May 24, 2012

I don’t want to become a Christian Lebanese!

Dear Lebanese,

All of you out there!

Today I want to share with you a story, my story.

I grew-up in a pretty reserved household. My parents (like most of yours) tried to teach me everything good.  They taught me to respect everyone no matter what his religion or skin color is, no matter what nationality he held or cultural background he had.

However, my parents (like most of yours) did not act according to their own lessons. I grew up between “Hana' misilmé bass gheir! Hiyyé mazbout sinniyé bass ahla gheir.” and a “ma byenwasa2 fiyoun hole! Kill el drouz ma byenwasa2 fiyoun!" (no need to mention we are Christians, I guess you readers figured that out by now!).

Then as years passed I started developing, with no control on it, a certain differentiation between social classes, skin colors, nationalities and religions… until I was around 16 or 17.  At that age and with the internet era starting to boom, me starting to grow up and choose my own reading of articles and books, developing friendships with different nationalities and religions, I started to think in a more civilized way (mich 3ayb el wahad yi3tirif… ballashit biwa'ta sir hadariyé!).

My friends circle turned from a 100% Christian/Lebanese one to a multi-nationalities/multi-religious ones. I even read the Kur’an and asked my Muslim friends about their religion in order not to offend them with my actions; I not only embraced having friends from a different belief than mine, I wanted to work on those friendships just like any other friendship I had and that includes respecting other religions as I respect my own.

Why am I telling you all this? Well let’s put it this way! It was hard to change. When you grow-up learning one thing and decide to change it when you reach maturity, it’s hard. And to reach a point where your original instinct is edited due to your conviction it is even harder.

Today, I know that even with a Civil War around the corner nothing will make me change my way of thinking or believing or behaving. Nothing will make me drop my friends no matter where they come from and what religion they belong to.

But I also know I want badly to still be able to hang out with them without fearing my life or theirs. I want to go down to Hamra Street for a drink on Friday night while keeping the cross around my neck. I want to go to Harrissa with my veiled girlfriend. I want to teach my children that Christianity is their belief, their religion, not their identity.

I want to live my Christianity as my belief, my religion… not my identity.

I don’t want to become a Christian Lebanese. I want to remain Lebanese. That's all!


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