A Middle Eastern Revolution Overdose?

Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Yemen, Bahrain, Algeria… and now people wanting to overthrow the system in Lebanon. I find myself wondering if it’s getting way out hand – if people are suddenly beginning to take advantage of this surge in regional adrenaline.

Do we really need to march down and demonstrate to overthrow the system in Lebanon? Is it really the best option we’ve got?

We are the only country in the region that actually has a democracy that functions – regardless of whether you think it functions properly or not, we can still vote, get our voices heard and be able to do marches like the one planned today. Sure, we have many shortcomings but I believe they dwarf in comparison to what the people of Egypt, Tunisia had to go through to get where we were in the 1940s, let alone what the people of Libya are going through as we speak.

To change the system in Lebanon, I don’t believe you need a revolution. I think you need common sense, one that is easily blinded when excitement surges among the people. Look at it this way: say the planned “revolution” succeeds and a secular state is enforced, do you honestly think that will happen without changing the basic foundation upon which the state is built? And by that I mean democracy. Do you really think shoving down secularism down people’s throats would get you further?

The people of Lebanon are not secular people because that is not how they were brought up. To move towards a secular state, you need to have a secular mind – one that is only present in a handful of people currently. And I don’t think the current political atmosphere in the country warrants further upheaval.

The best way, in my opinion, to have a peaceful and logical transition into a secular state is via a major overhaul of the education system. You cannot keep on teaching the same things being taught dealing with the way the country is run and still believe a secular state is plausible. People need to be taught on embracing the different other in a more hands-on approach, people need to be exposed more to the other’s religion and we need to at least have a version of our history that does not stop when the French Army vacated its barracks in 1946. By having an education system that invites people to become more aware of the different other, perhaps we can start moving our minds towards becoming truly secular and understanding that if I, a Maronite, do not have the presidency written for my sect, that’s okay. Or if you, a Shiite, don’t necessarily get the speaker of parliament, that’s okay as well. Same thing applies for the Sunnis and all the other sects.

Moving towards a secular Lebanon is a very hard thing to accomplish. The movement towards that should be transitory and not blunt. It should be accepted and not forced. Therefore, uniting Lebanon starts by letting the people of Lebanon share their ideas and come to common grounds with those ideas. Uniting Lebanon does not come by having one idea forced upon everyone. That would be basically a dictatorship.

On a final note, I invite people not to fall into the misconception that atheism is synonymic to secularism. It has become a common belief among many in Lebanon that the two are inherently related. That is far from the case. I also hope that we appreciate what we’ve got in our country and not take it for granted. We are still the only democracy in the region and it’ll take the countries that have had recent revolutions years to get to where we are today – regardless of what you might think lacks in our democracy. Is a revolution an answer? I don’t think so. Do we need to move towards a secular state? I believe it’s a necessity. How? Let’s just say, don’t get carried away by political excitement.

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16 thoughts on “A Middle Eastern Revolution Overdose?

  1. Elie, i’m with you 100000%
    Other than the education system, i also believe that some families should change the way they raise their children too..
    Why would we have to see a 12 year old having a strong stubborn arguments regarding his “Sunni”, “Shiite”, or “maronite” so-called rights?
    This realistic article would explain my point better, i’ve been sharing it and sharing it, and no one is getting what i mean..
    http://ht.ly/44dZV

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    • I was going to mention the importance of family as well because I think that’s as vital as a comprehensive education system. The child goes back home and if the only stuff he hears are about how horrible the “other sect” is, we will never get forward. But I can’t see a way to change the mentality of adults. Any ideas?
      And interesting article 🙂 I agree with it!

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  2. Well, negatively speaking i dont think there is a solution for such adults…
    they are everywhere from every sect… and they are the most stubborn people you could ever meet, they don’t listen, and if they do listen, they will certainly not broaden their horizons about such ideas..
    All we have is workshops on “how to be a better leader”, “how to be a better public seaker” and bla bla bla.. Why dont we organize Workshops on “how to be a better listener”?
    just a thought.. feel free to elaborate it in another post of your own, and i insist!! 😉

