Much has been written in the past few months to accommodate either the March 8 or the March 14 movement. Their rivalry has been eating at the very core of Lebanon. Our country has reached a point where people have lost all interest in the first prize, whoever takes over power. Many Lebanese are searching for means to relocate to another place they can call home. While driving on Lebanon’s roads, many of us regularly see two competing advertisement campaigns – one close to March 8, the other to March 14 – both of which have as their theme, “I Love Life. But who doesn’t love life? Who can disagree with what is written on the billboards? There are people in this country who don’t belong to a specific party. In this brief moment I would like to be their voice in saying that one huge billboard should replace all the ones present. It should say: “I Deserve a Chance to Live. I am looking for a chance to survive, to be able to think how I am going to be able to make it in Lebanon and not have to emigrate to countries where survival is something offered much more readily. A friend of mine living in Dubai recently showed me bracelets made out of nanotechnology, designed to prevent tension by allowing the proper course of blood to stream through the body. I mention this detail because the day after he left, last Tuesday, what was supposed to be a peaceful protest turned into an effort to block my path and that of many other Lebanese who wanted to get to work.
There were burning tires, broken cars, and the destruction of public property, the same public property that happened to make it unscathed through the July-August war. There were fistfights, exchanges of harsh words, and in some cases gunfire. After seeing all this, and the lives of human beings being treated so lightly, I felt the urge to write this article to direct people away from the ambient propaganda that is destroying the Lebanese people. Everyone living in our society knows this problem, but sometimes it’s good to have the point of view of an outsider, someone like me who doesn’t belong to any party.
Nobody is perfect, error is part of human nature, but the important thing is to determine how we can fix our mistakes. If we live in the past, we will only destroy our future.
Those of us who lived through the last Lebanese civil war have been striving to catch up with the rest of the modern world and return Lebanon to its previous prosperity – in order to shield our offspring from what we went through as children. The hunger for power of Lebanese leaders has been destroying Lebanon and pushing the country backwards even more than did the summer war with Israel last year. People should use common sense and accept their neighbors as equals without interfering in their lifestyle.
They should respect their freedom to do what they want, as long as that freedom does not destroy another person’s right to exercise his freedom as well. Who cares what a person is wearing or what God he believes in? The important thing is to communicate with others and respect them for what they are. Being a follower of a religion or party is a choice that individuals make, but not everyone likes to be a follower; some like to be independent, to lead a life of tranquility. Peace has never been a part of Lebanese culture. We have tried to create many “independence days, but we will never truly achieve this unless we accept that we should all live together.
Everyone is entitled to a better life, where people can go to sleep and know that their safety is guaranteed, without having to worry what tomorrow might bring or whether they can go for a walk without being shot. This applies to all Lebanese, regardless of their beliefs or the color of the clothes they wear; the only colors we should adhere to are those of our national flag. The Lebanese must combine their strength and stick together, before it is too late. They say that whoever does not learn from the past is doomed to repeat it. Let history say that the Lebanese people overcame all adversity and saved their country. Asking for a chance to live is the minimal human right that should be available to all Lebanese. Being Lebanese means being proud, keeping one’s head high and joining with fellow Lebanese to preserve this country of ours. Riad Bou Hadir is on the online staff of THE DAILY STAR.