A Few Words From an Angry Maronite

[Notice] For those who think talking about one’s sect is sectarian, this post is not for you. For everyone else, proceed with caution. 

Today, February 9th, marks the memory of the founder of the Maronite Church: St. Maroun. Most Maronites would start exhibiting pride in their heritage on (and leading up to) this day. I’m fairly certain if you look at your Facebook news feed at this very moment, you’ll find about five or six friends sharing pictures of St. Maroun.

Of course, Maronites have every right to be proud of their heritage. They have simply withstood so much in the rough mountains of Lebanon, they have fought for Lebanon like possibly no other sect has done and they have the greatest hand in the founding of the state of Lebanon. I’d give historical proof here but I don’t think that’s necessary.

Among all the Lebanese sects, the only sect that kept believing in the idea of “Lebanon” throughout the years was the Maronite sect. And for that, as a Lebanese nationalist, I am proud.

But today, as I write this, I cannot but feel angry at Maronites: church, politicians and people.

The land:

I’m angry because the people are selling our land to whoever, however, whichever and for whatever reasons. I get infuriated when I hear that most of the land in certain villages has been sold to foreigners, regardless of the sect of those foreigners. It pisses me off that nobody seems to care about this as well. We actually care more about valet parking fights and useless comedy skits than about our own land. And that is very sad. It angers me that some of our politicians are among the people selling their land, as if they needed the money. You know, the monthly payment they get for life for being voted into office isn’t enough for expenditures. I’m angry because our church keeps preaching about not selling the land but does nothing with the wide resources it has about it. I’m angry because our grasp on our country is lessening not because of outsiders but because we, as insiders, are weak and easily tempted by everything materialistic that you don’t necessarily need.

Persecution:

I’m angry that the Maronite community is panicking regarding what’s happening in the region while they have no reason to be this afraid. Cautious, perhaps. But panic? Definitely not. I’m angry that certain politicians fuel this panic to serve their agenda. It angers me that the Maronite church is not doing anything to lessen this. On the contrary, it’s preaching that we should be afraid for our heads. Why should we afraid? What worse can happen to us as a community after the fragmentation we had to endure for over fifteen years because of the Syrians and because of our internal differences? What could be worse than to be constantly afraid because of something that is not threatening you directly? What could be more debilitating that to constantly live in fear?

Let me answer that for you. Nothing. And yet we live in fear. We are constantly worried that our thirty parliament seats will be taken away from us, that the president will no longer, someday, be forced by law to be a Maronite, that our homes will be ripped off from under our feet and that we’ll be shipped off to Canada or some other Western country that would accept us.

Politics is cyclical. Maronites had their reign, the Sunnis had their reign, the Shiites are having their reign. And the cycle will turn, however vicious it may be. I’m angry that we didn’t learn from our mistakes when we were in power and we will probably repeat them when we find power again.

The Politics:

I’m angry that our politicians cannot agree on anything regarding our community, regardless of who they are. We vote for them, we put our trust in them and yet nothing happens. And then we vote for the same people again because the alternative makes us rightfully cringe, regardless of where you fall on the cringing spectrum. We cannot agree on an electoral law that would serve our best interests. We cannot agree on managerial appointments that we are “entitled” to in order to run the country. We cannot agree about a grand scheme that we believe the country should be heading to. What we can agree upon is that each politician is living in the delusion of being the representative of Maronites when, at the end of the day, we are as fragmented, as divided, as weak and as paranoid as we’ve always been and we can also agree that the state of our politics is disheartening, miserable and dishonest.

The Grandeur:

I’m angry that we, as Maronites, have a false sense of grandeur about us – of the sort “Alla khala2na w kasar l aleb.” Modesty goes out the window when we’re discussing our sect, even without practicing it. Who, among you, actually goes to church every Sunday? Not many, I suppose, including me. Who, among you, actually knows something more about St. Maroun apart from the fact that we get a day off on February 9th because of him? Not many, I suppose, including me (unless what I read on Wikipedia can be considered valid). Who feels proud that they are Maronite just because of the “perks” it entitles you? Many people, I suppose. Who feels proud to be a Maronite just because it makes you not “them”? Many people, I’m sure. Who feels proud to be a Maronite just because…? Many people as well.

