Lebanon protests show peoples too need to dream
With the start of the uprising on 17 October, a new civic consciousness was born. As they try to overcome the evils of the civil war, the Lebanese demand social justice, something that cannot be ignored or minimised.
Beirut (AsiaNews) – The desire for shared citizenship and justice are some of the deepest hallmarks of the uprising we are witnessing. Of all the thoughts it generates, the main, most moving, truest and most unexpected one is that it represents the symbolic end of the civil war.
Here we can see the Lebanese people, irrespective of communities and classes, undergoing a huge catharsis, revealing and releasing itself from the straitjacket forced upon them, at a cost of nearly 200,000 dead and missing. God knows how many people have been exiled, wounded, disabled, plunged into trauma to last a lifetime as the mind can be harmed as much as the body.
No real forgiveness has been demanded, nor granted, for the fury that devastated a Lebanon trapped in power politics of nations. This is about a new rising generation, bent on transcending the trauma, amid the euphoria of a renewed sense of national identity beyond communal differences. It would be unforgivable not to see this issue, in the name of economics or security, and to stop this mingling of members of the same people who, from being defeatist and prostrate, are learning or relearning how to engage in public debate and feeling for the first-time masters of their own story. This is an infinitely precious dream that must not be broken. Even the people need to dream.
With the uprising of 17 October, we are seeing the founding moment of a new public consciousness in which the Lebanese transcend the harm they did to each other, despite populist speeches that seek to stop them. A tremendous and great lesson in civic duty is under way, to the sound of orchestras and the singing of the national anthem.
On the Adyan Foundation website one can read: “It is great that an uprising in which the suffering of the men and women of Tripoli resonates with the sons and daughters of Jounieh, Beirut, Tyre and other regions. And vice versa. Diversity turns into fragmentation when it is not linked to solidarity, when it does not have as its horizon the dignity of every human being, universal social justice and a sustainable development.”
The uprising’s call for social justice cannot be ignored, or even minimised. Inequalities are out into the open with, as background, corruption and stolen or squandered public money. We are seeing the start of a more dignified life. Complaints against widespread unemployment are regularly made. In any event, if those in power were not so near-sighted, the first thing to do, the most striking, would be to immediately retain forest wardens and other civil defence volunteers deprived of their rights by the despotism of a group that believes itself invested with the mission of "defending the rights of Christians".
The fires earlier this the month are still in everyone's mind. They exemplify the precarious living conditions of certain social groups. We must think about the latter when we see toothless men and women come up to the microphone. The lack of dental care is a sign of extreme poverty. According to the statistics, nearly 50,000 families live below the threshold of extreme poverty, on a few dollars a day.
Some of their emaciated and unshaven faces appear on the small screen. But can we forget vulnerable group like the physically and especially mentally disabled, i.e. those who have been reduced to begging to supplement an already meagre budget? Can we forget the suspension of housing loans to the despair of thousands of young couples without means? Can we forget the shame of our prisons where so many young people die?
“What has been happening in Lebanon since last Thursday, 17 October, is one of the episodes of a global citizen-led revolution against the abuses of an unfettered globalised liberal economic order that is indifferent to the daily hardships and sufferings of the people,” writes Luc Balbont, a blogger for L'Oeuvre d'Orient.
“This is also happening in France with the yellow vests movement that broke out in November 2018, but also in Algeria since February, and in Baghdad since the beginning of October. What do all these thousands of Lebanese – Christians, Muslims, Druze, Agnostics, pouring into the streets of cities, from North to South – want? They simply want the rule of law, a citizen-orientated state with decent public services like water, electricity, public transport, hospitals, good roads, social justice, equality, etc. What do they not want anymore? A country that since independence in 1943 has been run by the same families, from father to son, who privilege their interests to the detriment of those of the community, by "confessionalising" the latter, in order to better subjugate it. They do not want to live under greedy, puny medieval dictators.
How can I finish this article without paying tribute to those who, since 17 October, have tirelessly travelled around the country with microphones to cover this unprecedented uprising! They should be named one by one and given all sorts of medals. As a mirrors and loudspeakers of the uprising of dignity, they have done wonders. Without them, this national élan could have run out of breath. They reconcile us to a chaotic media landscape that for too long has divided the Lebanese instead of bringing them together. By participating today in national debate, the latter have redeemed themselves and mended what they helped to destroy, namely our unity.