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    The Two Facets of Lebanese Vitality

    Whoever follows the news media, television programs in particular, is offered an astonishing flurry of social issues: from health, to education, the economy, youth, gender relations, homosexuality, sectarianism, racism, prison conditions, political reliance upon control and surveillance, freedom of the press, and other things… There are many admirable and progressive government decisions – such as the introduction of a 20% quota of women in Lebanon’s municipal councils, the rulings made by the judiciary superseding the state’s security apparatuses and the latter’s arbitrary and despotic practices, not to mention some indications of reform offered by this minister or that – that can be categorized with such issues.

    That is all well and good. It confirms that Lebanese society, when it cooperates with itself as a society, has vitality. And perhaps it is this same vitality that transforms into violence when Lebanese society, instead, conducts itself as a mere collection of sects.

    However, this is not the most important issue at hand. Satisfaction over such instances of social consciousness can only truly come when that society has a natural political life. How nice it would be if Lebanese politics – as should be the case – were an expression of such social concerns and the divisions over them, instead of Hezbollah’s weapons, Syrian influence and professed causes of destiny. In such a case, we could then designate ourselves as progressives or reactionaries, liberals or conservatives, according to whatever positions we take on the aforementioned issues of economic, education and health concern.

    What is happening now has created a noticeable lethargy for engaging each other in the back-and-forth debate of social issues. This lethargy is accompanied by an absence of true politicking and a disregard for the fundamental topics of concern to any society and state. This is evidenced by the fact that, despite the so-called “political” commentary often offered to us, rarely have we actually seen any difference between one side and another, especially on the part of the “united” ministers in cabinet.

    As such, that which is social has become an alternative to that which is political and, from there, has become a game of procrastination.

    The danger in this is two-fold: On the one hand, a mock consciousness of society’s issues has come to prevail, with the deceptions that accompany it spreading throughout society, a repeat of the delusions prevalent during the 90s, when we began efforts to rebuild and reconstruct, the divisions over which appeared amicable. Then, after a time, we were surprised that not everything was as cordial as it seemed… On the other hand, to be more direct, within this game of procrastination we are playing, it seems that we have gotten used to a certain level of political “silliness” – though the matter is not silly at all – while lying in wait for political “earnestness” to eventually appear. It is frightening that such political earnestness could turn out to be an eruption of violence, the regional conditions for which have gradually been accumulating, whereby the country’s current political suppression would bring about deplorable results. It is at that point, unfortunately, that we would come to observe that other facet of Lebanese vitality.

    Hazem SAGHIEH
    NOW Lebanon
    02.02.2010

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