It’s not a secret that I would have loved for Lebanon to become secular but unfortunately, this does not seem to be the case. Instead, we see a growing interest and involvement in religion that has been caused by several factors and day after day, we see religion playing an increasingly dominant role in the political sphere. What people believe in has become politics. How people practice their religion has become politics. In short, religion equals politics.
Forcing people not to eat or drink during Ramadan is not coexisting.
Not serving alcohol so that Muslims will not get offended is not coexisting.
Banning Muslims from praying at work is not coexisting
Lebanon, we are a collection of different beliefs, customs, and traditions. These differences in views can cause conflicts between people but they can also create a fruitful harmonious diverse society.
Now I get that coexistence of religions has been a fundamental challenge across the globe and not just in Lebanon but the above mentioned examples are not how a society coexists.
Let me note, that around the country, true and fruitful coexistence do continue to take place across religious lines but rarely reach the headlines, but it is starting to seem that coexistence is the exception rather than the rule.
The media, both traditional and digital, seize upon any incidents of intolerance, discrimination, and violence… as they should. Many of these incidents are worrying and we need to deal with them.
In order to create a peaceful atmosphere where we can peacefully coexist there needs to be understanding, respect, equality and trust for each other and each others different beliefs. We need to not only live cohesively with people with other beliefs, but we need to be able to understand and live together with no divide. Reflecting on our history, I am aware that this takes a lot of work but to reach this mind-frame, we need to act now.
Let us stop focusing on what separates us and start focusing on what brings us together as a society. Day in, day out, I only hear people discuss things they disagree with, things they do not understand, things that are different, and this only creates a larger gap and distance us from each other. If we can begin to focus on the common values that are held in our beliefs and in our lifestyles, and start viewing each other as equals, we could then possibly have a culture of harmonious diversity. We can then be able to work together as a society to overcome the challenges we face today as a nation and move on to focusing on greater things.