So, today more of this country is draped in flags than is usually the case. Today marks 70 years of Lebanon’s independence. (Yes, I’m surprised as well. Independence? Sovereign country?) Wrapping themselves up in the flag, is this slogan: Love Lebanon? Love no one else. Hmm… The original slogan was: Love Lebanon? Love its production. Now that slogan made sense: one could easily see how supporting national production could be regarded as love for the country since it may support livelihoods.
But, ‘love Lebanon and so love nobody else’? How is that idea translated into actions? What does it mean to “love no one else”? Support only Lebanese, and so ignore any problems that non-Lebanese in Lebanon, and deny the interdependence and the relationships among them? So – since domestic workers in Lebanon are non-Lebanese, then I should set aside the crimes committed against them and the fact that they are “suicided” at an average of one a week, even if their actions are a result of the behaviors of Lebanese and of the deeply problematic legislation towards domestic workers? They aren’t Lebanese, so, I should be indifferent? And I should be indifferent towards the 1.5 million (and growing) Syrian refugees in Lebanon?
Love Lebanon and only Lebanon: does that mean that I should be indifferent to the crimes and pains of others outside these (quite arbitrary) borders? So, indifference to the ongoing horrors committed against Palestinians (throughout the land of Palestine), to the violence (in all its many forms) committed against Syrians? or should I only care if and when the pains reach into Lebanon?
Love Lebanon and only Lebanon: does that mean when asked whether I want to contribute to the relief efforts for The Philippines, that I should shrug and say “no, of course not, can’t you see all the pain that *we* are going through here”?
Loving Lebanon and only Lebanon would result in the illusion that Lebanon is an island – all onto itself, self-sufficient and independent. It propagates arrogance and xenophobia and isolation. It denies the strength and beauty that comes from honest solidarity.
And it fails to understand what love means.
When we really love, love cannot be limited. Loving results in more loving, and not less.
If I am love to Lebanon, then I am to love the migratory birds that rest in Lebanon – and thus to love all the countries on those birds’ pathway. If I am to love Lebanon, then I am to dream for it to become an egalitarian society – with economic, environmental, and political justice; equality and justice are – by their very nature – grounded in being rights for all, and developing them is empowered by learning and connecting and working with others, and developing networks of solidarity.
One cannot love Lebanon and only Lebanon. That is not love.