I woke up to a beautiful morning. My sweet Toot (cat) woke me up at 5.05 am. Typically, my alarm rings at 5 am, but last night I forgot to set it. Well, Toot gave me 5 extra minutes of sleep and then gently nudged me awake by sitting on my chest and purring. Purr. Purr. So, it was a sweet start to the day.
On the way to work, the security service stationed on the street, an easy-going young guy who I talk to every morning, stopped me on a “flying checkpoint” just to tell me – yet again – that it is raining, and that thus I should drive slowly to work. So, it was a sweet gesture, a simple way of saying “hey, share your smiles and take care of yourself”
Six o’clock in the morning is a beautiful time of day in Beirut. The city is just awakening. The few people driving haven’t yet worked themselves to a state of impatience and horn-beeping. (We actually stop at red lights at this hour and no one complains.)
The rain was gentle – and though there was no rainbow this morning – the memory of the many previous rainbows was there to tease.
So, it was a beautiful morning.
And I needed that beauty to give me patience when I read the latest slogan by the Kataeb Party. Announcing their annual meeting and announcing their commemoration of Pierre Jemayel’s death, they wrote: “Love your country? Don’t love any other country.”
What kind of love are they espousing?
Earlier, Pierre Jemayel, when he was Minister of Industry, espoused “Love you country? Love its products.” That was a great slogan, and it made clear sense – on both economic and environmental ground.
But to love Lebanon, we must not love any other country?
What does that mean? How would that reflect in our actions, in our thoughts? What kind of love would that become?
Let’s take an example.
To love our family, must we not love any other family?
If we disregarded other families, what kind of family would we have? An isolationist family. A scared family. A family that disregards its neighbors. A family that builds only opportunistic ties. What kind of children would we raise? What message would we be giving them? When they ask about our own family ties, do we tell the children that our family was born divinely, by the grace of god, and thus has no relations with other families? (and if we believe that, then do we tell them our family has it own god, since possibly other families would be telling their children the same story? You see, people tend to imitate each other.)
And how would that apply itself toward the society then? If our divinely-annointed family becomes financially secure, do we then work to limit public education – since, why should we pay for those services that will help *other* families that we’ve been not to love (since if we love them then we can’t love our own)? do we work to limit public health care? why should we pay for public hospitals for the others when, hell, we can afford to pay cash at the AUH whenever we so desire? how would that impact our regard to all other issues in this society that, damn, we’re forced to share with those other families we don’t love?
but, you may say, ah, Rania, you’re exaggerating. the Kataeb weren’t talking of families but of countries.
ah, but what are countries? especially our countries here, in this region? take Israel out of the equation – for one (sweetly beautiful) moment, let’s pretend Palestine is not occupied – not in the least — how are the families in Lebanon, then, separate from the families in Syria? or Palestine?
And, should we impose one set of values between countries, and another set of values between families? Should we have one set of human rights we preach for those we love, and another set of human rights we ignore for all those others?
And, if we are not to love other countries, must we hate them all equally? Must we be completely indifferent to them?
How would such a love translate itself nationally?
What kind of a world would we building?
And, why, why, does love have to be so exclusive? What kind of love is it that demands exclusivity?
What kind of a country do we have when we cut it from its history, cut it from consistent values, demand that it apply itself only opportunistically, and demand that we regard ourselves as so damn exclusive?
ah, wait. we’ll end up with the country we currently.