?

    it is amazing, i have been reading this blog on and off for a year, and watching you slowly but surely adopt a stance exactly the opposite of what you have been preaching (reason over emotion, secular over sectarian, dialogue over antagonism etc). it's really bewildering.

    stop and think man, stop and think. it does not have to be with us or against us, if aoun doesn't float your boat, don't just assume your only other option is that other triumvirate. what would you say if next week they all (probably minus the LF) decide to join the FPM-HA discussion table? where would you stand?

    Anonymous said...

    Please French Eagle spare us your thoughts on how people in lebanon will never be secular.

    Raja, 3rd question first: I dont see why it is either that or the other. We can all maintain our religious beliefs and traditions as long as they are restricted to that: beliefs and traditions. Sadly, in lebanon it is not about that, it is about who is in power.
    There must be a way where politics and religion dont mix, a way in which the "different cultures" maintain their individuality, their houses of worship, their traditions, and their social support systems under a government that has no laws that dictate any of that. Secular means that is a Sunni has the charisma and leadership to be president they should be able to... It doesnt mean that I should restrain from praying on Sunday.

    1st question: i am

    2nd question: Sadly, I am very skeptical about that.

    frencheagle said...

    @ anonymous
    we still see how the dictature of the mind is applied right now in lebanon.
    thinking differently then u seems to be the cause of a real problem for you
    it seems u re hating the diversity of thoughts and through that you re trying to impose a unique view by which of course you do not see the errors you re commiting

    but this is not suprising me since we re living still in this kind of weakenesses among which the communitarism and the sectarism and therefore the divisions lead us to the civil war and not being able to talk with anyone that is different then you

    also we see that u didnt understand that today, no one is afraid to talk, still needing to hide yourself behind your anonynimity? i guess u re the exemple that nothing had changed .


    Raja said...


    Thanks for the article link. I do read Arabic, although I admit, not as well as I'd like to.

    You're right... some of the quotes made my heart blink.

    I am going to write a post on that matter soon.

    Anonymous said...

    Haha Frencheagle... you mean to tell me that you are less anonymous than I am :) I have my own reasons for being anonymous, things that have nothing to do with me being scraed to voice my oppinions and are non of your buisiness

    And the reason I told you to spare us YOUR oppinions is that from your previous comments you seemed to be SUPER-SECTRAIAN. Simply!

    frencheagle said...

    @ anonymous

    yah yah yah

    u re blind of what are the current games in the middle east

    we ll see in few years how u ll become the racist guy as far u didnt see the threat coming and didnt hear the people telling how they were coming and as u re doing right now, u ll blame some other people , "voir" a whole community etc...
    u re stupid this is all what i have to say to judge soooooooooooooo easely people
    and for sure a future "nazi"

    frencheagle said...

    it is the denial of the realities and of the difference that leaded to the development of racism in europe

    when we see here in lebanon u re saying super secterian?

    well it s just that u re not pragmatic and the time ll come when u ll face that lebanon is a closed system unfortunatly where it is not the interest of few politicians to cancel sectarism such as joumblatt that you ll wake and that u can turn after into racism toward people different then you?

    Lazarus said...

    raja -

    is this really why you left lebanon - to have your "own personal space"?

    Raja said...

    Yup! That is definitely one reason Lazarus. One reason.