» My dream for a new a Lebanon, where sectarianism would not supersede the interests of the state, disappeared. I realized that if war continued, I only had my community and my za’im to protect me. The army was impotent, the government were helpless, and I had lost all faith in the very state institutions I had so vehemently defended up until this moment. On this unforgettable night, I placed aside everything that I knew to be right and contemplated my capacity to kill.
Thankfully, the answer to that daunting question was left unanswered, as news came that the attack was called off and an agreement had been reached. But if the attackers had come to my home, what would I have done? Would I have picked up a pistol and shot? This point of cognitive dissidence will undoubtedly haunt us for a long time. To think that I may have picked up arms reveals the desperation I felt, left alone and unprotected by the state, selfishly hoping that army’s call to disarm the mountain would fail. To think that night, for that one moment, I was willing to exchange so thoughtlessly my humanity and aspirations of reform for a weapon.
My transformation is a chilling prospect. It embodies the exact repulsion that will inevitably resurface with the passing of time and our willingness to forget. That night I found my self standing up for my co-religionists, my sect, before the interests of a collective people. I found myself with the exact obtuse mentality I was disgusted with when I first arrived. I found myself consumed by dissent for this country, enraged that it had forced me to become a product of hate.
Now I ask myself: where do I go from here? I can only hope this question is being asked by each and every citizen of this country. However, I fear it is not. The often celebrated Lebanese spirit – one that is credited for its persistency to endure difficult circumstances and is known to keep on living even in the face of uncertainty – seems to be no more than a façade. To believe such fallacies will only prove to disappoint, as to praise our misgivings to be an act of courage and resiliency only perpetuates a superficial and a defeatist truth.
The silent majority who want change and a life free of conflict, no longer dependant on communal nepotism, remain mute and unwilling to take action against our crooked political dynasty. For this reason, Lebanon’s potential to prosper looks grim and difficult at best. For this reason, I have begun to lose faith in my homeland. Disappointment shrouds my thoughts; not of the oft-blamed politicians but of the people of this country. Instead of speaking out against our misfortune, we have accepted it as an unchangeable truth, a necessary tax on our love for this country.
Lebanon has lived a lie for too long, marked by apathy amongst the majority of the population and a devious willingness by the minority in power to manipulate our trust. Without standing up and demanding reform and expecting accountability and responsibility in governance our freedom from violence will be short lived. Without recognizing that a state away from sectarianism offers our best hope for mutual security, people in Lebanon will increasingly be faced with same dilemma I experienced this week: either pick up arms and fight or escape this reality by leaving the country. When the safety of latest agreement erodes and this decision presents itself again, remember my plea for action, because it will be too late to blame anyone but yourself.
Rabeh Ghadban »