What Needs to Be Done for the Lebanon of Tomorrow?
Have you asked yourselves, people of Lebanon, what needs to be done for the sake of the Lebanon of tomorrow? Have you made the preparations to face the coming winds of change, or are you deserting yourselves and your homeland, thus allowing foreign events and wills to decide the matter, and becoming like the grass of the slopes, that is created and taken away by the seasons?
Do you believe that you can do something, or are you desperate, unable to confront the new challenges, not having the determination and bodily strength with which you would be able to rise up and plant your field so that the coming generations harvest just as you harvested what the preceding generations have planted?
If, brother from Lebanon, you are unable to reply, then I shall try to reply for you and for myself.
You are my other half who is residing in Lebanon and I am your emigrating half. We together, from here and there, can support our homeland and, consequently, our nations, if we join the onward procession of life that does not stop.
We would join this procession with knowledge, which is today a condition for overcoming the new difficulties and challenges, and which is also the power with which we can overcome the impossible and make the difficult easy.
With knowledge, we take off the mantle of sectarian thought, and are united as one body to the homeland, because in disagreeing about the meaning of heaven we shall lose the earth.
The enormous potential strength inherent in us can make us able to shape our life the way we want. Lebanon is not the President of the State. Lebanon is I around the world; Lebanon exists in the conscience of its citizens, wherever they and you – all of its people who reside in it or are scattered – may be; its riches are its sons’ and daughters’ riches and what they give.
What benefit do we derive from putting the blame on those who offended us and on ourselves because they didn’t know what they had done?
Yesterday has passed and cannot be brought back. Tomorrow is the remaining thing that we put our stake on and in it lies our salvation. What has happened and disappeared belongs to the past; it is not worth one minute to be spent on it.
The mentality of the old administrative and political school with its masters, the heirs of the Ottoman mind, and with those who graduated from it, by no means can produce drastic solutions and progressive ideas for the future, because it sticks to the past, defending its position after that position was relegated to a past age, even if it were dressed in a new mantle. That mentality is unable to exit from the dark tunnel. It is solely concerned about securing its continuity even at others’ expense, and about blocking the road to ambitions and visions.
Imitating, emotional, inactive and non-creative minds cannot see the picture behind the picture; they cannot be imaginative. Looking, as they do, only at what they see, they are not prepared to face what is going to come before it comes.
What Lebanon needs today is an insightful, forward-looking vision. You are living in the homeland, and I am scattered in many countries away from home. I emigrated from my homeland after its land and its distances had become too narrow for me, carrying my concerns and the concerns of my people, dreaming of its tiring and bleak times. I wake up and sleep over the tales and dreams that I gathered, the songs of harvesters and shepherds I have memorized during the glorious times of the threshing floors, my father’s and mother’s stories that remain within myself and narratives around the heating stove, narrated to us by my grandmother during the deep-black nights, while weaving wool, about the interior migration to the fields that people plant and harvest. She narrates to us tales of horror, hunger, hope and love during the two World Wars, at the time when my people were languishing under the yoke of oppression, poverty and torture, suffering the cruelty of those who conquered the land, plundering the bread and water, then disappeared, and how my father and grandfather and their grandfathers cut the rock and ploughed the land, sowed the seeds, created life out of the soil, and lived without any foreigner being able to uproot them from it; the land of the fathers and the forefathers, which I have not left, not fleeing from stinginess or with the purpose of exchanging it for another land; I departed from it in order for me to return to it, carrying with me a wealth of knowledge and experience.
The new land to which I remain indebted with gratitude and loyalty and the deceptive brightness of its civilization couldn’t take from me the beautiful magic of the East; nor could the wonderful highways liberate me from the charm of the earthy roads in my small village; nor could the strong sounds of its music in the ears predominate over the melodious sounds of nightingales and goldfinches.
