Christian Unity Now
by Hanna Samir Kassab
Everyone knows the biblical saying from the Gospel of Mark: "A House divided against itself cannot stand". This proverb has a Spiritual meaning that should not be corrupted by worldly interpretation. However, currently the Christians in Lebanon are dangerously divided. This division threatens their political power and weakens their overall political presence and identity. Without a unified house, the Christians in Lebanon will remain weak, as others will determine their future. Since the death of Rafik Hariri, there has been a trend to demoralize and divide Christian political powers in Lebanon. This has been done through assassination, political division and destruction of Christian Lebanese identity.
1) Assassination: There have been many assassinations and assassination attempts on Christian figures, many from the Kataeb party a historically strong representative for Christian interests, (not to mention others from March 14). In order to weaken the certain political agenda, one must target those forwarding those ideals, the Christian political intelligencia in order to silence them once and for all. With no one to protect a certain belief, the belief itself dies.
2) Political Divisions: Christians in Lebanon are now jokingly known as Sunni Christians or Shi'a Christians, depending on their political affiliations. This makes Christians out to be baggage: carried around by greater powers in the country.
3) Christian Identity: The dangerous issue currently being discussed is Secularism. The introduction of Secularism and the eradication of Sectarianism will erase the Christian Lebanese Identity which has been preserved since the Arab invasions of old. Hezbollah is using a Western understanding of democracy to forward its own agenda and undermine Christian authority and identity. Secularism is a purely European ideal. It is foreign to what it means to be Lebanese.
1) The acts of violence that rage against those who support a free Lebanon. We cannot bring back Pierre Amin Gemayel, Samir Kassir, Gibran Tueni, Antoine Ghanem…the list goes on. We can only remember what they stood for and follow in their footsteps until the destination is reached.
2) Division exists between Christians who support Michel Aoun and those who support Amin Gemayel and Samir Geagea. The majority of Christians were united against the Syrian occupation and the rift began as soon as Aoun showed up. Does Aoun have the best interest of a strong, free and independent Lebanon at heart? Many groups have different ideas for Lebanon, so the questions become: Who are his domestic and international allies? What do they want? Why? Is this what I want? If Christians allow themselves to become baggage, others will decide their future.
3) The National Pact of Lebanon protects every sect in Lebanon. It is essential for each group to enter dialogue with the whole in order for its interests to be represented and a government to be formed. Interstate negotiation is thus a way of life. Changing the political system erases exactly what it means to live in peace with your Muslim brothers. The words of Pierre Gemayel ring true today. In a speech declaring his demands for a united Lebanese state as it currently was, after the outbreak of the Civil War in 1975, Gemayel said “I hope that you [Lebanese Muslims] will be today as you were in the forties when you decided to build with your Christian Brothers a nation that is not like all other countries…that an ideal nation, that Islam, Christianity and Arabism and all of humanity so desperately need…so declare [your allegiance to an independent Lebanon] as you declare your faith in God daily, and you will receive gratitude from the Christians all the gratitude, love and loyalty” (Khater, 2004 p.292).
The beautiful thing about the Lebanese government apparatus is that all 18
religious sects are represented in the government. This makes it the most
democratic nation in the world. Compare this to secular France where the niqab
is now illegal to wear in government areas; to Switzerland where Minarets are
outlawed. Is this democratic? With this in mind, Sectarianism based on
“gratitude, love and loyalty” in the spirit of brotherhood and cooperation is a
system to be embraced. This is in the best interest of Christians and other
sects in the Middle East surrounded by religious based governments.
Sun Tzu, the Chinese Sage who wrote “The Art of War” states that in order to win any struggle, an army must remain unified. Any army divided will eventually be overtaken. Christian influence in Lebanon is under threat from the three forces described here. Christians should see the bigger picture rather than be split amongst personalities to forward their needs in a way that corresponds to their identity. We have a duty to commune together as a family, not just with our fellow brothers and sister in Christ, but with all humanity. We must be like a City on a Hill, shining our light for all to see. We must be Christians through and through, not just in name, but in deed.