March 22nd 2013 took me back 8 years and one month to February 28th 2005.
On that day, the Lebanese Prime Minister resigned following a series of protests in what had the potential to be the biggest revolution in the history of the region (and yes, I’m watching the “Arabic Spring”). Since, the country has been thrown into an extreme chaos, its soil became a playground for multiple sectarian conflicts, its people rekindled the civil war and the revolution has died and been buried in the deepest ends of the earth.
I remember being very excited at the news and thinking this is what change looks like, all these old men have got to go and need to be replaced by new people, people who care, who have a fresh vision for a new beginning, for a future that acknowledges the civil war and moves beyond it.
For the first time ever, I was watching live the power of the people, that principle I believed in was actually happening right where I lived, in this country that was once a ground for shooting, kidnapping and death. Those same grounds that absorbed the blood of innocent civilians shot dead simply because they belonged to the wrong religion, were full of people from all religions fighting for change.
I remember, my dad being very uneasy about my enthusiasm and telling me: “do you know what it means to have no government? We’ve seen that before and it wasn’t pretty.”
I didn’t care, I believed that another world is possible and that people are capable of changing systems.
I believed in a revolution that was long awaited.
I knew what it was like to grow up in war.
I knew it wasn’t pretty for us and it certainly wasn’t pretty for all those parents who, for decades, not only had to fight shooting and bombings but also a crippled economy to provide shelter, education, food and safety to their children.
I knew that and I knew that we owe it to them, to ourselves and to our children to demand and better yet, create change.
It turns out, I knew nothing.
Within a few months, those who were away came back, those who were in prisons came out, those who died got replaced by their sons. And very quickly, it was all about a bunch of old men, the same old men; the game was still the same; the names didn’t even change.
The revolution and the long awaited change packed up and left very far without the slightest intention to come back. So did my hope for a better future and so did I.
I often look back at 2005 and think this is the story of a time when I had hope and I seriously believed that this lifelong conflict would actually come to an end, in my lifetime and even sooner than I thought. I was wrong, more wrong than I could have imagined.
As a feminist, environmentalist and an anti-war activist, I’ve since have had my fair share of protesting and quests for change. Whether it is going to be successful or not no longer sounds important. I know deep inside, I still believe in the power of the people, I still hope things will get better and I work on that basis, knowing very well this time around that I could be and will have to accept one day that I am wrong.
I also know that there is the power of evil, of greed, of religions, of weapons that do stand against the power of the people and sometimes they win.
Today, a government collapsed but in this environment where chaos reigns, nobody even notices, nobody even cares…