My brother, my other half from whom I am far, I still live each grain of soil near you, I am extracted from each cloud and I fall like rain on the fields of thirst and hunger around you; I am still as if I have not left the place; together we can rebuild our homeland.
You are the one who has stood guard over the land and I am the one who is scattered among the nations whose roots strike deep in creation of the New World; let me relinquish my exile and come to you from my many places: from the field, from the store, which is found in almost any village in America and other places in the world of emigration, from the factory, from the laboratory where work is being done to develop machines, medicines and foodstuffs which peoples of the world need; let me and let the physician, the lawyer and the professional who cover wide stretches of the lands of the Western nations – let us all bring to you some of what our hands have gathered. We want to come to you today with our expertise and experiences, with love in the depth of our hearts and with our knowledge from here that you have been denied, and we took with you into our depths what the mentality of the traditional school has not thought about. Those in our country who are shielded with names and titles are not of any benefit to our homeland.
“If you search you would find; if you knock at the door, it will be opened.”
Lebanon’s boundaries are beyond the limits of geography. Its boundaries are in its human being, and in every place where a Lebanese provides a good example, and where he carries with him the message of truth, goodness and beauty.
When my homeland became too narrow for my ancestors, they spread in the earth, thrived in it and lived. We, their present sons and daughters, if the expanse of land is too narrow for us we would search for the dimensions of the depth of the human being and the land; dimensions that have not yet been fully utilized, and we invest our future in the distinct deep-rooted Lebanese creativity inherent in our great, superior people.
The new administration needs to start building the society of knowledge. That knowledge will be the decisive force in self-determination. The administration should allocate some of its budget for Lebanese creativity and the future; it should issue bonds to be sold in the homeland and abroad to be invested in this creativity and future, and should set up a specialized and independent department for this purpose. The money would also be spent on making available opportunities for training for every child, whether of a poor or rich family, so that this generation, which seeks both knowledge and awakening and is aware of its responsibilities, should benefit itself, its people and homeland, by this generation’s repayment of the funds that were spent on its education from the surplus of its remarkable production generated from all the scientific, practical and productive aspects in the homeland and the rest of the world.
The human dimension – in addition to our achievements in the various fields – is the appropriate solution for the urgent and problematic questions in order to get rid of fear of the future and of a bleak fate. This solution would also be provided by investing in the young Lebanese capability and knowledgeable human resources armed with experience and science. There are thousands of dimensions for the future that are inherent in our people, that are not borne in mind and that we should tap, both in ourselves and in our land.
No group and no sect in Lebanon, no matter how strong and effective they might be, can alone save Lebanon. This group can increase its fragmentation and complexity, except a comprehensive group that makes all the groups’ one society that is aware of its responsibilities. If Lebanon and the Lebanese fail to grasp this truth, then its and their fate will be bleak.
What an individual cannot achieve would be complimented by a society in a homeland governed by a collective ruler who places the interest of the homeland on top of every other interest and every other goal, in contrast to the rule of the individual ruler. The ruler who represents society must be the utmost goal of Lebanon and the aspiration of each state that seeks success today.
Among the land’s dimensions lies the issue of water. It is difficult for Lebanon’s extraordinary people to identify these dimensions unless full opportunities are made available to them. For the Holy Quran, water is the source of life. In the Song of Songs, which is attributed to Solomon, he likened his bride from Lebanon to a spring, gardens, well of living water and streams.
“Streams” and “Water from Lebanon” are phrases that are written on every bottle of water; water from Lebanon is sold in the East and the West as medicine.
Natural gas is being depleted. Oil wells will dry up one day. Search for other sources of energy is underway. Minerals that are extracted are diminishing and, ultimately, they will be depleted.
From times immemorial, only water is in surplus; there are no other alternatives to water. Water constantly gives life to whatever and whoever is on earth. We have plenty of water but need to know how to manage it, at less cost; its price is higher than that of oil and other minerals. Every drop of water that springs from the earth, that runs in the depth of the earth and that falls from the sky on the Lebanese land should be stored. For that, there is a need for a new, conscious, organized, faithful and ambitious mentality before which the doors of goodness open, and thus our homeland will enjoy the riches that it deserves. This way such riches do not go to the sea or somebody else.
