The self-extension of the Lebanese Parliament’s term yesterday did not come as a surprise to anybody. It was yet a further nail in the coffin of Lebanon’s democracy, albeit its own special tailor-made brand of consensual, whatever-you-want-to-call-it democracy, where nobody ever goes home a looser.
The self-extension of the Lebanese Parliament’s term yesterday did not come as a surprise to anybody. Busy in preserving their ill-gotten wealth, waiting for regional and international powers to be told what to do is a time-consuming job. Ensuring the sustainability of a system that weakens the state and preserves their positions as indispensable leaders, poisoning communities with corruption and sectarianism, left little time (or interest) to develop a better electoral law that would fit the national interest and hold elections on time.
However, what has and continues to come as an ever-growing surprise is what the Lebanese people are doing and what they are not doing about this.
What we do is complain, what we don’t do is do anything about it.
What we do is blame the system, what we don’t do is see how we can contribute in changing it.
What we do is blame sectarianism, yet promote it with our words and deeds in our daily lives.
What we do is dismiss any action to express our anger towards politicians (such as taking to the streets) as futile, what we don’t do is stop supporting them, continuing to get into fights with our friends over them, and voting for them, believing they are the only alternatives we have.
What we do is mock our Arab neighbors for their revolutions and the results they have produced, yet what we are not doing is taking our own first step towards change, in denial that “a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”
We are a people with talent, yet waste it on making a name for yourselves with our rooftops bars and Guinness records.
We are a people with vision, yet it is always our vision that has no future.
We are a people of courage, yet bow to our petty sectarian fears and affiliations.
We are a people who have a voice, yet consciously allow it to be silenced, trampled upon and mutilated, making you wonder whether we truly deserve this voice and deserve the viciousness of our fate.
There is a revolution going on in Lebanon, in virtual Lebanon, with likes, shares and retweets. But how will this ever be translated into the real world. People have become self-sedated, apathetic, convinced that change happens in the movies, revolutions happen in other countries and that someone else will fight on their behalf to achieve their most basic national aspirations. But that isn’t the way things work.
I have taken to the streets, shouted at the top of my lungs, truly believing that I, along with thousands of others, could make a difference and could make our voices heard. Major change didn’t happen because we become easily bored, wanting our one-shot demonstrations to result in immediate rewards but they don’t. Change didn’t happen because we resigned ourselves, yet again, to the fact that nothing will ever change. Change didn’t happen because we didn’t fight for it hard enough, to tell our politicians, members of parliament, sectarian leaders, religious leaders and anybody in Lebanon and abroad who has any interest in the status quo or part of it, that we have had enough. And given our inaction, why would they really believe otherwise?
I do not believe we can say this enough:
It is time to Occupy, to protest, to shout and act, as Lebanese, not as Christians or Muslims, nor as March 14 or March 8.
It is time to dismantle our fear of change, and translate our disgust of our democracy of sectarian dictatorships into change, refusing complete disrespect of our democracy by postponing elections, no matter how flawed our democracy may be.
It is time to stop finding excuse for our sorry selves and pathetic state of affairs, think about the absurdity of our past and hopelessness of our future if we remain as we are today, if we shout today and go about our business tomorrow as if everything were never better.
Yesterday, only a handful of people went down to parliament to express their anger at parliament’s arrogant disregard for the rule of law and for our intelligence. A feed up Lebanese citizen decided to put up a tent in front of Parliament, becoming a symbol of a population that has had enough and a symbol of a minority that truly has the courage and the motivation to fight for what it believes in. But a silent majority is worth nothing and a vocal minority can start change but not sustain it.
This tent was brought down, the man arrested and later released. If our MPs were afraid of one tent, what would happen if we all stood in their midst?