By Joseph El-Khoury
Neutrality would be classed as a ‘Bad Word’ in the Lebanese dictionary; if Saeed Akel ever got himself to writing one. We are known as a passionate opinionated people with a fiery Mediterranean temper. A British journalist once remarked how shocked he was at the way the Lebanese displayed openly their political allegiance whether through their discourse or the use of party symbols. By not belonging to a political, religious or ideological ‘Front’ you had de facto eliminated yourself from any purposeful conversation around a table of equally self deluded ‘politicized’ Lebanese.
In fact I am not neutral. Far from it. I have held solid socio-political convictions for many years. My main deficit recently has been not to find enough common ground with any of the parties on the political scene. In a nutshell I am offered a simple choice between a Sunni-Druze-Christian alliance in tune with the
Faced with this dire choice many of my friends have indeed taken sides claiming that this was a time for priorities in what is a global conflict between democracy…and democracy. If you happen to belong to the Shiite, Sunni or Druze community then it is usually straightforward: you join your respective camps while rationalising your mostly tribal and sectarian decision through the use of meaningless academic rhetoric. If you happen to be Christian and things get complicated you resolve it by developing a mystical attraction to the not yet graduated Dr Geagea or an unhealthy obsession with the less than successful General Aoun.
The rest of us, if lucky, can aspire to be neutral in the sense of peace or environmental activists who choose to ignore the absurd but real circus happening on our screens and in our streets. Others, like, me, will vent their anger on the World Wide Web hoping for an alternative.