The Lebanon of tomorrow will not be contented with less than that. It is high time for those who have already had the opportunity to rule for a long time to step aside for those new and qualified people who have insightful views that are supported with the knowledge and expertise necessary for every extraordinary creator in this new time that is full of new challenges. Developed knowledge, according to the new sciences, remains the most effective weapon that cannot be corroded. Developed knowledge is the most effective superior weapon that cannot be defeated today or tomorrow.
It is high time for us to eat what we plant, to drink what we squeeze, and to wear what we weave. Let us start to lay the foundation of a coherent building; to stand before a castle in the face of the covetous nations; and to proceed as strong people in the procession of life under the rays of the sun, because the so-called United Nations stresses the laws of the strong, despises the right of the weak, and does not hold to account the state that claims that it is the making of God on earth, because this UN itself is an obedient tool in the hands of the Big Powers.
Brother Lebanese, after we finish building the homeland together – I wanted to go beyond the boundaries of geography while I have something to offer and you are not bound like me to go beyond the boundaries, nor I would be bound with you to stay in the homeland – we would be left with the mere choice to stay or to go. We depart, and we continue defending the one land against whoever may be the aggressor. If we are not united by history, we have the unity of culture and of fate. Lebanon has a leading role in this unity.
Let us begin by writing the first word of the book of our new tomorrow – the tomorrow of our children. Let us remember that we need to save more than we spend; to produce more; to discover our potential that the traditional mentality cannot see.
Our politicians, administrators and those who are custodians over our life and over the future of our children, are engaged in imitation, eating the bread of tomorrow, the seeds of the homeland, increasing its debt and liabilities, until someone comes in the future to repay this debt.
O Lebanese, we are here and you are there. With our pains and health, with our backwardness and progress, with our courage and fears, with our ability and inability, with our despair and ambition, with our defeats and victories, we all are together, combining those who made and did not make mistakes, those who in cold or warm blood committed sins. Our sins are forgiven. We all belong to one homeland with one fate. Let us turn the page of yesterday; let us be reborn one day when we stand in the full glare of day to receive a new life, that we make for it its water, air, sun and moon; thus, this life will bless us under the shadow of freedom, democracy, justice and equality. I don’t want my homeland for myself; it belongs to all of us, and we belong to it all, as the poem goes:
“We are all for the homeland,
for reaching high, for the banner.”
Whoever asked everything for himself lost everything. Let truth reveal itself; then, we shall forgive and be forgiven. It is unavoidable that truth be revealed, no matter how much time it takes, and at what price.
Finally, peace be upon you, my brother residing in Lebanon. Peace be upon all the martyrs of the homeland, martyrs of May 6 and July 8. A thousand peaces upon the souls of those who did or did not tremble facing the guns that led to their falling in the war for the survival of sectarianism and for the continued influence of foreigners in Lebanon.
Peace be upon the martyrs of the resistance. Peace be upon those who fought against us and killed us, and who then changed, seeking to replace peace with the dream of a big state, thus paying a high price.
Peace be upon the peoples of the region that want peace. Peace is a distant and beautiful dream which is difficult to attain; its price is exorbitant; it does not come about easily.
That is what must be done for the sake of the Lebanon we are awaiting, as I see it; as seen by one living away from home. This is, in my view, the document of the new State of Lebanon, the State of science and work in the shadow of democracy, freedom, justice and equal opportunities for all the citizens as represented in the truth of the human being and society.
Lebanon is a message and a dream. The message stays; the dream does not die; “you are going to witness the greatest victory for the greatest patience in history.”
Youssef Abdul -samad
This article expresses the views of the author only. Its views and propositions bind only its author. They do not represent any institution.