Monday, November 16, 2015

United we stand, Divided we fall

The last few days have brought shock and sorrow to people all over the world. From Beirut to Paris to Baghdad, the wound is the same. These horrendous acts are not only attacks on these respective cities, but on humankind as a whole.

As I am writing these words, my heart aches. My heart aches for the victims and their families. My heart also aches for the sense of humanity that has been lost by some. The way certain communities are choosing to deal with the issue at stake by pointing fingers at the most vulnerable, at people who do not relate in any way to these barbaric terrorist acts and condemn them strongly, is not the solution nor will it bring our beloved ones back.

During this critical time, when they are using the strategy of “divide and conquer” we must not let them fragment our sense of brotherhood and common humanity. While some are busy blaming a religion and its 1.6 billion adherents, or even the citizens of Middle Eastern countries, we should not substitute our values of tolerance and compassion with the ones of hatred and prejudice.

The world is mourning, but we should not mourn selectively; the loss of life in Iraq, Lebanon, Syria and Kenya should outrage us the same way the one in Paris did. We need to avoid hierarchizing lives over others, and be aware of the dangerous implications it could have. Victims of these heinous attacks, wherever they are from, had families that waited for the day they would open the door and come back, aspirations and dreams that never saw the light.  

Seeing how universities in France mourn the victims with a collective minute of silence confirms one thing: we are expecting others to mourn Beirut while we didn't even make the effort of remembering our victims with a simple collective stance in universities. Keep nagging on social media about how the attacks in Beirut went unnoticed, but you know what? Our spoiled youth are to blame for this, their double standards are to blame. We always choose to point fingers at the international community and victimize ourselves on purpose. Get rid of your inferiority complex: when you start respecting the victims and remembering them, then you can ask others to do so, not the other way around.
Today, let us not be Lebanese, French or Iraqis, let us be human. Let us pray for the people who have lost their lives, but act as well. Act in the name of humanity, act in the name of justice, act to prevent these terrorists from striking again.

Let us rise above the culture of intolerance and discrimination. Let us acknowledge that these acts are not representative of the religion of Islam, this religion of peace and love of the other. “United we stand, divided we fall” is the only sentence that accurately describes the stance we should adopt. Together, we can and we will stop them.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Your vote, Your Right

Since one of the main problems our Lebanese society is facing nowadays is slow internet connection, I therefore have no choice but to complete my assignment through blogger.
I was asked to come up with an initiative concerning one major societal problem in Lebanon, one that citizen engagement could help solve. I have chosen the elections problem; the Lebanese population has been deprived from their basic right of voting for their representatives in the parliament since 2013. Elections were supposed to take place that year and the parliament renewed for itself twice, stating that the next elections will be held in 2017, which is two years from now. So far, few have taken action against this violation of human rights. Approximately 40 people went to the streets only, which is very few in order to drive positive change. The initiative that could take place could start by a coalition of civil society and NGOs, who will try to make the voices of the citizens be heard by putting pressure on governments through peaceful protests, sit-ins, petitions, since there is no formal court where the human rights infringers could be brought into account. Perhaps it would be a positive incentive and motivation for all frustrated citizens to join forces with civil society and go the streets to demand that their rights be restored.

The key planners would be members of NGOs and civil society, intellectuals from all fields of work, going from social work to engineering to law, because unity is strength; by joining hands to overcome this unconstitutional decision, through constructive dialogue and experience sharing, they will be able to raise awareness in people over their rights as citizens and members of the society in an all-encompassing way, tackling all aspects of the matter, from administration to logistics. Target audience are all people who have the right to vote, and therefore are immediately affected by the problem. Recruitment will be for everyone who is not politically affiliated, and the reason is that politically affiliated people are in favor of the extension to their leaders in the parliament. Any person that complies with these two criterion, and who is dedicated to serving the public good are welcome to join, whether employed or unemployed, rich or poor, so that everyone can feel involved because it affects all of us. The initiative could partner with media, social media users, and international organizations whose duties are to watch over human rights such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch.

Techniques and tools to be used in the initiative will be a combination of social media, which are viral platforms, fast and affordable that could spread our mission and actions and mobilize people with its effectiveness. Examples are Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, increasingly popular among the Lebanese population of all ages. Other conventional tools could be newspapers, common among people who cannot afford internet or smartphones, or even TVs and radios, because they are able to deliver the message even to the most vulnerable. The combination of these tools would be able to spread awareness to all classes of society, and perhaps spark in them the will to change and overcome the unconstitutional decisions, something they might have thought about but never occurred to them that action could be taken in this corrupt country. The initiative will consist of using these platforms and tools to send parts of the constitution that the offenders broke, or even call for massive peaceful protests or sit-ins to block the roads to the parliament.

The barriers our initiative could face are perhaps corruption of the leaders who could bribe people to not manifest, or even the use of force by the police facing the protesters. By having people from all fields, the initiative would be immunized on the legal aspect, with lawyers telling us how we can protest and which rules are present in order not to break them, or engineers could plan where to sit in order to create the most pressure (car traffic and so on). Opportunities could be negotiating with some politicians that are not convinced by the extension and use their expertise to overrule the decisions already made.


The only metric or indicator that could measure the success of our initiative is the organization of elections before 2017, translated by an appeal to the decision already made and overruling it. It is extremely crucial because it’s the only way to measure the effectiveness of the initiative because the demand is one; return the power to the people, by the people, through elections, to bring into account the offenders of the constitution that shapes the lives of all Lebanese. Elections are a fundamental right of each and every citizen, which should not be, in any way, taken away from them.