Most countries around the world celebrate their “Independence Day” with ecstatic joy. To all of those countries, it is a reminder of their struggle to break free from superpowers that were using their land, their people, their resources…
In Lebanon, November 22nd has become a national mourning day of some sorts. What are the people mourning? The French citizenship that could have been.
What is the notion of Independence and why do many Lebanese find it easy to ridicule the independence of their country? Contrary to popular belief, I feel proud on November 22nd, just as I feel proud about Lebanon any day. My country has grave flaws but regardless of those flaws, it exists.
The reason it’s so hard for many Lebanese to see their country as independent is because the notion of independence is grossly overestimated. No country in the whole world is truly independent from other countries. Example? The USA has a national debt of over $14 trillion, a big chunk of which is to China. Why do you think the US is struggling to fix its national budget nowadays? To fix the economy? Partly yes. But mostly to lessen this national debt and its dependence on other countries, such as China.
The difference between people in the US and Lebanon is that they have national pride that does not waver while we have a national pride as firm as water. The difference between us and them is that, even though they do have poverty and even though some of their States have horrible internet and even though the 3G provided by many of their carriers is not good, they feel proud to call themselves American. How many of us feel proud to call ourselves Lebanese?
You do know that the problems in countries such as the US, France, Switzerland, etc… are very similar to our problems? You have villages in the United States whose only source of livelihood is the production of crystal meth. You have places in France, like Lebanon, where it’s so corrupt that the police doesn’t dare enter. And then you have Switzerland, a country that, despite the great diversity of its people, managed to find a way to get them to coexist.
The problem in Lebanon? Our problems are magnified because of our country’s small size.
Some of us blame our politicians. We say they got us into this predicament. But simply put, our politicians arise from our society – they are inherently part of us. We voted for them and got them where they are today. But our “Independence” day is not our politicians’ to take. It is for all of us as a nation to celebrate: the sacrifices of our forefathers against the French Mandate to establish the Republic of Lebanon.
Others still call for a French (or any other “decent” country) mandate, wishing we were still under one. You know, if our forefathers found the situation under the French to be absolutely peachy and happy, I’m pretty sure they wouldn’t have fought to get Lebanon out of the mandate. Perhaps you should contemplate what all these superpowers are secretly doing in African countries where their influence is much more penetrating, where they still control national resources and lead the people of those countries to kill each other?
At the end of the day, it is hard for many to see Lebanon as independent because we live in a very, very difficult region. I look around and see Syria where Bashar Assad is killing his people left and right. I look to the South and see Israel/Palestine, both of which want a piece of my land as well and both of whom tried to get it as some point. And then I consider all those Arab countries and see that for a small country like mine, I’m sure of utter importance to them. Why is that? Why is it that many countries around the world can’t wait to get their hands on something related to my country? No, it’s not overwhelming pride. It’s an observation. Perhaps because they know that, as divided as we are, it makes it much easier for them to put their hands on our resources, our people and our land?
Our Independence is wasted by none-other than us: the people who let other countries wage their wars on our land. And amid everything that’s happening in the region around us today, perhaps we should be less critical and more vigilant against all of these countries with messed up systems that are ready to move their fights inside our borders.
You don’t want to call it independence, fine. Call it Lebanon’s National Day. But regardless of terminology, you should at least feel a stinge of pride that you have a country and, despite all its problems and the problems thrust upon it, it exists.