What is more troublesome: the famous actor Gerard Depardieu giving up his French nationality to evade paying taxes, or millions of Lebanese people seeking to obtain another citizenship mainly because the Lebanese citizenship has degraded in value, reputation and competitive advantage. Is it that the Lebanese citizenship no longer provides the least benefits of loyalty, citizenship, good reputation protection and added value?!
Can we consider acquiring another nationality, or in some cases holding dual nationalities in “a declaration of divorce” from the Lebanese state, its symbols and its institutions?
Or can we hold a vote of “non-confidence” against “the traders of politics” who became experts in wasting opportunities and disappointing people and increasing the national debt and causing human tragedies and financial losses, a generation after another?
Is immigration really the fate of Lebanese people and their destiny, to incarnate the saying “work outside and spend inside” as if Lebanon became a place for spending our income instead of being an income generator? Or is it a geographic spot to produce ready-to-export brains, and young men and women? And finally, is it acceptable that key officials boast their dual citizenships and their bank accounts in foreign currencies, as their old mentality, and their multiple foreign loyalties, their retardation and incapacity, and their illegal enrichment….are not enough to distance the Lebanese from them, to the point of despair, disgust and immigration?
Citizens and their dreams
What a Lebanese citizen is looking for, without big ambitions and high expectations, is to be respected as a human being, and receive his rights, enjoy private and public liberties, fair and independent judiciary, to be active and proactive in his homeland, feel law enforcement. A citizen needs to see a sense of responsibility among the country’s leaders, with the right to question them and hold them accountable. And to feel that his life, health, and time have some value!
A Lebanese citizen is looking for job opportunities for him to be productive and contribute in the economic and business cycles. He wants to be able to establish a family, get decent housing, enjoy healthcare and public services, coupled with his ability to save and live in dignity and have enough for his retirement… All this, regardless of any sectarian or religious or regional or familial affiliation, regardless of the amount of his wealth or his electoral impact! What a Lebanese citizen is looking for, is to belong to a country that embraces him, protects his interests and incarnates his dreams and his hopes, decreases his fear from the future and spares him from useless bloody and cyclical wars… he wants a state that encourages the individual initiative, praises excellence and culture and the importance of productive work, rewards innovation, talents and success… a modern state, loyal to its “mission” and the sacrifice of its citizen. What the Lebanese is looking for is a national identity that spares him the quest for another nationality.
*This article was first published in Lebanon’s An-Nahar on Jan. 11, 2013. Link: http://newspaper.annahar.com/article.php?t=makalat&p=26&d=24959
Mazen Hayek is a MarComms & Media practitioner in MENA; weekly op-ed columnist in "An-Nahar" Lebanon, he can be followed on Twitter: @HayekMG