I guess I have many reasons to be angry, as a Maronite, as a Lebanese, as a resident of a certain caza, of a certain town. I am a Lebanese angry about many things in my country, especially Maronites because we keep messing things up. And the worst part is? We take pride in messing things up.

Yen3ad 3leikon jami3an w 3a2bel kell sene.

PS: I made this post not detailed on purpose, so an element of vagueness remains to it; thus, making it applicable to everyone, regardless of political affiliation.

6 thoughts on “A Few Words From an Angry Maronite

  1. I am very impressed Elie!! I did not think you would be writing these words with such an independent state of mind!!! I enjoyed reading the article and I totally agree with you. I hope one day all Lebanese will think the same way.
    .

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  2. well written elie.
    can i put this thought forward: can what you wrote be applied to other sects too? (maybe not all the points, but im sure they all have some)

    im a greek catholic, and i guess in this country, we stand helpless!

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  3. I agree with hisamad. This applies to every sect to some degree or another. But I still have a few points:

    1) We shouldn’t really ever think to thank a certain sect for what amazing things it has done for Lebanon. Simply, we can talk history all we want but history is subjective for one and two talking in those terms is in a way saying well all other sects haven’t really done much for Lebanon/don’t care for Lebanon as much or whatever else. It creates an unnecessary division and creates a sense of entitlement for someone who is Maronite. Maybe this even contributes to how some people feel about Lebanon.. mind you, I’ve never met a Lebanese who is not VERY proud of being Lebanese but maybe this perception that Maronites are the reason why Lebanon even exists makes other sects feel left out? A theory. I personally don’t care to dwell on these details. I’m proud and will fight for Lebanon just like anyone else Maronite or not. W akhir hami, my so-called sect.

    2) Politics is our death and is directly linked to one. Even if one party believed in Lebanon oh-so-much… there was a cost associated to it which in turn makes this belief almost null because simply what’s the use?

    3) Selling land. Yes, a terrible thing on the whole. BUT a) I don;t think its the little farmer villager up in x-village selling to someone who is an equal to him financially thats selling Lebanon out. I don’t even think those sales here and there matter. What does matter though is selling x-land to x-millionaire where x-millionaire then does something no Lebanese bothered to do and makes more millions. That pisses me off because then our country is not ours. I wouldn’t mind businesses that aren’t Lebanese being there.. its that whole streets, whole towns can be sold without a twitch.

    4) For persecution: I NEVER understood that. Maybe because I don’t think like most Lebanese and don’t understand how people can hate to such high degrees that lead to hate and fear all at once between groups. But my god! this concept always really bothers me because it speaks volumes of the kinds of relationships sects build on at least political level and to some degree between the average Joes.

    All-in-all, great post. And the whole thing about sects having their time to shine sort of thing in politics is what to a great degree ruins this country. That’s all people seem to care about. A lot of people aren’t religious and might even leave religion and still carry sectarian beliefs. How?! its beyond me!

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    • 1) I was actually referring to the part of history we learn in school, the one where Lebanon sent people to Paris and whatnot to be able to form a state. The head of one of those envoys was patriarch Elias Howayek. Sure, many Lebanese are proud of being Lebanese, as they should. But the only sect whose loyalty has been to the idea of “Lebanon” was the Maronites, mostly.

      2) Politics is too complicated, true.

      3) It starts with the farmer selling his land and then it becomes the businessman selling thousands of acres to some other shady businessman. If enough farmers sell their land, the next thing you know their whole village is sold. It’s happening everywhere and that’s what’s sad.

      4) All sects felt persecuted I think at a certain time. But recently, the panic in Maronite (and Christian) communities has been increasing quite a bit due to the Islamists uprising in Egypt, Tunisia, etc… and due to the unrest in Syria. I don’t think there’s any need to panic (maybe be cautious but definitely not panic) but my opinion isn’t the popular one because people are feeling like they will soon lose power. They need to know this is not the case.

      Thank you for reading. And yeah, many people who carry sectarian beliefs do not even practice their religion.

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