Monday, December 24, 2007

Lebanon Is The Loser, No Matter Who Wins

What appears to be unlikely now will soon occur: Lebanon will have a new president. What is tragic is that one of the two major camps will behave as the victor when in reality no matter which of the two sides wins Lebanon has already lost. One side is determined to bring back the old status quo—as if that era was a Golden Age when in reality it was what gave rise to the current social, political and economic problems—while the other side is driven by even more backward-looking ideologies that will only strengthen confessionalism and religious identity, both of which are the bane of the Lebanese retrogression.
No country can celebrate its diversity through constructing barriers that separate, discriminate and forbid talent to rise. No country can claim to promote individual liberty and human rights when its citizens are not subjected to the same sets of laws. How can the same people who decry racism, social injustice and inequality support vigorously a system based on religious practice; the epitome of inequality and discrimination? As if it is not bad enough for one side to have given Bkirki the right to appoint a President the other side claims to be fighting for the rights of the “aggrieved” Christian and one of its spoke persons went even as far as to claim that the “West looks at the Christians in terms of their relative numbers instead of their intrinsic worth”. Where is the outrage when such statements are made? Is the FPM really suggesting that they espouse an Orwellian democracy where society promotes equality but some are more equal than others? Is the Christian equal to two non Christians or is it maybe 21/2 non Christians in the FPM calculus. (This Maronite has only one expectation from his elected officials, to be vigorous in their defense of Lebanese sovereignty and individual rights even though they might profess the Moslem , Druze or Christian faith or maybe have no faith at all).
Lebanon has a golden opportunity to embark immediately on the only path to modernity, democracy and individual rights. It is time that we renounce the chains that have shackled us for over six decades. A Nation State does not need to exist if its own permanent residents do not share a political identity that transcends their individual beliefs and selfish desires. Unless we build a strong wall that separates the sacred from the secular then we are condemned to repeat the mistakes of the past. No religious group needs worry about its rights under a secular state because ALL people are treated equally and All people are given the same opportunities to rise to the highest level of their abilities. The best guarantees for a Christian, a Moslem or an Atheist is equal protection under the law that does not make any allowances to ones personal religious beliefs. In the same sense that equality before the law should not be based on race, national origin, religious convictions, gender or sexual orientation elective office should not be based on anything else but the nominees character, political program and her commitment to the national good. Elective office, in the final analysis, is public service and as such no one should be prevented from becoming public servant except on meritorious grounds. Anything short of that is tragic and unacceptable.

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