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Survival of the Lebanese Project

January 15, 2008 @ No Comments

Survival of the Lebanese Project
Tuesday, 15 January, 2008 @ 6:34 AM

By Ghassan Karam
Special to Ya Libnan

It is all up to us. Let us elect only those that care for the idea of a Lebanese identity and let us proceed to rid ourselves of the discriminatory practice of sectarianism.

The nation state is a relatively recent phenomenon in the annals of history.

Many have argued that the notion gained wide acceptance and legitimacy after the treaty of Westphalia in 1648 which advocated the idea of sovereignty, independence and self determination. A nation state is an artificial creation that will not succeed unless the inhabitants of the land in question feel bound together by a special bond and as such are willing to promote the national interest of that nation against all other claims.
It is not sufficient for an organization of a nation-state to be proclaimed by the appropriate international bodies.

A nation-state has to earn the right to legitimacy by at least showing that its residents act as if the condominium is worth preserving. When they do not, and it has happened often enough, nation-states cease to exist and others are created. It is ultimately up to the residents to demonstrate that they are endowed with a sense of citizenship and thus the respective country deserves to be recognized and its sovereignty respected.

Pity the nation that is created under the impression that it does constitute a state but whose inhabitants fail continuously to rise to the responsibilities that such a recognition implies. Pity a nation that does not have the faith to take a stand in defense of its very essence of being. Pity a nation that fails to take its commensurate responsibilities seriously and that does not have the courage to differentiate between right and wrong. Surely there is a demand that is one too many for a state to be permitted to exist, survival at any cost becomes hollow and meaningless. What good is it to maintain the charade that a nation state exists if that implies that its people are not free, enjoy no personal liberty and their personal and communal concerns are never taken into consideration.
It pains me to say this, but Lebanon is at such a historical fork where its people must decide whether they value the idea of sovereignty and independence or whether they feel that this whole Lebanese project is a cruel hoax.

People that believe strongly in their manifest destiny will not always agree on the details of what it takes to approach their shared goal but they will seldom disagree on the goal. In modern day Lebanon, the disagreement is not about only the means but about the ends, and to make things even worse one side appears not to have any domestic motivations while those that proclaim their devotion to sovereignty, independence and democracy lack the commitment to translate their beliefs into concrete actions.

It is unfortunate but it does appear that neither side has a strong desire to bring forth a viable, democratic and secular Lebanon. Empty words do not cut it. If Lebanon is to survive, then the current leadership on both sides is not in a position to deliver a solution: they are the problem.

A good beginning to injecting hope into the Lebanese nation-state is for M. Suleiman to withdraw his candidacy, for M14 to implement the law by scheduling and holding presidential elections as stated by the constitution and then for the Lebanese to show their outrage with those that do not hold the national interest as a sacred mission by going down to the streets and by reelecting in due course a new leadership whose claim to the privilege of representation does not rest on either religious affiliation, feudal ancestry, gender or sexual orientation.

Let us elect only those that care for the idea of a Lebanese identity and let us proceed to rid ourselves of the discriminatory practice of sectarianism. A nation-state must be the sole master of its destiny and as such neither Syrian, Iranian, Arab League nor Western powers should be given more than the opportunity to only give advice whenever their opinions are sought. If we fail to take a strong stand for the right to have a nation, that would be tantamount to having abdicated our right to call for such a state to exist.

It is all up to us. We are the only players that count. I only hope that enough people want the Lebanese project to prosper and succeed.


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