Friday, February 10, 2006

Suffocating Individuals

I see no room for the individual in Lebanon. The different communities are antagonistic towards each other, but I believe that their ire is mainly directed towards The Individual.

Most people claim that Lebanese leave Lebanon because of economic reasons. I doubt that that is the complete truth.

People also leave Lebanon because of social reasons - primarily among those, is the desire to escape from the suffocating grip of their families and communities. They seek to live life as free individuals.

So the immediate question to answer is: can an individual live in Lebanon today? If yes, I'd like to know how. If not, then I'd also like to know what can be done to change the situation.

18 comments:

Ms Levantine said...

I am not a scholar, but from my PoliSci 1 class I remember that traditional societies are based on religious/ethnic groups and clans, while modern societies are based on the Individual. Many of us dream of Lebanon as a modern society, if only for the selfish reason that it will be easier for us to fit in it. If we band together we might achieve something.

Raja said...

If we band together won't we become just another group/clan?

Lazarus said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
ghassan said...

Raja,
A primary dictum of economics states that"There Ain't No Such Thing As A Free Lunch". There is a price for everything in life including a free spirit. One cannot be a nonconformist and yet worry about what the mainstream is going to think of his/her non conformism!!!! If one does then one is NOT a nonconformist lol.
Of course you can be a nonconformist in Lebanon, I have known many of them. Are there many nonconformists is a different question? Let me add to what Ms. Lev gave as an explanation for a nonmdynamic social structure the fact that our socities are NOT characterized by lots of mobility. Immobility leads to social stratification and noncreative solutions (that is why we call such socities traditional:-))

Ms Levantine said...

Raja, you have a point: Band together is the wrong choice of words. And as my (other) uncle Groucho used to say: I would not want to be part of a band that accepts me as a member. How about working, getting organized, cooperating instead? I also agree with ghassan, but here we have to find out if we are talking about a few marginal elements, or if there is really a strong desire for change and for individual freedom in the population at large. In both cases there will be no free lunches.

Vox Populi - Agent Provocateur said...

"I see no room for the individual in Lebanon. The different communities are antagonistic towards each other, but I believe that their ire is mainly directed towards The Individual."

That is so true. I totally approve you.

Vox Populi - Agent Provocateur said...

"People also leave Lebanon because of social reasons - primarily among those, is the desire to escape from the suffocating grip of their families and communities. They seek to live life as free individuals."

Man you're reading my mind. I left Lebanon because you can't make a decent living there, but also because of the 'small town' mentality. I need to be free on a social point of view, not only on a political point of view.

frencheagle said...

when u re from school learning to obey to the religious autority, bcz u re in a religious school how can u then become an individual by yourself.

the problem starts from childhood

and it s not about community, it s about education

Charles Malik said...

Raja and the rest,

I've got to disagree. There is a lot of room for individualism.

Sadly, few people are willing to take the risk and suffer the consequences of becoming an individual. It requires severing yourself from your family, which means you need a strong will and some financial backing.

The problem is that for every Haifa there is some poor girl who gets mistreated and abused because she is no longer a member of her father's household.

fadibou said...

I have to agree with you, social reasons for leaving Lebanon are as big as the economical reasons. The main reason remains us. We don't fight enough to change so we leave.

JoseyWales said...

Isn't it true that things are changing, very slowly but surely. For women, inter-religious marriages, artists, etc...all of which chip away at group-think and group control?


Ms Lev, Uncle Groucho's a wise man (unlike Uncle Karlo).

Doha said...

I think there is room for individualism if one has an optimistic view of life. Unfortunately, sometimes this optimism is quickly crushed when one is faced with the vulgarities of traditionalism and sectarianism in Lebanon.

There is almost a criteria for those who decide to be individuals and choose to live in Lebanon: you need to be financially sound, getting a source of income independent of the family, because at the heart of it, the family sets the "rules of the game", when it comes to every social aspect. And also many first leave the country to solidify this individualism and then return home setting their rules of the game.

This is the criteria my parents followed; if it wasn't for it, we would not have at one point lived in Broummana, where we went to school, though we come from Tripoli. The family kept on asking us how we're "surviving" in Broummana...funny, isn't it? We were only one hour away by car, but to our family, it felt like days. But if my parents did not live abroad and decided to raise us as a "nuclear" family, I guess they would not have been able to see that in reality the divisions the Lebanese create are petty and meaningless at best.

I love our traditions...it's good to take the best of them and keep them alive.

ghassan said...

Doha
So you and Emile Lahoud have an educational bond in common. How would BHS ever be able to eliminate the Lahoud stigma on its otherwise illustrious history?

why-discuss said...

Lebanon is a suffocating society, fed with gossips and narcissic exhibition of wealth. Yet, it is a country that has glamour, a hedonistic dolce vita, and a religious tolerance that no arab country has.

Raja said...

I believe that a more accurate description would be that Lebanon is composed of suffocating societies. The other characteristics you articulate are on the mark... and with the exception of the last, quite annoying.

AbdulKarim said...

I am afraid of returning back to Lebanon because of the small town mentality. I don't want to live in a city where I have to worry about what others would think in every single thing I do. Lebanon is a big prison.

Doha said...

ghassan, i didn't graduate from BHS, just did a year there; i graduated from the Choueifat school...now you're going to tell me that i have a bond with some other "loser" politician! what can we do; Lebanon is a tiny place.

why-discuss said...

Raja, you may not like the characteristics of "hedonistic dolce vita and glamour" but this is how Lebanon is perceived by the Arab and Western countries. Ask anybody!