A Modest Proposal
By: Antoine Harb
There are many, who would like to believe that they know the cure for Lebanon's disease. They only recognize the symptoms of this disease and fail to acknowledge the root cause. Do you know why? Because, they refuse to admit that the root cause is "US". Yes, each and every one of us the Lebanese. We cannot agree on a common stand, common enemy, common Identity! This has to be addressed first, before we can start treating our fragile country's wounds and ailments. For the past 20 years, Lebanon has just been given painkillers and band-aids, while the disease continues to spread! We as Lebanese, don't like to admit it, but there is so much sectarian hatred in our country and in most of our hearts! This stems from each sects political views, affiliations and divergent views on “their” Lebanon.

One group wants a progressive, democratic and independent Lebanon, free from all Arab and other foreign control. They are not afraid of a peace with Israel and they want Syria out! For them, Lebanon is unique among their neighbors – an oasis in a desert. They recognize that Lebanon has a certain degree of Arabic character, but they also recognize and appreciate the European and Western character as well. Neither influence is dominant and both contribute to Lebanon's unique identity. This group also cherishes and embraces the Phoenician heritage of their beloved country.

The other group also wants a free Lebanon. But, rather than achieve this goal with dignity and democracy and communication, they believe in freedom by the gun. They are extremely paranoid and suspicious of any actions or words that do not involve threats and condemnation. To them everything is a conspiracy theory. The mere mention of the word "Israel" or "Jew" puts them on the defensive. They are afraid to let go of their Arab brethren, for that is their lifeline. This is also the reason for their nonchalant attitude towards “brotherly” Syria. They see Lebanon not as a unique oasis, but rather as a jewel belonging to the treasure hoards of Her Arab neighbors. Unfortunately, they feel threatened by the Phoenician heritage of our great country, because if they admit to it, they think that they are jeopardizing their "legitimate" claims to being Lebanese. This should not be the case!
Lebanon will cease to exist in the future if all Lebanese cannot accept that Lebanon has many faces - it is a mosaic of cultures, religions, attitudes and customs. I cannot say that you are not an Arab and you cannot say that I am not Phoenician! We all have our origins and we all have our customs. What we both can say is that we are LEBANESE. Lebanon is not Arab or Phoenician or Martian.....LEBANON is LEBANON.

In order for Lebanon and Her people to survive, we must agree upon certain fundamentals and criteria by which we should strive to identify ourselves as Lebanese and change the humiliating impression the world has of us.

1. Lebanon should be a Democratic and progressive country free from all foreign occupation.
2. Lebanon should be a tolerant country of all cultures and religions.
3. Lebanon should respect Freedom with no boundaries.
4. Lebanon should respect all Her neighbors provided that they return this same respect.
5. Lebanon should be a country synonymous with peace, a country which exhausts every democratic means of achieving peace and Her goals before resorting to military force.
6. Lebanon should not harbor terrorists and individuals with a fundamentalist nature.
7. Lebanon should not inherit the problems of those countries, which surround Her. There should be only one agenda in Lebanon - The Lebanese Agenda!
8. Lebanon should build Her military to defend Her independence and Her people.
9. Lebanon should respect and learn from Her History, because those who do not know their past have no future.

I believe that this should be the foundation for Lebanon. A foundation, which we as Lebanese should strive for and unite on. A foundation, that cannot be broken.

Long Live Free &Democratic Lebanon
Long Live Her People and Her Future