One day we’ll have an Independence Day
I usually write satire. But i wont this time. I’ll handle this topic differently for a change.
So today we celebrate in Lebanon our 2014 Independence Day.
While this occasion has become synonymous locally with either apathy, robotic political milking and/or joking disdain, it actually had its good roots at one point.
So what is Independence Day in general for any nation and what does it mean to us here today ?
Independence day for any nation designates a successful rite of passage to adulthood.
It signifies that the different people of said region at one point found common grounds to unite for, fought together their last major occupier to drive it off and sealed this pack with blood giving finally birth to a new nation.
That’s how nations are built. A communal pact between the regions and ethnicity and tribes gets put into place. Not everybody will be happy with it as it also involves conquests and some might try to seceded later, but at first a group pact is built one way or another over ideological principles, military unity, social & economic alliances and compromises.
A nation is nothing magical or romantic as we are peddled with daily by people who know not of what they speak. A nation is also not eternal, it was created at a certain time and will last for some distinct time as long as it serves the combined purposes of the people living in it.
As long as it can sustain itself. It’s really just a social symbioses system.
Now that we looked at what a nation is and what independence day means for any nation, we look at our own state of lebanese affairs here.
When our forefathers got their independence from the french, what blood tax did they pay to win their freedom ? What social and economic pact did they agree on between themselves to build a new nation on ?
Actually they relatively paid nothing, apart from a few minor street protestations here and there and publicized house arrests of our past leaders we didnt pay anything that can be considered sealed in blood.
The french were too weak at that time and were forced by the other great powers to leave in a global chess pawn game much bigger than us. We were just the catalyst.
So what about the new nation itself ? Didn’t our forefather build it over good foundations ?
Well, the borders of the new nation called great lebanon were drawn up by the french as they cut up the region. A border that included different people with different backgrounds and views on how to define this same space. With one group viewing mount lebanon as the defining core of this new nation and another not sharing this view at all.
Yes our past leaders felt at one point that they no longer needed the french ruling them, but that’s pretty much it. Before they decided to ask the french to leave they didn’t sit down and agree on how to run the country afterwards nor how to define it. The french mandate had already done most of that work and they were content to sleep on it until it blew up later as a civil war in their face as if the lessons of the previous 1800s bloody ethnic wars in the mountain and bekaa gave none of these leaders a reason to think it might happen again..
Now people might stop at this point and say that this was our main independence chance on the 22nd of November 1943.
But that is not correct, we got one more important independence opportunity that we missed back in 2005 as well.
Back then the Syrian mandate that started in the 70s and was officially blessed by the west in the 90s through Taef was crumbling much like the french mandate before it.
The syrians were therefore forced to leave this time amidst chaos and assassinations to the backdrop of a new global chess game over our heads.
At least this time there were protests to get them out, yet sadly the nation was split with also equal counter protests and the protesters from each camp not totally agreeing on what they want for a nation apart from kicking/keeping the syrians out. This was very much like what happened with the french mandate politically.
And indeed the syrians left after having ruled us directly for decades and became another player meddling in our business like the rest of the regional and global powers who can’t keep their hands out of our affairs.
But for a short while there we were really free and had a window of opportunity to sit down and agree on a new national pact to build a solid nation on since the syrians were previously running everything for us. But we didnt do that, instead we bickered over petty politics and the size of the cheese like rats.
We missed two chances for real independence and now we find ourselves not able to even elect a president, not able to elect a parliament, run government and still not able to unify the basic definition of what is ‘Lebanon’.
So no, we can’t celebrate independence day today. We didn’t earn it yet.
Who knows though, perhaps one day we will.
Til then we can use this day to stand a moment of remembrance in silence and think of the missed chances we got to actually have an Independence Day instead of a failed state.