On the 70th anniversary of my homeland’s Independence, I wish I could tell my children tales about the heroes who brought this nation freedom and dignity. But a handful of those only exist in history books pre-dating my generation. As hard as I tried to see them as real figures, the noise of bombs was always louder and Lebanese warlords actions were stronger than any inspiration from the cold distant figures.
Over time, Lebanon was occupied by countries, militias and guerillas. To this day, its freedom and independence are hijacked daily by internal groups and external powers. Its security is constantly threatened to blow up and shatter into a million pieces killing, maiming, and scarring forever.
My moments of pride are few and far between, they are the ones made by sacrifice and mired in blood. They are moments in history where a glimmer of independence was possible. Short moments where the possibility of being free of any influence was close. Alas, each and every one of those hopeful moments ended abruptly, violently, tragically in assassination or hopeless escalation.
I have no happy independence stories to share. What I have an abundance of are heartbreaking tales of real heroes who paid with their life and their blood for the sake of our freedom and equality. Those did not make it to the history books.
How can we speak of independence in a nation divided along the lines of foreign agendas and interests? Who can claim independence where patriotism is defined in a thousand and one ways, each way claiming authenticity and calling everything else treason?
When you see independence celebration of any kind, know that this is only drama to keep your mind occupied and to distract you from the real issues plaguing this nation. Every time Independence Day is invoked, let it be a reminder that we remain an intolerant nation filled with racist people who cannot accept one another or trust one another, let alone respect or love each other.
Seventy decades of “Independence” did not bring a woman the basic right to pass her nationality to her children. We learned to enslave other people and accept the same failing politics. In seventy years we managed to have one of the worst reputations. Our name is linked to terrorism and used as synonym for division, civil war, sectarian strife and the loathed fundamentalist Iranian influence.
A real independence needs fresh players and new leaders. It requires more sweat and less blood, more cooperation and less strife; more acts of patriotism and less empty slogans.
Today, we should demand real independence from ignorance and dependency. While some celebrate the status quo of death and submission, let us reject complacency and demand real change towards a much-needed independence.
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