The Arab spring revolutions have proved to the entire world that “YES WE CAN” is not just some random slogan.
It is, at least for Egypt, Tunisia, Libya, Yemen, Bahrain and from the bottom of my heart hopefully soon for Syria; a reality.
These historical events that have taken place over the past 9 months have changed the world for ever; and I believe that they just might have pushed the Arab world into an upcoming “century of enlightenment”, just like the one Europe and particularly France had, more than three hundred years ago.
The French Revolution differs from all Arab revolutions because of two main characteristics.
ONE: While the revolution is usually considered to have taken place between 1789 and 1799, the French revolution was actually being prepared by the likes of Diderot, Rousseau, Voltaire and Montesquieu; decades before the people went to the streets. It was these “Enlightened men” and many others like them who, through the use of Literature, music, fables and extreme philosophical ingenuity; were able to spark the flame that lit; that small immortal candle inside the oppressed minds of free men. A flame that eventually, led the way to a world where REASON would prevail.
TWO: the most important goal that was to be reached during the French revolution was the separation of government from religion, and the annihilation of religious influence over the state and the people’s way of life.
It was ideas that sparked the revolution. Not frustration, not madness, not anger nor shared excitement. Ideas; “And ideas are bulletproof”.
What worries me most in the “blinded by religion” Arab world; is that whenever freedom is acquired; it often does not come along with the instruction manual that says “your freedom ends, where other people’s freedom begins”. So what happens is the following: A misconception of freedom and democracy that eventually leads to a realization that “power” can now be attained by anyone, along with a twist of illiteracy and ignorance caused by years of oppression and the still TABOO subject called religion whose sole purpose is to divide (if you don’t agree kindly refer to Iraq from 2003 to present)… add to the formula the chaos left behind by a fallen regime and an endless supply of weapons for rebels. How can the revolutions go wrong?
One can only imagine.
BUT…. There is hope.
Right here in Lebanon, I witnessed the formation of an idea, or to put it exactly into words the courage to finally talk about an idea that has long been present. A non-sectarian non-religious state.
It was a few months ago that I received a phone call from a dear friend saying “don’t ask, you just have to come to this meeting”. And putting my full trust in her I did.
What I saw and heard that night gave me hope that “someday” change might come. And “someday”; YES THEY WILL.
It will not be us. We will be long dead by the time it happens.
The decision was taken that night to start the “down with the sectarian state” marches that gathered thousands of people, all over Lebanon over a period of one month.
And then; just faded away.
I never attended one of those marches even though they mostly stood for everything I believe in. But I knew that night; during the intense debate that took place between the hundred or so people who were there that almost no one got it right. Specially when they all cheered to the thought that “a revolution is not supposed to be organized” and the other dumb goal they set of “we should tell all the politicians to step down RIGHT NOW”.
It didn’t quite work did it?
We have not yet reached our 1789. We have not yet earned the right to change.
Because while our candles might have shown us the reasonable path; we are still but a firefly in a universe of darkness.
Our job now is not to march. Our job is to do, just as Voltaire, Montesquieu, Rousseau and Diderot did… SHAPE an IDEA.
Our job is to lay the foundation to what will become a true non-sectarian, non-religiously influenced, and united, democratic sovereign state.
Raise your children well; convince your friends and family. Study what freedom truly is and understand it so that you can teach it. Write about it, paint about it, sing about it, and make films about it.
And one day; when there are enough fireflies. They will march.
They will first ask for the government to officially acknowledge and admit that religion has only been a source of misery for this country. They will ask for a government backed, constitutional “rehabilitation council” whose sole purpose is to slowly shape the minds of the Lebanese people through education, activities, NGO’s, ads, and enforced laws just like the Germans did to get rid of the Nazi ideology after World War 2.
It is a long procedure that involves changing the essence of an entire population that has been fighting for hundreds of years.
At some point our 1789 will come.
But not now.
“In most things success depends on knowing how long it takes to succeed. “
Charles de Montesquieu