On Identity and Uprising
A Lebanese Story
The Lebanese uprising has failed. It started on October 17, 2019, with a people’s revolution, which petered out during 2020 with the banking crisis and the coronavirus pandemic, and then came to an abrupt and final end on August 4, 2020, when an explosion at the Beirut port damaged half of the city. These dates and events are significant as markers of a failure to launch real change in a country weighed down by an intractable ruling class, a ruling class made of leaders that have satisfied our political and social identities. Our failure to launch has done more damage to the country and to ourselves than the combination of Israeli aggression, Syrian and Iranian hegemony and the threat of ISIS.
Although our leaders are as corrupt as Caligula, we won’t fight them, we continue to serve them what they want, obedience and loyalty. For them, we have fought each other, and we will fight again if Lebanon descends into another civil war. Thirty years ago Lebanon ended a 15 year civil war of identity politics based on religious boundaries, and we’re still bound by those same identities. Turning against our leaders would be like turning against ourselves, they’re a part of us, a part of our identity. We’ve suffered, hungered, lost loved ones, and fought each other because of identity politics. All Lebanese know this. We just don’t know how to fix it.
The only way out of this identity imbroglio is making an identity that we can all rally around, an identity that doesn’t take away our beliefs, culture and personal choices, but enhances who we are and what we do. Is it enough to be called Lebanese? What does it mean to be part of a country called Lebanon? This is something I can’t answer of my own. It needs to be a collective answer, and only the Lebanese people know that answer, because if we continue as we are, letting the echoes of the past consume us, then there won’t be any more Lebanese, except in the books of history.