“Seeing the tears of a wounded child, the fear on the elderly’s face, or the panic of a young adult at the thought of having to go through all this absurdity all over again… Why does it affect me and not the cold-blooded murders that undertake these crimes? We’ve had enough of these targeted assassinations.
But I care more about the innocent citizens that pay the price, the anonymous civilians who will succumb to their wounds, flee the country or live quietly in sadness and despair hereafter. Today, I think about you and pray for you and hope to help you the best way I can. You are priceless. YOU are Lebanon.”
On Friday, October 19, a huge car bomb ripped through Beirut’s Achrafieh neighborhood, targeting the head of the Internal Security Forces’ Intelligence Branch Wissam Al Hassan. But it also killed eight innocent civilians, injured hundreds more and brought back the dark memories of war to an entire country.
During the past 48 hours, I have thought and rethought, written and erased, shutdown and turned on the computer repeatedly. There is so much to say, yet nothing to say at all. So many reasons to say it, yet no reason to repeat ourselves over and over again. We have watched history repeat itself so many times before and remained idle, powerless, despondent, so why should anything we say now make any difference…
But maybe we should say it, yet again. If only to make sure that we do not let yet another window of opportunity pass without having tried to make something good out of yet another tragedy that hits our country.
So today, we mourn and bow in respect to those who lost their lives. Wissam Al Hassan and his bodyguard died in the line of duty and for that, they should be respected. More importantly, we must remember and honor the innocent civilians that died, whose names we ignore and faces we shall never see. We must also lend a hand to those who lost their houses or whose livelihoods was affected, because it is this solidarity that will bring our country together.
Today, we mourn and grieve for the people lost and for our hope, which slowly fades away. But what about tomorrow?
Tomorrow, we think about after tomorrow, and where we want our country to go from here. We can remain idle, and blame fate for the tragedy of our history or try to make something good out of this tragedy and take destiny into our own hands. We can say that “Lebanon once again pays the price for being Lebanon,” or can say “We will not let Lebanon go through this ever again.”
Some people are already pointing fingers at the Syrian regime and its local allies for last Friday’s explosion and maybe they are right. Al Hassan’s role in the Hariri et al. investigations, Michel Samaha case, and his links to the current anti-Syrian opposition backup the accusations. And why blame them, “waiting for the investigation” to pinpoint the culprit has never provided us with any answers, and has only been a way to avoid the obvious conclusions. But if we stop here, we will be once again tying our fate to something beyond our control and indirectly stating that, whenever the Assad regime collapses, and with it those in Lebanon that support it, all our problems will be solved. The fact is that some of our ills will be solved, but many more will remain.
Therefore, this should lead us to take matters into our own hands. To put external factors aside and look at what we truly have control over to break the vicious cycle of our tragic political history. This means to look at our political system and realize, once and for all, that this system has been the number one culprit of most of our ills. This means to tell our fellow citizens who have supported this rotten political class for years, repeated their empty calls, marched behind their sectarian slogans, died for their selfish causes, that they too are to be blamed for this corrupt system, because without people and supporters, there would be no system.
Friday’s bombing has already led many to increase calls for people to wake up and realize that neither so-called March 14 nor so-called March 8 want to get Lebanon out of its crisis. Why would I, as a Lebanese politician, want to purge Lebanon of a system that keeps me in power? These calls should have started long ago, and these calls should not stop now.
Each time we cry when lives are lost and then gone in vain. Every time we whine at opportunities lost that may never come again. If only for the tears of that wounded child, the fear on that old woman’s wrinkled face or the panic in each of our fired up hearts, boiling with sadness and anger, for having to go through all this absurdity all over again, let us for once, stand up. Let us break the wall of fear, break our fear of the unknown, stand up for what we say we believe in, and say no to them all, starting with our own. Let the Shias say no to Hezballah and Berri because they will not protect you nor your future. Let the Sunnis say no to Hariri and Mikati because they will not protect you nor your future. Let the Christians say no to Aoun and Geagea because they will not protect you nor your future. Let the Druze say no to Jumblatt because he will not protect you nor your future.
We will say no on the streets, in the ballot box and in our everyday life. Refuse their rhetoric, their favors, denounce their corruption. We will not be able to bring back those that died because of their petty wars, but we may aspire that such wars never happen again. If we do not, we will have nobody to blame but ourselves.