By Khaldoon Al-Saee,  Lebanon: That very country that brings warmth to my heart when it comes to mind.  A country blessed with Mother Nature

In the same way as extreme sectarianism is lethal to a nation such as Lebanon, the total opposite, being extreme secularism is also rejected by a large proportion of the population.  Yet moderate secularism seems to be the best solution for our great nation.  That word being called for over and over in the past years seems mythical to some.  Many preach it, many claim to practice it, but very few have perfected it.  So you might ask, what is the solution for Lebanon?  The solution is a sovereign united country, serving its citizens with justice and equality.  Yet many ponder if national unity and secularism can be achieved in so little time, and to them I answer that the road is long and tiresome but we must have a vision for the future.  We must remember that we can not allow our children to inherit the fear and hatred towards their own neighbors and countrymen.

What must be done:

  • Education:  This is one of the most important issues that need to be reformed in current day Lebanon.  Schools must teach its pupils about all the other religions and explain differences in sects pertaining to each religion.  Furthermore it is of the utmost importance that teachers stress to their pupils (especially in their elementary years) that they have to love their countrymen regardless of religion/sect.  The idea that the population all has one label in common, and that is of being Lebanese, must be engraved into the heads of our children in the generations to come. 

  • Children’s upbringing: It is the moral responsibility of each and every parent to have each of their children brought up with the lack of segregation between sects.  As there is little hope for our current community to believe in secularism and unite together as a nation, we must project our hopes and views onto our children and generations to come.

  • Fusion of Communities:  In our current status, Lebanon is widely separated with regards to areas and communities.  The main line of east & west Beirut drawn during the days of the war to present day Lebanon is the biggest example.  Communities in Lebanon from different sects and beliefs must learn to live together even in the same towns and villages.  It has always been custom for relatives to live closer to each other but the current labeling of many areas in Lebanon as Maronite, Shiite. Sunni or Durzy must be sidelined.  Lebanon is for all the Lebanese people; as long as one pays taxes to the government then he/she is under one banner that is Lebanon and must be allowed to live where he/she pleases.  There must be welcoming of people from different sects to regions that they are traditionally a minority in.  Again it all starts in decreasing the fear between sects and these small gestures from the heart would aid the Lebanese of all sects in taking giant strides towards mutual acceptance.

  • Civil Marriage:  This topic has been under major discussion among the Lebanese.  As of today there is no civil marriage law in Lebanon and many Lebanese that want to get married in such a manner travel to neighboring Cyprus and unite under Cypriot law.  Many have denounced the thought of a civil marriage mandate and many have praised it, thus the easiest solution would be to make it optional for any Lebanese citizen to marry under such a law.  This would allow two people of different sects or faith to unite and still keep their religion.  It would also bring two families of the bride and groom closer to learn more about culture and clear up misunderstandings between sects and faiths.  In the same time this would give birth to new generations of Lebanese with parents of different sects and thus the acceptance of other sects would be widespread.

  • Leaders of the past:  Lebanon needs new faces representing its population.  For years and years, people have followed the same warlords of the past that to this day represent sectarian division.  It truly is hard for some that lived the rough days of the war to forgive and forget and it is especially harder to do so with the faces of these leaders still in representation in the government.  Lebanon needs politicians with a new political plan that aids the greater good of the nation as a whole and not the greater good of a community at the expense of another.  There is greater need for those that try to bring communities together and settle differences the democratic and civil way, not that of brutes and savages. 

Final Words:

            It must be noted that this is nothing but a brief summary of issues that need to be changed and modified for us to come together as a nation.  Lebanon is a very complicated country that has problems that cannot be solved in one concrete way or another.  Although the key is for everyone to slowly but eventually instill trust in each other and in the same time each and every citizen must give up a little for his/her country as whole. 

I have previously stated that it is a tiresome road, but if we travel this road together, our strengths will multiply and our obstacles will remain easier.  Let us jump these hurdles side by side, as we are stronger united.  Let us all spread the concept of hope, as “Hope is a good thing — maybe the best of things. And no good thing ever dies.”  The goal may seem far away, even for our children, but as long as we take a step forward, we will be closer to our goal.  Let us not succumb to pressure from those that lead for personal gain; let us fuel the passion for a united Lebanon; and let us fight under one banner; that which is the Lebanese flag. 

"We are not enemies but friends.
We must not be enemies.
Though passion may have strained
It must not break our bonds of affection.
The mystic chords of memory will swell when again touched,
as surely they will be by the better angels of our nature." ~
Abraham Lincoln.

Pray for Lebanon, God bless you all.

Khaldoon Al-Saee