Saturday, November 7, 2015

And now what can we do?

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According to the Constitution, Lebanon is a parliamentary republic where citizens have many means of expressing and defending themselves.

They can vote, they can speak, they can write and publish, they organize and unite, they can demonstrate, they can resort to the law, and, ultimately, to the most radical form of protest: non-cooperation – also called civil disobedience.

Do we, in Lebanon, truly have all those means at our disposal? Realistically, what can we do to defend our basics rights and influence the country’s political process?

For the past two years, we’ve been denied the right to vote. Parliament renewed twice its own mandate, and – in light of the political deadlock due the deep divide between the two ruling factions, both linked to foreign powers and to the instable and evolving situation in the region – new elections are currently no more than wishful thinking.

Non-cooperation is not on the table either, because it’s only effective if there’s a strong central government and working institutions. In Lebanon, where the government barely manages itself, let alone the rest of the country, and where institutions mostly exist in name only, non-cooperation will not just be fruitless, it will add to the overall chaos.

Obviously, violence is never an option. Especially in Lebanon where it could spark a fire that would be almost impossible to extinguish – as our history endlessly proved.

So what can we do?

We still have very powerful means at our disposal that, if properly used, can be very effective to initiate the change Lebanon needs: we can speak, we can write and publish, we can organize and unite, we can demonstrate, we can resort to the law.

Basically, it’s up to us.

We need a serious reality check and understand that nothing will happen by itself, our rights will not suddenly and miraculously appear at our doorstep, nor the political process will give us a call and ask for guidance.

If we’re incapable of uniting and properly using the means at our disposal – guaranteed by the Lebanese Constitution – if we just want to sit and watch, as mere spectators, then we should stop blaming politicians for the pitiful state of the country, and start blaming ourselves.

As we would have clearly proved that we’re not the citizens Lebanon desperately needs.

© Claude El Khal, 2015

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