The New Era of Lebanon’s Democracy:
A Dream Come True
Who said that dreams do not come true?
Who said that history cannot be written twice; once in martyrdom and another in victory?
The tireless people of Lebanon have survived on hope for long and painful years and today, the hope is finally manifested in a strong, conscientious, and confident president.
To illuminate the extensive yet elusive concept of democracy, it is crucially important to identify the root of the myriad drawbacks that Lebanon has encountered, on its quest to define it and implement it. For many years, democracy has been a “theory”, a “dogma”, under which many wars have been fought, many martyrs have been sacrificed, and many attempts for peace have been misguidedly aborted. The Lebanese government has always fallen victim to divisive strategies that formulated discrimination and fueled prejudice on many fronts. The hierarchy of ‘rulers’ and officials has been successful in creating a uniquely biased and extremely partial political culture, implicitly renouncing justice and democracy altogether.
If we go down memory lane, exploring the several yet similar governments that reigned Lebanon, we recognize time and time again, the diverse faces of bigotry, corruption, and prejudice. For many years, hiding behind notorious ‘headlines’ such as the Syrian occupation, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the Iranian influence, the Christians’ sustenance, ISIS, and recently the Syrian refugees, our government has often resorted to indirectly but consciously split up the country into channels of segregation and disunion. It has become so obvious in the recent years, reaching a blatantly predictable point. Therefore, in a country so used to severance and rupture, an unexpected yet unambiguous agreement between President General Michel Aoun and all Lebanese political parties came as a shocking and bewildering move, and not as an honorable and heroic attempt to unify a country so tainted by destructive divisiveness. It is mainly because our political culture had diligently taught us to dread and reject any innovative agreement among factions of different religions. Yes, we have chanted and recited impeccable pro-democracy slogans in our busy streets, but we were yet to see it executed in its true, untangled, untwisted, and untainted meaning. Our former leaders have done a great job renewing their vows and commitments to various unreliable foreign allies, leaving our Lebanon stranded in a tug of antagonism and disagreement. Additionally, what the Lebanese army had to face and endure through the many convoluted internal conflicts is a valid attestation of what our country should be about. The unity, dedication, and allegiance of its troops proved that solidarity and equality are the courageous ways to attain democracy and exercise it.
The election of General Michel Aoun for the presidency of Lebanon has, through that ethical and patriotic perspective, revolutionized all pre-programmed standards and rigid political principles. His unyielding secular beliefs are based on equality, unity, tolerance, justice, and freedom. His recognition of Lebanon as one, united, liberal country promoting and exercising fairness and acceptance/respect of ALL citizens, irrespective of their religion and political affiliation, has been consistent over the years, against all odds. His true faith in democracy has never wavered; it has always been a peaceful yet vital and powerful one. What took him a lifetime to achieve, sometimes in estrangement and exile, is reflected in the unbreakable unity and relentless dedication of the Lebanese people. He has finally embodied their cherished dream of a unified, sovereign, and democratic country. This is indeed, the first time that the people of Lebanon can truly see and believe that patriotism does not embed a religious affiliation or vice-versa. It is an inherent right for all citizens to enjoy and claim as their own.
Lebanon is at the threshold of a new liberating era that advocates fairness, long-term peace, equality, and rejects discrimination, bias, and corruption. It now has in General Michel Aoun the perfect president who will enforce the basic yet imperative rules for a free and democratic country. Through his laudable leadership, the free people of Lebanon, supported by all their faithful allies in the United States, will stand for a cohesive, undivided Lebanon; ONE country for ALL Lebanese.
--By Marlene M. Sabeh