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A Note on this Independence Day

A Note on this Independence Day

Once upon a time, there existed in a far away place, a wilderness so pure and dense that it was deemed impervious even to evil. Its overgrown boundary of holy cedar forests and longwinded luminescent seashore severed it from hostile civilizations and made it a haven for persecuted souls seeking refuge in its saintly terrains. Though nature was very kind to them, the people in return were unkind to it, and even more to each other. Carrying the burdens of their past persecution, they seethed with resentment and fear of one another. But even in the holiest of lands, resentment breeds resentment, and time was shown that there was no recess holy enough, nor any place sublime enough that could claim exemption from the fierceness of these peoples who had pledged their blood against one another. Their competitive vengeance under the guise of self-preservation and domination overpowered any form of kinship they could have for one another or for their haven. The imperviousness of the land was thus eventually destroyed at the hands of its combative tribal inhabitants, and the geological fault lines of holy waterways and forest watersheds were replaced with the human front lines of battleways and bloodshed. The count is sixteen front lines, one for every confession carrying one selfish idea of a fantasy nation in which the inhabitants’ social contract shall bow down to a sectarian order put in place to quell the fears and compulsions of its terrified and self-absorbed contending tribes. This land is Lebanon, my country.

And so it became our curse: pluralism. The fear of being dominated by the ‘foreign other’ coupled with the proactive haste of wanting to dominate that foreign other drove the Lebanese minorities to the front line against each other over and over again across decades. But despite the constant conflict, every community in this land remained a minority; pragmatic and bold but distrustful and distrusting, working and turning against one another at the drop of a hat, as they all believe that their continued existence and ultimate fate depends upon their own determination and resources and upon usurping the rights of all their compatriot factions… Resultantly, a strong, central government for the entire country was never able to emerge in the history of Lebanon, but instead, disjoined strong tribal leaders empowered by their religious men, who benefit from mutually reinforcing positions, ruled the country and their respective peoples with fear. Fear of the other.

Perhaps no territory in the wide extent of this region can furnish a livelier picture of how long the cruelty and fierceness of human warfare can last. Resentment has always governed this nation, and bred more resentment across belligerent generations for that is the human condition’s cycle of violence.

But here is my point on this Independence Day of November 22nd: pluralism is a curse in our nation only if we choose to remain selfish with our nation. You cannot deserve to live a dignified livelihood in this land until you learn how to share this land with your compatriots. Our history is the empirical proof that resistance, resentment and vengeance have no place in finding dignity, nor in achieving nation-building. Every faction makes fiery speeches accusing other factions of trampling their dignity, كرامتنا!”، يصيحون”, but understand this: you will never be able to live in dignity as long as you wish to deprive any of your compatriots of that same dignity… Once we understand this as a nation, once we truly grasp the importance of dignifying all our compatriots no matter how different their beliefs are, only then will we come to terms with the real meaning of “independence”… For as long as we carry fear and resentment for our fellow citizens, we will never be independent of anything.

Here’s to hoping that we one day may truly celebrate a real day of independence of Lebanon.

Written by Sara El-Yafi

29 Comments

  1. Khalil Tayara · November 22, 2014

    Amazing text… Here is to hoping!

  2. Malek Fares · November 22, 2014

    Sara. You are a legend.

  3. Jihad Krayem · November 22, 2014

    Incredible writing as always. You’re the leader that this country needs, Sara El-Yafi.

  4. Joanna Khattab · November 22, 2014

    Beautiful. So true.

  5. Bob Kretschmar · November 22, 2014

    Great observations. So many of these comments apply to the U.S. as well!

  6. Adam Farrah · November 22, 2014

    Sara, I believe it was Descartes who said that “An optimist may see a light where there is none, but why must the pessimist always run to blow it out?”… You are the light. Thank you for being that voice in the midst of pessimism.

  7. Russell Patient · November 22, 2014

    beautifully written…

  8. Nicholas Haddad · November 22, 2014

    BRILLIANT!!!!!

  9. Jean Arab · November 22, 2014

    So insightful as usual – miss you

  10. Fred Baudin · November 22, 2014

    Vous êtes brillante. Le monde a besoin d’une femme comme vous.

  11. Sirine Ghandour Jawhari · November 22, 2014

    I agree with Bob, it would also apply to people in other lands, far and near (very near). May our pluralism one day prove to be a shining example in the entire region.

  12. David Hamadeh · November 22, 2014

    Amazingg!!

  13. Tarek Abed · November 22, 2014

    Wonderful piece of literature 🙂

  14. Elsa Karam · November 22, 2014

    Amazing post Sara. I hope we see you running the country one day.

  15. Jad · November 23, 2014

    Very well said and beautifully written.

  16. Joumana El-Yafi · November 23, 2014

    Brilliant as usual my Saroura !!!Such attaching style! Food for thought for everybody!After each of your posts we are all more knowledgeable and informed,more cultured, and definitely more human!God bless you, present and future non sectarian gorgeous leader!

    • Omar Adi · November 23, 2014

      ^^ priceless! Put everything aside, nothing more beautiful than seeing your mama so proud of you! There’s indeed something special about the Middle child! I told’em! Great things are coming! So jealous of Lebanon, wish we Syrians had a Sara too! “God bless you, present and future non sectarian gooooowwwgeous leader!” Allah ye7milna yaki

  17. Samar Harmouche-Karam · November 23, 2014

    Amazing ! Bravo Sara !!!!!

  18. Joe Arib · November 23, 2014

    The great Sara El-Yafi….

  19. A. C. · November 24, 2014

    Sara. I wait for the day where you become our leader.

  20. Mike · November 24, 2014

    Ouufff… YAFI. This is better than Braveheart and Gladiator’s speeches…. WOW!!!!! I have chills!!

  21. Alan Hanna · November 24, 2014

    I agree with all the above, Sara. You are a legend, and we want you to lead our country.

  22. Sam · November 24, 2014

    Hassan Nasrallah announced two days ago that Jesus, or a holy saviour, was coming back to save the world. Maybe you are that saviour? I really believe you might be.

  23. Paul G. · November 24, 2014

    Be prepared for greatness in your life, Sara. You will change the world.

  24. Hounada Diab · November 24, 2014

    ما شاالله يا ساره ودايما بتنورينا بمقالاتك

  25. Nicholas Haddad · November 24, 2014

    She’s a leader.

  26. Tristan Hudson · November 24, 2014

    Genius.

  27. Ibrahim AlHusseini · November 25, 2014

    One mind at a time Sarah, you’re creating the critical mass needed to realize the nation you rightfully love and see possible. In support & friendship, ibrahim

  28. Nadim Haddad · November 25, 2014

    Thank you for the time that you put into translating on paper our thoughts and hopes. Love you Sara !

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