I am not one who cries easily, but seeing with my own eyes, how a mixture of army, police, riot police and the thugs protecting the Parliament, hit young men and women protesting in front of Parliament earlier today, made me tremble uncontrollably and brought me to tears.
It has been a busy week for those trying to make a change in Lebanon. On Saturday, June 15, 2013 a group of 67 Lebanese issued an open invitation to attend the National Rescue Conference, to kick-start a genuine reform movement to rescue Lebanon from the depths of its misery. Spearheaded by Former Labor Minister Charbel Nahas, the grouping expects to organize workshops to engage as many as possible in its discussions on priorities for change and most effect ways to put them into practice. I have never accepted to adhere to any political party because I don’t believe any such thing has ever existed in Lebanon (with very few exceptions). Neither have I allowed myself to rally around any political figure, because I have found none to be a true leader that believes in the country in itself and not as a means for his own enrichment. And I have more often than not been let down by movements of recent years, which start as genuine engines for change, only to become yet another Facebook page of hopelessness and broken dreams. But in face of no other viable solution and the prospects of having the history of war repeat itself in front of our eyes, we have nothing to lose for giving this new initiative a chance and everything to regret for not trying. “Initiative is a duty and change is possible,” the organizers reiterate.
While today, brave and committed Lebanese took it upon themselves to protest against Parliament’s self-extension, remind MPs that at midnight, their term expires and had thus become unlawful representatives, and that the people wouldn’t leave them alone until the next elections. At the outset, there was understandable rage at the illogical and violent way law enforcement handled those attempting to peacefully approach parliament and exercise their right to express their refusal of parliament’s extension. People were angered that the army and police were pitted against them, instead of deploying en masse to deal with those who truly endangered stability, peace and security across Lebanon. Later in the evening, the atmosphere was one of song and dance and of some hope that this time, civil society will keep pushing for the change it seeks. By being at Riad al Solh Square – the closest violent law enforcement allowed demonstrators to reach Parliament- people displayed their thirst for change and willingness to fight for it. Law enforcement agents faced peaceful demonstrators with violence and contempt, some must have been convinced of what they were doing, others certainly not so sure their role was to protect their corrupt politicians against young Lebanese armed with nothing but their hopelessness and anger, smart phones and slogans, their hopes and dreams. “You cowards, hitting young men and women!” one demonstrator shouted at them. Keeping this momentum going will be the only way to show our commitment to change. Why can others do this, elsewhere in the world, and not us?
To all others:
There are those who do not realize the need for change in Lebanon, I feel sorry for you.
There are those who do not want to change the way things are, you shall be judged as attempted murders of an entire nation and its people.
There are those who do not think it is their job to bring about change, you do not deserve this country.
There are those who think they cannot bring about change, do not underestimate your role as a citizen.
There are those who believe in change but may not have the energy nor time to make it happen, do not stand in the way of those who want to try.
There are those who complain that nothing ever changes, haven’t you ever thought that it may just be you standing in the way of change?
There are those who believe today isn’t a good time for change, yet the deteriorating situation only proves the pressing need for it.
Common sense tells me staying in Lebanon is madness, my heart doesn’t let me even think about being anywhere else. But the time for change is long overdue.