Posted by: r.m. | November 13, 2008

more on love

the Kataeb slogan (love your country? love no other country) is still on my mind.

what does it actually mean to love one’s country?

one of my students today said he absolutely would not care if there were no more fish in the sea. literally, he wouldn’t care.  other than human beings, the only other animal he cares about is his own dog. In other words, all the other animals – in Lebanon and beyond – can go extinct, and he simply does not care. but I’m sure were we to ask him if he loves his country Lebanon, he’d say yes.

earlier, a few weeks ago, after I expressed my opinion on the dominant US political system, a colleague said ‘love it or leave it. Love the country as it is, or leave it.’  He then spoke at length that his same views apply to Lebanon and not simply the US. If one were to move to Lebanon, he said, one should either accept the system as it is and love it, or leave.

hmm…

so, what is this love?

what is love itself?

many months ago, many many months ago, a friend of mine told me clearly that I was behaving badly. I was being too irritable.  cool it, she said.  at that moment, she was also telling me she cares enough about me, about our friendship, to risk a bit of discomfort.

another dear friend of mine has been pestering me, harassing me, reminding me constantly to devote time in my life to reaching towards my dream.  her support is unbelievable.  every time she asks me if i’m writing, she’s saying also, i love you.

and there are so many other moments.

my sister-in-law spending time and attention to make sure that her son (and now she’s doing the same with her daughter (yes, i have a nephew and a niece!)) are eating healthy and not merely eating calories.  that’s love.

another friend teaching his children (adorable girl and boy, for the curious) to share their toys with their friends. that’s love.

it is so much more than simply sharing the good times together.

so, how does that love apply to a country?

what does it mean to love a country?

In Lebanon, we’re fond of saying ‘we love the land’ and ‘we’re tied to the land.’  Or – more specifically – our songs are fond of saying that.  so, loving the land… shouldn’t that entail caring for the land, caring for the soil, the plants, the birds, the animals, the air?  shouldn’t loving “bahr lubnan” entail caring for the fish, the coasts, the waters?

and, does loving one’s country entail loving the people that are also affiliated/tied to the land? and, if so, what does it mean to love the people?  shouldn’t it entail working to get social services available to all, to empower people, to work towards an egalitarian society? and shouldn’t loving the people entail also loving the children that are to come? and, if so, shouldn’t it thus entail working towards a sustainable society?

but what if our country, when we were born into it or when we immigrated to it or when we returned to it, what about if our country professed and implemented values that go counter to our own? what about if our country had a system that did not demonstrate love of the people? do we then “love it or leave it”? or do we work to change it?

i go back to those moments of love in my own life.  my friend who showed me the wrong in my actions. my friend who supported me (and still does) so that i change. my sister-in-law who takes the time — she takes the time – to provide the best. my friend-the-father who instills values in his children so that they grow to become good people, aware of the needs and desires of others and solely focused on themselves.

can we love our country like that?

and, if we do, then we can’t only love our country.


Responses

  1. Just one point about your reference to egalitarianism. It all boils down to philosophy and how one views this world. Not everyone thinks of an egalitarian society as the ideal. As a matter of fact, many consider it natural, moral and ethical to have different classes in society (I am thinking of people like Ayn Rand and her right wing followers which shamelessly include some so-called liberals like Hillary Clinton (right wing in my book)). So their definition of love is the opposite of what people like you would define it as. Many inexplicable positions in politics and economics make sense when one tries to understand what philosophy the people expressing those views hold. Another example, I personally think that humans are not special when compared to the rest of the animal kingdom. This is heresy to what the majority of people in the world believe today. Consequently, my definition of love and relationship to other parts of the universe will not be understood by most.

  2. بحبك

  3. Your article is so honest and true… What if we had a couple in this country just like you… Your love to Lebanon is so clear… you beloved ones should to you adhere…
    You do deserve so much love… and for that I will pray the lord above…

  4. If a person says i love Lebanon than they love everything thats in it and need to take care of it. This means making sure that he t5hinks of the land water and all livingthings in lebanon and how is he/she effecting them. Like politicians they say they love lebanon but they havent done anything to Lebanon that showed their love all they did was war. They dint try to make it better like how ur friend did with his kids, they didnt encourage the people like your friends, they didnt do anything at all that showed love to Lebanon so loving ones country is a hard job not just a easy word to be said.

    Sally El-Koussa
    EVSC 100


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