The Lebanese flag was adapted on December 7th, 1943 prior to independence from France. It was designed to be a neutral flag, not allied to any one of Lebanon’s religious groups. The flag of Lebanon consists of two red stripes at the top and at the bottom. In the middle portion of the Lebanese flag there is a white band with a fully green cedar tree. Article 5 of the Lebanese Constitution sattes: “Two red-colored bands symbolizing martyrdom, surround horizontally a white-colored band, symbol of the Lebanese snow-capped mountain peaks; in the center of the flag, the cedar tree that characterized Lebanon since its birth, serving to build temples and ships, thus inspiring immortality and tolerance. Some people tend to use the color brown when drawing the trunk of the Cedar. This is a common mistake, the Cedar tree should be drawn in green.”
These are the colors of Lebanon and their meaning according to the Lebanese Constitution.
In reality, Lebanese colors are affected by the diversity of religious sects, the religious basis of social organization and political affiliations. The Lebanese are more loyal to their political and religious leader more than to the country. They will die for that leader as well as for the country. Their willingness to stand and fight for the country differs between different groups. One party, for example will see Syria as an enemy and the opposite party sees it as an ally. Same goes to Israel and basically to every country in the world. Currently, Lebanon is divided in two clans: March 14 and March 8. Each clan has different party with different religious and political affiliations. Both clans claim that they are working for freedom of Lebanon. Yet both are pulling in different directions and each has different regional and International allies. They only common thing between both clans is stepping on Lebanon sovereignty. After the Syrian uprising started in March 2011, the division became clearer. March 8 group staunchly supports Syrian President Bashar al-Assad while March 14 group would like to see Mr. Assad overthrown. As usual, due to the division in the Lebanese society and political arena, foreign countries were able to find elements to play their dirty games. Both factions opened their doors (Lebanese borders) to send weapons, fighters, Mujahedin … to the fighting factions inside Syria. They think that they are doing a favour for Lebanon by wearing Iranians, Syrians, Saudis, Qataris, and Turkish … colors. In the name of ideology (that can change in a second) and plenty of dollars, the sovereignty of the country can be stepped upon.
What did we end up with today? A more divided country, full of weapons and on the verge of another civil war, in the name of freedom and sovereignty of Lebanon.
Freedom and sovereignty can’t be preserved:
- by building a state inside a state
- by allowing foreign fighters to enter Lebanon
- by taken orders from foreign countries
- by being financed by regional countries
- by assassination attempts
- by defending other colors than Lebanon colors
Is it time to wear our “True Colors”? Before asking this question, we need to step back and ask more fundamentals questions. What is Lebanon? Why it should be a country? What kind of Lebanon we want? What is the purpose of building a new Lebanon? Is Lebanon a viable country? Do Lebanese belong to one nation? Do Lebanese belong to one culture? Can Lebanese build a nation? Can they build a country? Can they build a country that respects its different cultures?
These questions take me back to the document “The Lebanon we want to build” issued by the Lebanese Front on the 23rd of December 1980. Thirty two years passed on that document and yet we can still adapt its text today. The introduction of the document says: “Three issues are decisively at stake today: the survival of the state of Lebanon as a free, independent and sovereign state; the survival of the society of Lebanon as a free, open and pluralist society; and the survival of the Christian community of Lebanon a free and secure, enjoying complete mastery over its own values and destiny. How to avert these three dangers is precisely what is meant by the term “the Lebanese Cause”. If the political independence of Lebanon should be overwhelmed or undermined, if its free society should be altered so as to conform to the pattern of the other societies of the Middle East, and if its Christian community should cease to be master of itself and its destiny, as it has been in the past, a major transformation in the balance of forces in the Middle East would result.”
One section of this document addressed the Lebanese society. Any change in the country future must start from its own society. The document says:
“The new society of the Lebanon we want to build shall be characterized by the following features: lofty morals; responsible freedom; truthfulness; respect for others; placing the common good above the individual good; curbing material greed; the supremacy of law; promoting community spirit and cohesiveness; social justice; enlarging the scope of social security, and the example of the leaders.”
I strongly believe that the featured stated above are the only ways to create a change in the country. The change will not come from the groups that are taking Lebanon to another civil war. We, as Lebanese, must “implant these virtues, and all that goes with them, through the family, the school, popular literature and art, the public media of information, social intercourse, and the law.”
It is up to us to start this project; no one else will do it for us. Regional and foreign countries only care about their own interests. It is only the “Lebanese hands … They can convulse the entire world if they determine to organize the vast Lebanese potential here and abroad methodically, meticulously and responsibly, without allowing a single particle of it to be dissipated.”
Didn’t we have enough of wars, division, bickering … and wearing others colors? Isn’t about time to wear our true colors? It is imperative that discussion lines should be opened among Lebanese society away from the current political parties in order to establish a way to implant these virtues in our country.