As I followed my friend’s tweets on what he was going through in Tahrir Square in Egypt, today, I couldn’t help but feel proud to be Lebanese – at least for today.
I’m not going to start embellishing the life we lead in Lebanon for the sake of impressing a reader that might stumble on my blog. But today has proven the vital importance of something we’ve come to take for granted – at least in the last six years. Our freedom of speech.
We have gotten accustomed to saying anything that comes to our mind that we don’t really think about those who cannot do so.
Look at what happened in Egypt today… the government cracked down on those who tried to defy it. A bloodbath ensued in Tahrir Square.
Can you imagine what would have happened if the government cracked down on those that tried to topple it in 2006? They protested and had a two-year long sit in. And no blood was shed because of the protest directly.
Even more so, can you imagine what would have happened if March 14, which is very similar to what happened yesterday, on February 1st, in Egypt, was followed by a similar crackdown by the authorities to the one that took place in Egypt today?
So for all matters and purposes, I am proud to be Lebanese today. I am proud to be able to decide on a cold Wednesday in February to protest against the government and expect no one to beat me up in return. I am proud that I can support causes that most people frown upon and still expect nothing to happen to me. I am proud that I can criticize most top politicians in my country and be able to sleep soundly at night. I am proud to be from the country that is lightyears ahead of the whole region in everything that counts.
So do remember from time to time that there are things more important than super-fast internet, a booming economy and a fragile political peace… sometimes, being free is what matters the most.
Well you do have a point..
But i have another approach on this;
I believe the Lebanese politicians have abused our right to free speech, and their “so-called” democratic elections..
We have reached a point that not only we are disappointed in our politicians, but we are also disappointed in our choices we took since 2005..
Many of my friends and relatives feel simply “indifferent” towards all what’s happening in Lebanon and the region.. they are just tired of history repeating itself with the same mistakes, again and again..
We’re always on the edge, that’s not what I call freedom
You can look at it that way but that’s not the point I was making.
Part of our freedom of speech is that you can not vote in elections, or vote and have a pretty firm stance. Either way, you can make sure you get your voice heard.
Sure, we are all pissed at the situation… we all want things to improve and we are all frustrated by the way our politicians handle the situation.
But that would be material for a totally different post.
For this one, let’s just relish that you can actually post a comment like the one you just posted and, in a few hours, go to bed, sleep calmly and tomorrow have no one knock on your door to arrest you.
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I’m glad you feel free, wheras I feel like I’m bound to the rules of a ridiculous game that I can’t escape, and I was never a player in. I’m told to play by its ridiculous rules or face the anger of the organized religious mafias who tell you what you can and can’t talk about.
Sure I can speak out and not be arrested, It’s all fun and games when those tv shows mock party leaders. I guess I can always speak out against hizbullah’s weapons or the tribunal. No problem there… I mean it’s a fucking game so pick a color right? And a lot of people have already. But if I ever decide to invoke any REAL change in Lebanon, on my electricity, water, telephone, gas bills. On the food prices, on the overall cost of living, here’s where I might piss off some of the mafias who take cutbacks and report to our government officials.
I could probably speak out about that too I guess right? A lot of people have. But really what’s the point of speaking out if my vote means absolutely nothing at all. If every independant candidate who runs for election in our ridiculous election law with a real platform of reform, who wants to change the rules of the game and refuses to buy into the mafia “you scratch my back…” rhetoric, is either bought off or threatened and quits the process.
The game is designed for you to feel free my friend. Just forgive me if I don’t share your sentiment. And please don’t argue that relatively we have freedom compared to other arab countries, what, you want to set your standards of freedom compared to monarchies and failing dictatorships? Please! Ask those people moving their families out of lebanon and sacrificing years of their lives to get foreign passports if they feel free here. So no I don’t feel lucky.
The people that are leaving are doing so for economic reasons, etc…
Those are important too. And I’m just making an observation that, compared to everything in our region, we have this little thing that makes us shine.
Call it wishful thinking, but sometimes, you have to look positively at things.
Agreeed! We are so lucky for so many different reasons I’ve realized over the course of the last few weeks.
Thank you for commenting 🙂
i admire how you look at the bright side. very few seem to realize what a beautiful country we have. keep it up
Thank you for dropping by!
I’m glad you liked the post 🙂
And yeah, sometimes wishful thinking and gratefulness is precisely what we need to move this country forward.