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  3. I believe it’s a very good thing you mentioned the difference between secularism & atheism. Many people tend to refer to them as the same thing. However, I also believe that the point of today’s gathering was not actually a call to a revolution. IMO, it was more of a ‘brainstorming session’. I think that people in Lebanon (the educated ones) realize that no revolution could work without a planned alternative to be set afterwards. I am 1000000000% for a secular country & I would demonstrate for it. But has anyone planned any secular regime yet? One we can all agree on? This is why IMO today’s gathering was more of a brainstorming session. I did not attend however. I mean, have you not seen the weather?
    Kudos for the article. Very inspiring 🙂

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    • I’m not too sure about the “brainstorming” part of it. Sure, the weather sucked. But from what I’ve seen from the people wanting to demonstrate today, this was more than their attempt at to brainstorm. It was more on the revolution side. Trust me with this, I was added to the demonstration group on facebook (btw, this adding people to groups without their consent is not too good) and all the talk there was about a revolution to topple the system.

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      • I just finished seeing the photos & comments about the event. It’s a Good thing I did not attend lol. I would’ve been an outcast. The last thing we need now is a revolution. I thought they were going to take the high road & think the whole issue out & come up w/ alternatives, not just shout & cry for a revolution. If we want to be a good example of a revolution, this is NOT the way to do it.
        So again, KUDOS for the article lol.

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        • I didn’t check out anything related to the march yet. I’m thinking about posting this in their group but I think I’ll do a fake facebook account for that :p But yeah, it was a “revolution”. SMH.
          And thanks again 😀

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  4. I did not say anything about families, because I think that this is an issue that doesn’t have a solution yet. A proper one that is 🙂

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  5. I love the post, to start off with. You made very valid, and very strong, points. I see what you mean when you talk about an education overhaul, and renewal. This is something we have been talking about for years, but sadly it goes unheard.

    Lebanon is the last place in the Middle East that needs a revolution right now, especially one which denounces the system as a whole.

    But in Lebanon, we have grown accustomed to hoping for change, waiting for a transition that seems to never come our way. I supported #uniteLB for one reason, to show the government or people in charge, that we want it now…wake up and do something about it. I feel like we keep getting ignored, we keep getting shut down, and without the people making any move, ignoring us will continue to happen.

    I disagree in calling it a revolution, I would have preferred people call it a “march” and to just leave it at that. But lets be honest, with what is happening in Lebanon now, a transition and active movement to get Lebanon on the track of secularism is needed! Look at the situation now… mass exodus of Christians, tension between Sunnis and Shiites, and the constant claims of being ignored by the Orthodox sect, I think drastic actions must be taken, for the sake of our nation.

    With all that said, I understand why people didnt support #UniteLB with much enthusiasm… it seemed a little far-fetched to have something like that can make any change in the nation. Its a long process, but hey, if Turkey did it overnight, what’s stopping Lebanon? UniteLB focused on the system and the leaders who gain from having a system like this… what makes our leaders different than Mubarak? Nothing really.

    Lets wait and see what the Lebanese government is going to do about it now. Hopefully they do something, and as they say in Lebanon: byi3a2lo w ma bya3emlo khoutan.

    Also, and finally, thanks for talking about secularism and atheism. Many people dont see a difference, sadly, when there is a huge difference between the two! Remember the discussion on titter we all had once about secularism? Thats what we need now…discussion and dialogue.

    Great post!

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    • First, thank you for commenting Ali!
      As I said, we desperately need a major change to the education system – and we need to demand it more. But among what’s going on in the country currently, change to the education system looks like the last thing on people’s minds. There are more pressing issues – but I believe this is the most pressing issue of them all. By having a decent education system, everything else ultimately gets resolved.

      Regardless of whether we get accustomed to the status quo or not in Lebanon, and I think we are the least people in the region to do that, I agree with you that a revolution to change everything is not the answer. You need a gradual transition. You gave Turkey as an example. I don’t think Turkey is representative of us. First, Turkey does not have as much religious diversity as Lebanon does. Second, Turkey is slipping bit by bit back from Secularism. Sure, it’ll take a lot of time for it to completely deteriorate but the way things are going, it looks likely.

      I support the #UniteLB initiative as a concept. We need to unite and show the whole world that, despite our differences, we are one front. But with the #Feb27 movement, I believe the movement was kinda taken out of concept. Sure, we need to shake our government. But we kinda don’t have a government now to shake. How about they wait till the situation relaxes a little and then they can have the march? It’s not like you need the ride the adrenaline wave to protest in Lebanon. You can do that almost whenever you want!

      Again, thanks for dropping by and I appreciate your comment 🙂

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