Wednesday, September 9, 2015

A couple of questions before today’s demonstration

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The big question anyone is always failing to answer is HOW? That’s something so very Lebanese, isn’t it? We’re very good on the WANT. But when it comes to the HOW, suddenly there’s no one home.

We want to urgently solve the garbage crisis. Great, but how? Are we all backing a clear plan we studied, discussed and thought about? Are we saying to the government that’s exactly what we want and we won’t leave the streets until you get it done?

We want to change the political establishment. Fantastic, but how? How do we intend to do it? Do we have candidates in mind, new figures, honest and competent, we believe can bring the change we long for? Do we have enough of them so they could actually weigh on the decision making process when or if elected?

We want to fight corruption. Fabulous, but again how? Is there a transparency law we are all aware of and we can pressure the parliament to adopt? Actually there is, but how many of us know it exists and what it’s really all about? Is there an existing process within the Lebanese institutions that can hold accountable corrupt politicians and help bring them to justice? Actually there is, so why aren’t we using it, why aren’t we filing lawsuits, bringing proofs, etc?

We want to have a secular state. Music to my ears, but can I dare ask one more time: how? What is the proposed process to transform the deeply rooted sectarian system into a secular one? Knowing that sectarianism is, until further notice, something many Lebanese are afraid to abandon, especially among religious minorities.

When the movement started, it would have been ridiculous to ask these questions. People had enough and needed to express their anger and frustration. But over a month down the line, it’s no longer acceptable to have vague answers to precise problems. It’s no longer acceptable to be insulted, accused of treason, corruption and whatnot if we ask what are we truly bringing to the table?

Isn’t it how partisans of the political establishment react, these partisans we so vehemently mock and call sheep? Isn’t it how fascism starts, when critics are silenced in the name of a higher cause? Isn’t it how corruption flourishes, when there are only vague answers and illusive solutions to very real problems?

Some say: it’s not our role to propose solutions, it’s the government’s. It’s not our role to know how to solve Lebanon’s problems, it’s the political establishment’s.

So basically, we expect a government we accuse of incompetence and a political establishment we know is corrupt to find solutions to Lebanon’s problems. How absurd is that? If we expect them to solves our problems why are we demanding their removal from office? If we’re demanding their removal from office why are we still counting on them to solves our problems?

Unless of course we don’t really want solutions. Unless of course we have some other agenda in mind. Unless of course we prefer indulging in empty slogans and populist speeches.

Populism is the garbage of the mind and it does to people’s judgment what the sandstorm is doing to Lebanon. Many, and I’m one of them, are simply refusing to be clouded by it. Simply because it’s the antinomy of democracy. Simply because it’s the enemy of democracy.

Until all these questions have clear answers, is it surprising that so many people choose to stay home rather than take to the streets?

If we want real change for Lebanon, then we need to change the way we go about it. And finally know exactly where we’re going and how to get there.

Lebanon’s fate is at stake. The Lebanese people’s fate is at stake. So shall we stop the nonsense and finally get to work?


© Claude El Khal, 2015

Photo by Sandra Chidiac

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