And so, we are faced with the prospect of a war through which we retrieve our wealth and die. We could die without retrieving our wealth. We could die and others could retrieve the wealth. And we could die without there being any wealth to be retrieved.
In all cases, the specter of generalized death looms in Lebanon. With every sunrise, Hezbollah, through its top brass and talking heads, warns us that this is a very real and serious, indeed likely, prospect.
True, the contradictions commanding the lives of the Lebanese are infinite - economic and political as well as cultural and ethical. Nonetheless, in the face of the prospect of war, confronting generalized death becomes the mother of all contradictions that must be confronted, influencing and shaping all the others.
Let us imagine that we reformed our politics and economy, controlled pollution, achieved gender justice, developed the labor laws governing foreign workers, and then plunged into, or were plunged into, a war!
We know, with a swift reexamination of our modern history, that our sense of total powerlessness in the face of wars was established by two instances in which we were lax in confronting it.
After 2000, because of the Lebanese-Syrian security regime, those who had wanted to disarm Hezbollah were defeated. As for the result, it is that we were made to remain in an endless conflict because its objectives are ambiguous, and its decisions are in distant hands.
After that, with the Syrian revolution that later became a war, we were lax again. This time, our laxity was in deterring the Lebanese who had intervened and made several false claims about why they had gotten involved, ranging from the need to protect the Sayyeda Zeinab shrine to keeping the gates of the country closed to ISIS. Unfortunately, many believed these rumors; rather, they defended them with enthusiasm.
Naturally, these two instances of laxity can be explained. Some of the factors have to do with political authority, others with the domestic balance of military power, in addition to regional factors and pressures.
However, two degenerations activated these factors and reinforced them: the first time, it became apparent that we had not learned the lesson of the war that exploded in the mid-1970s after omens - the most pivotal of which was the transformation of the country into a battlefield - had begun appearing in the late 1960s.
Hezbollah thus maintained its arsenal in what was perpetuation of that theory, which was not foreign to an old body of literature and convictions prevalent throughout the region about confronting Israel regardless of the costs.
The second time, this degeneration in the majoritarian consciousness of the Sunnis was met with degeneration in the minoritarian consciousness of the Christians, taking the form of complicity in Hezbollah’s war against the majority of the Syrian people.
If theories about resisting imperialism, Zionism, and devils of every kind were at the forefront the first time, theories about an alliance of minorities and countering Sunni Islam, which was presented as countering Islamic extremism, were at the forefront the second time.
The fact is that the militarism that dragged us into wars that branched out into other even more horrifying wars was behind the implosions of our modern history.
This kind of “glory” was not achieved by the disputes between the Lebanese - which have always been there - about economic disparities, development, equity between the sects, cultural or generational issues, and others.
If we had been able to build some immunity and develop some form of consensus against militarism that crosses borders, all borders, in 1969 as in 2000 and 2013, we would not have seen the worst and darkest chapters of our history.
This is enough reason to say that opposing war and militarism are not a sectarian matter that forces for change can avoid or leap over. Indeed, it is a national issue at the forefront of any potential for positive change and a requisite for it.
There is no room for neutrality here; otherwise, we would be adding to the times we had been excessively lax and another episode of generalized death to the history of mass death in Lebanon.
Confronting the potential eruption of this war is perhaps searching for forms to take, and some among us may be looking to crystalize them. However, there is no doubt that the war against the Syrians residing in Lebanon is the most degenerate of those forms and the most cowardly.
More precisely, it is a falsification of the actual challenges facing the country and the threats they pose that chooses to run away from them. This is patently obvious in the escalating campaign backed by politicians, media outlets, and religious figures who suggest that it is the Syrians in Lebanon who threaten the brilliant economic, social, and political success that country has achieved!
We know that the blend of an economic crisis, broad sense of hopelessness, and a narrow, parochial consciousness is enough to elicit such revolting reactions. We have an abundance of all three today.
However, knowledge alone is not enough, especially since being satisfied with dead knowledge could coexist with all this ignorance about the real source of the danger and an even greater readiness to replace it with another alleged source.
The danger is not here. It is not in a few loaves of bread Syrians have obtained or in some of them breaking the curfew imposed on those who reside in towns ruled by ignorant municipalities.
The danger lies over there, where lie the missiles and the rhetoric about missiles, regional strategies, and a sacred cause that does not even promise to pray for us after we die, nor of another world that follows our forced expulsion from this planet.
By Hazem Saghieh