2009, An-Nahar, Articles

The Person Descending from Heaven / 11.04.2009

Whenever we look at ourselves from a historical perspective, we are a group of people who come from Lebanon, from the wrongs and the virtues of its children, from its aspirations, from its government with its deficiencies and failures. Some of us come with a lot of the sins of this nation and others with a little. Some of us collapse under the burden and other try to rise up. However, all inherit the country somehow, yet, few know that destinies are not inevitable and that God is the God of change as God is the God of preservation, in order that no one remains under the yoke.

What matters is that the person does not only think that he/[she] comes from the country, but that he/[she] gives something to it. What matters is that the person might believe that history is not blind. History is not a product of unending storms, rather the greatest thing about it is that it makes people whether geniuses, or saints; and if you are unable to order intelligence as you order goods, you are able to aspire about spreading the light in your surroundings, so that it might bring about change in some people. The question of the state is the same question of the human being and his/[her] deep spirituality and the integrity of his/[her] thought and ethics. Yes, the state is a construction, a philosophy, a capacity and regulations, laws, mechanisms and ministries. These all are carried out by the human being. Forming the state is not a mechanical industry, rather people work for it. Hence, countries differ according to the scientific and moral level of their people.

Surly countries differ according to the different societies, since the society reflects the moral character, the nature and the historical legacy. In this region there is the Christian ethos and the Islamic one. And in some aspects of existence and living-routs human patterns originally differ, though they come, to a great extent, close nowadays. Sociologists have noticed the difference in Europe between the Protestant community and the Catholic community, and they have observed quite a difference in ethics between these two societies, whenever they were independent of each other and not mixed.

Every society has its means for spiritual sophistication and the literature resulting from it. Maybe moral deviations have obliterated all societies, making them converge in evil, or maybe advancement has occurred in all societies, for some cultural reasons that have emerged.

Then, at the end, the state is the offspring of the people for whom it takes care and they embrace it. Thus, the question that this or that political group has brought up “which Lebanon do we want” is only a presumption. The issue of external communication, which was described as cultural direction, is bound to the state’s foreign policy. As I recall, not any of the two groups has raised the question: which Lebanon we want in its spiritual dimension, so that all our problems might be solved through spiritual whiffs that descend from above. The charges issued against this or that segment do not address [merely] matters of rights or management, or the political work, as if our concerns are looked upon from abstract angels, independent from the human inner reality.

If it would be possible to describe the Lebanese people consisting of a number of citizens, who exercise bribery or accept it, this will result in an invalid electoral law, and if some of us practice lying, what is then the benefit of transactions, reports and testimonies in the courts? The establishment of a country does not stand only on studied mechanisms and arrangement of the legal status; rather it stands upon the refinement of this people far from the structures of the state.

At the end, the question comes whether you believe in God. In case you believe, you do not lie, you do not bribe, and you do not lure a doctor to give you a false health report, and you do not ask the priest to give you a forged certificate for the baptism of your son, in order that he might benefit financially from it in the country where he lives abroad.

If we have here a morally corrupt pattern, widely spread, then political disagreements, for me, come secondary in importance. Let me here confess somewhat. When I returned from Paris [at the end of my] study, in 1952, I felt that I could not cope with the situation because of its large falsehood. And stifle [that I experienced] has aggravated especially because at my stay in Europe no one has lied to me and I have not lied.

I was appointed as an instructor at Balamand, and at that time it was a secondary school. We trained the students on honesty to the extent that we were able to leave them without an observer at the written exams. Some of the virtue is education. I have not found in Lebanon centers where the person is trained on honesty and on integrity in financial dealings.

The problem is that the East believes in God and accomplishes the prayers, but it does not consider generally that faith constrains it [or the people] by a behavior that is in harmony with this faith. Some people in the West are atheists and they behave in a way that is in harmony with faith.

 Who can educate us in order to become a clean society, and then a viable state, as they say nowadays? I am completely far from all parties, hence, I cannot know about its ability of moral education. However, supposedly it discharges some of its members when they commit a great offense which affects the reputation of the group. Further, I remember from my childhood, that the book called ‘civics’ includes ethical principles.

However, the origin of education lays in religions. I know nothing about how Muslim Imams pursue the believers, at this level. However, the Friday speech can do much if it devotes part of its word to morals. And in Islam there are great ones who know, better than I do, how to contrive the nation on this point.

I do not have a complete study on ethics-education for young Christians and adults. At a first glimpse seems to me that there is great concentration on the theological and the liturgical address at the expense of moral education. I do not deny the existence of a large number of pure ones within the Christian communities. However, I do not sense the preachers’ anger about violence and bloodshed, and their outrage concerning intolerance and the deception of accounting records. I have not heard an urgent call to honesty and purity in commercial dealings, and chastity of the tongue in political talks, sincerity toward the adversary and forgiveness of the enemy.

I remember when we were children, the priest, by whom we used to confess, would prevent us to receive the communion if we had not apologized to the one and had not forgiven those who offended us. Reconciliation was required; [good] intentions were not enough to approach the body of the Lord.

There are Arab people, I know, who do not practice cursing, insulting and filthy communication, especially blasphemy. Some of our people confuse God, God’s prophets and the sacred things with defiled talks. How could those people have discipline in any verbal or non-verbal area?

There is no space in the church for coddling and the lubrication of all restrictions. There is, rather, place for discipline, since the church is a holy nation [1Pet.2: 9], as the Bible says. The church of the fourth century was expelling from its ranks the apostate, the pagan, the murderer and the adulterer. I do not call for a return of excommunication in relation to committers of these sins. However, the mass of people which does never expel one of its ranks, whenever he/[she] is approved of great offense, according to the community, this turns to be pilling up of both good and bad ones. In other words, if you allow me to use popular saying, it would be for gentlepersons and mobsters. This is not a church.

Which Lebanon do we want? The simple answer is that we want Lebanon of the uprights, on the condition that this goodness becomes the predominant stereotype of our people. All other questions of political or economical nature would be solved, if we can, during twenty or thirty years create a new people, obedient to God. Then, the Lebanese would be descending from heaven.

Translated by Sylvie Avakian-Maamarbashi

Original Text: “الانسان النازل من السماء” –An Nahar- 11.04.2009

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