As someone born by the end of the Lebanese civil war, I should consider myself lucky to not to have witnessed any of the brutality that took place back in those days. Yet, this is not exactly my take on things. It is enough for me to take a walk in my neighborhood, or to listen to a five-minute news bulletin on any given day to realize that this country is still far from getting over the scars of its civil war, and that I am still far from calling myself a true citizen of it.
We are still tangled up in a vicious cycle of hatred that continues to prevent us from building a solid nation. Every time one of the boys running our political scene is provoked in some manner, we are bombarded with threats of an upcoming civil war that could be even more invasive than its precedent. Taking into consideration that the Lebanese voters are the ones who have elected these boys in the first place, the possibility of verbal aggression translating into physical confrontation becomes very logical, as it has been proved on more than one occasion.
The truth of the matter is that we are all being manipulated, and it does not take much thinking to realize this fact. We are brainwashed to think that we can find no safety unless we remain sheltered within our religious clans, and that we should follow without questioning, be it the religious authorities of these clans or their political partners. We are socialized to believe that we are too weak to be able to make a difference, thus we should passively accept things as they come, making sure that the status quo is never vulnerable to real change.
However, I am dissatisfied with this situation, and I am angered about my own marginalization in it, as I am sure many are too. It saddens me to see that we are further drowning in our despair, and it breaks my heart to see twenty-something people, especially women, so committed to the ideas of certain political groups that they refuse to see that their relation with their state and its representatives is nothing short of abusive. This is why I, as a twenty-something Lebanese woman, choose to take part in another war, that differs from the meaningless war this country has lived through and continues to be on the verge of.
Contrary to the habit of carrying guns, knives, or sticks, and of course the famous tire burning rituals of traditional Lebanese gangsters, I am opting out for a war that is both human and environmentally friendly. While conventional war is largely driven by a male mentality and power that uses violence as its primary tool– a tool that never spares the lives of innocent bystanders, this war uses different tools and does not require destroying people or their lives to succeed.
This war requires people to view themselves as powerful agents of change, and it is powered by men and women who want to free themselves from the discriminative values embedded in their thinking, hoping to aspire others to do the same. This war views every person as important, and rebels against the dullness of conforming to group mobilization schemes. In addition, this war targets ignorance and misconceptions, and it seeks to build a nation on the basis of social justice and real democracy that respects the rights of all citizens.
Taking part in this war is not an easy task, for it is hard to let go of everything you grew up believing and to build a knowledge that defies all the twisted norms around you. This being said, I admit that I am yet to be immune from falling as a victim to my own prejudices, but I refuse to give up on my ability or the ability of others to turn our circumstances around. I just cannot resist the pulling force of liberation out of this humiliating state when this war will prevail, and I know that it is enough to keep me going strong, and to rise again when I fall. Who knows? maybe one day I will be able to consider myself lucky to be born in Lebanon.