People have been protesting for more than two weeks now and the government is numb to the people’s demand. No matter what happens next, this revolution already created a series of achievements for Lebanese citizens to be proud of.
It is in those few seconds after opening your eyes and checking the news on your phone every morning for the past ten days that the truest prayers were sent. My biggest fear was waking up before dawn and realizing that the demonstrations are over, and the people full of hope went back devastated to their homes away from the streets.
People gave the current government 72 hours to come up with a list of reforms to satisfy the basic human needs of the Lebanese citizens. The list, which could have been implemented years ago, did not gain the trust of the protesters. Moreover, the government up until this hour did not set a plan to actually prove to the people that these reforms will be put into action. As the uprising reaches its eleventh day, these demonstrations have created a peak of hope in the heart of every Lebanese citizen. The failure to reach the goals will result in an unhealable, permanent bruise in the memory of every person.
People have reclaimed the streets that they all owned before the privatization of public spaces. But even if the current politicians try to silence our voice in their modern forms of dictatorship, this revolution already achieved a series of successes that made every Lebanese proud.
This revolution which began on the 17th of October is the biggest form of uprising Lebanon had ever witnessed after the civil war. Far beyond that huge number, the two million people who went down the streets managed to break all the tension that comes with the public opposition of some politicians. With the trending chants and hashtags of #kellonya3neKellon, not one politician was excluded, and the taboos that accompanied some names were once removed.
In addition, the uprising witnessed a level of social maturity and openness with the females in the lead and the outstanding environmental friendliness. The icon of the revolution is a female, the citizens standing in the front lines are females, many of the soldiers protecting the people are females, all these circulated figures reduced the patriarchy that coexisted in the minds of the people. Along with that, each and every morning, people from different ages gathered to clean up the streets and recycle trash. People are not only revolting for a better Lebanon, but they are also building in actions the Lebanon they want.
Also, we cannot deny the influence of social media on the protests. The people, united more than ever, taking off their religious and political affiliations, pressured international and local news outlets that portrayed the uprising in a negative light to readjust the focus and double-check their sources and perspectives. This common national identity that people have constructed made it clear to the world how the demonstrators wanted to be portrayed.
This revolution also created political and social awareness for people. The idea of a secular country is embedded in people’s minds, and technocracy is one of the main demands. Freedoms are being chanted and tributes to mashrou’ leila have been made. People are fighting for the rights of others.
Finally, and most importantly, the decentralization of the demonstrations was the strong thread that held it all together. Protests also started in places that are strongly politically affiliated which is a great step towards a change. Tripoli, the heart of the revolution, is now seen in an unprecedented positive light. Tripoli holds a permanent place in the heart of the revolution and its people. The protest reached the entire globe, from Oceania to Europe to Africa to America, Lebanese citizens for the first time wanted to go back to Lebanon and take part in the protests. Roles have turned and Lebanon regained its pride in the heart of the people. No matter how this ends, we broke the main chains that once stole away our freedom.
But Rome wasn’t built in a day. As much as this revolution has offered us hope for a better future, we should still have a lot of questions to ask ourselves. One of the demands would be early elections. However, if that was achieved, would people vote for new blood or would they vote for the same old faces? Let us not forget that It is the people’s fault that these politicians represent us because it is the people who voted for them. To stop that vicious circle, it will take a lot of time and political education. Sectarianism existed with the Ottoman Empire and has become an effective way for politicians to divide us again. Even if some people pretended to be independent of any political party, some felt offended when mentioning the name of certain politicians. Are we able to put a country before our political or religious affiliations? Change takes time, even though it is always good to have a starting point to build on. Furthermore, Gandhi is the father of nonviolence and peaceful protests, but even Gandhi took peaceful actions to impose his presence. We have been protesting for more than a week and the politicians have not bothered to implement any changes. How can we put more pressure on them while remaining true to our peaceful nature?