Reflections From A Revolution: Unsettled in Lebanon

By: Maya Yafi, PR & Communications Specialist

I have been living in Lebanon my whole life. Yet at many times I felt like I did not belong. When I applied to join Unsettled, I was at a point where I felt that my life had been stagnant. 

I needed a change of scenery, of lifestyle, of my community. I needed to be around people I could connect with, which could help me reshape my future. 

Three weeks ago, I realized that I wasn’t the only one seeking this change. What I was feeling was a reflection of my country, Lebanon. This small yet diverse country has been ruled by the same political elites since I was born. Corruption, violation of human rights, and sectarianism were the government’s “achievements” I grew up on.

On the 17th of October 2019, the Lebanese people decided to “unsettle” this situation. Over 2 million people from all social classes, and different sects, took to the streets, from the Northern to the Southern borders, uniting like never before in one of the most peaceful and creative protests the world has ever seen. 

Since the outburst of the protests, the politicians were failing to respond to the demands on the streets. This incapacity to act and adjust the situation led to the bankruptcy of the sectarian political parties and their outdated methods to defeat the protest. These include thugs, speculations, social pressure, biased tensions, emotional blackmail, fear of economic collapse, conspiracy theories, and more.

The speeches of all major politicians or leaders who spoke since the start of the revolution were trying to suggest resolution or a quick fix of the situation. But unfortunately, once trust is broken, there is no turning back. Each attempt showed that this political class is unqualified to create improvement and are simply seeking to gain time in order to suppress the movement. The political class reached a point where they have no power over the people. 

However, what followed was some of the most beautiful moments that the country has witnessed. 

  • It is a revolution against icons.
  • Is a revolution for a reconciliation with a new emerging national identity that is not sectarian.
  • It is a revolution of solidarity. Tens of thousands of Lebanese protesters have successfully formed a human chain running from the south to the north of the country to symbolize newfound national unity.
  • It is a revolution of awareness that has also fed the agency of protestors across the country, through emerging professional unions, a spectacular student movement, and neighborhood groups.
  • It is a revolution of women empowerment.
  • It is a revolution of art.
  • It is a revolution that went viral. Our brothers and sisters and friends all over the world are protesting for a better tomorrow, for a chance to come back home and never feel the need to “escape” anymore. 
  • It is basically a revolution for all.

Music and dancing, waste recycling, free distribution of food and beverages, entrepreneurship, discussion groups and many other humanitarian forms of protesting have been witnessed. 

Love was in the air. Everyone claimed their rights in their own way; everyone’s participation helped create something new. For the first time, I felt like I belonged to a community. Almost a month later, the protests are still going. 

The revolution in Lebanon is peaceful yet fierce, confident yet fragile, national yet personal. It passionately connects people together, and spreads love, motivation, and positivity. It is empathetic to people’s suffering and proactive to their needs. It is here to listen, to discuss, and to educate. It’s also here to cry, to laugh, to chant, and to dance. It keeps moving forward despite all the difficulties and stands strong facing any obstacles. The revolution is here to provide a better future. The revolution is mother to all. 

There is no quick satisfaction, this will be a long journey and a regime as old as the Lebanese one will not go without a fight. The people are eager more than ever to rewrite their future, the future of Lebanon, its rebirth. And this is just the beginning.

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