Saturday, September 12, 2009

So What Is To Follow a Crisis?

A crisis, in any field, is not necessarily an event to be feared.In a sense such a development ought to be welcomed. I say that because I am reminded of the great idiom: “Necessity is the mother of invention”. Can you imagine a group of engineers trying to create a new machine that is designed to perform a task that either does not exist or even a task that current technology is easily capable of supplying for centuries? I cannot. No one will fund such research and very few would be interested in “wasting” precious resources on a problem that requires no solution. That would be similar to inventing a drug first and then go shopping for a disease that it can cure. The same logic is also applicable to the social, political, economic and environmental problems. We often need a crisis and a major one for that matter, in order to question and reevaluate the current conditions that have given birth to the present sad state of affairs.
It was only when the challenge of climate change became so large and so challenging that major commitments to find meaningful solutions to our total dependence on fossil fuels has taken off. In the same token, the need to consider adopting new global financial regulations and reform in the financial sector picked up support only after the “near death” experience of casino capitalism. And last but not least, it was the very poorly underperforming Chinese economy that led Ding Xiaoping to start his reforms that have affected the performance of the whole world economy.
So if a crisis in any field or any country could act as a mechanism to husband resources and seek a meaningful solution to the problem at hand should we then welcome the current political crisis in Lebanon? Yes and no. Yes the current crisis could, in theory, force the two antagonists to come together and find an accommodation that would benefit everyone. That would be the traditional application of the idea that whenever two points of view in any field are at odd with each other eventually the two opposing forces will resolve their differences by creating a new synthesis. That is how history unfolds. This ability to keep moving forward is almost an ironclad guarantee that society will eventually renounce feudalism, discrimination, authoritarian rule and move forward towards the ultimate goal of social harmony and justice for all. To me at least, this is the vision of a society that is grounded in the Cosmopolitan ideas of the Greek Cynics and Roman Stoics; the oneness of humanity.
The above is an ideal utopian vision, one that could ultimately take place. It is often described as the “end of history”. But aren’t we all dead in the long run? as Maynard Keynes said once. Of course we are and that is why it is the moral obligation of each Lebanese citizen to act responsibly, to act as a catalyst that could force the current political leadership to live up to its historical responsibility and resolve the current crisis not by going back to “business as usual” but by adopting a major and radical reform that will serve the welfare of the state for a longtime to come. It should be clear that such reforms must meet some minimum standards chief among them is the total abolishing of political sectarianism, the promotion of responsible citizenship and a society run by the rule of law a society where no one needs fear his/her future because the government will adopt clear working rules that will establish clearly a system of checks and balances, one that considers the welfare of all Lebanese equally irrespective of their religion , place of birth, gender or sexual orientation. This appears as a tall order but in reality it is not if we, the citizens truly want the change. Let us not forget that we are the country and the politicians are only our agents, they work for us and thus we can dismiss them whenever we choose. Let us tell them that we need a Lebanese solution and we need it now. Are we up to the task?

A Podcast of the above has been posted to:

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