In lebanesiate, I will try to jot down ideas and concepts related to what is happening to Lebanon based on my Multicultural theory. I will relate actions taken by politicians as well as Lebanese layperson to test the validity of my premesis. In some cases, I might elaborate on things happening around the world as well.

Privacy, West and East

This week LAK12 topic is privacy and learning analytics. Erik Duval presentation made me contemplate on some Privacy ideas.

First, you need to know that I was born in Lebanon, lived all over the world then decided to finish my professional life in Canada. So, I have that cultural mix in me where I continuously shift my values between eastern and western connotations. Something like wearing the right clothes: pajamas to sleep and T-shirt/Pants to go to work. I will call it “value attire”.

Erik asked the question: What you worry about?

Trying to reflect on a good answer made me recognize that my answer depends on the set of “value attire” I refer to.

My Eastern value attire would answer: nothing. There is nothing to hide. I lived my life sharing everything about me and I expressed my opinion freely. I had nothing to hide. Even others were not offended if we were “politically incorrect” and attacked them. Personal judgement is part of life and it never forced anybody to shunt their ideas, identity and expression.

My Western value attire would answer: I am worried that I will be considered an “alien” and lose the privilege of being a “westerner” that I  value.

This made recognize that I am forced to have two faces: the real me who wants to be open and express my feeling the way they are without worrying about my image or my identity. The me who accepts criticism and do not consider them to be politically incorrect.

The other face is the one the forces me to hide my true feeling and shut up because I still do not know what is politically correct or not.

Then it hit me: does the western culture promote privacy because people need an environment where they can be themselves on their own without anyone else judging them?

At this stage I started analyzing further with no prove: do people in the privacy of their home think differently than outside that privacy? Why and how they developed this attitude? Is it education that “programmed” students at early age to react to life in a way that they are not? using two different attire values? What they value in their own privacy is different than the values they express outside? Is this why privacy is so important? More questions than answers.

But to me, I made peace with my privacy rules: I am open and I have nothing to hide. My ideas and thoughts are to be shared with the world openly with no restrictions. And at point, if I am politically incorrect, I will look for the root cause/reasons/values that made me react in that way and eradicate it at the root so it comes out naturally in a politically correct manner without having to sugar coat it unnecessarily.

Other questions that comes to my mind:

– how much lawyer have to do with this privacy culture? Are they promoting it for their own benefit?

– I noticed that the eastern culture has far more wars among themselves than western mentality countries. Does privacy have anything to do with it?

Something Fishy

Signing of the North Agreement: Mr. Hariri, Prime Minister Saniora and Sheikh Minkara
Signing of the North Agreement: Mr. Hariri, Prime Minister Saniora and Sheikh Minkara
The North Lebanon powers signed a peace agreement. 30 years of hate and feud… now, they agreed on living in oeace. Why? Something fishy!

First: some indications.

(1) Egyptian authorities stressed that the situation in North is a cause for a civil war.
(2) Sarkozi and Ruler of Qatar criticized Syrian president, Bashar El Asad, that his comments about the instability in Northenr Lebanon are a violation to their agreement.
(3) Asad “authorized” the Lebanese army to move its strongest betallion from the south to the north.

Suddenly, Sheikh Saad El Hariri spends 3 days in the North to sign the accord. Would he be able to do it if the Syrian did not approve it? Did Sarkozi and Sheikh Hamad of Qatar push Asad to allow the peace to happen? Did Sheikh Harir know about this arm twisitng that made him choose this moment to make a move? Was Eid, the Alawite Leader, requested by Asad to sign the agreement?

Maybe. If this is the case, and since all the arms are still intact, will there be a renewal of feud in the near future?

Anyaws, the move was in the roght direction and for the good of the country. Clearly Hariri and Siniora emerged as winners… while Sheikh Monkara proved to be a sound leader… is he the next Mufti of all Lebanon?

The Bottom Line of the Conflict in Lebanon

What is happening in Lebanon? here is my theory:

First, you need to know little bit about Steven Covey’s theory of paradigm. He believes there are 3 paradigms: dependent (always rely on others), independent (rely on oneself) and interdependent (become productive by interacting with others, even those they differe with).

Lebanon struggle is a struggle between entities of the three types:

(1) Dependent: Amal, Syrian Socialists, Franjieh, Baathist are dependent. They cannot make their own decision. Always they have to follow someone else for their survival. Among them, Amal has a potential of being indepedent, but unfortunately, Berri is a fox who prefer to appear following Hezbolla/Syria because of fear.

(2) Independent: Hezbolla and FPM are independent. They truely believe they can achieve what they want without dependence on anybody. Even financially, Hezbolla can survive even if Syria and Iran stop supporting them! The problem with the independent is that they believe in “my way or the highway”. They cannot tolerate or understand those who differs with them for they have a strong conviction that their way is the only truthful way.
(3) Interdependence: The 14 of March guys have evolved to become Interdependent! If you look at all parties of 14M you will find that each one hates the guts of the other (Sunni against LF, Druze hates Sunni’s and Maronites, The democratic left hates the Future Movement capitalists! Jumayel hates Jeajea, etc…) but they decided to collaborate driving strength from their differences. This is interdependence.

In my opinion, the 1975-2000 civil war was the evolution of Lebanon from “dependent” to “independence”. The present struggle is evolving from  “depednent” to “interdependent”. If 14M prevails, Lebanon will grow in culture and history. If they lose, the evolution will be delayed.

In the same token, the US with Bush Administration is dependent. Europe is independent. Most of the Arab countries are dependent… except for UAE, where interdependence has been practiced since 1991 in Dubai, and 2005 in Abu Dhabi.

Do Arabs Learn?

Going back to learning. My definition of learning is “the process of converting information to knowledge”, where knowledge is self generated information that we personify for ourselves. Based on this, do Arabs learn?

First, little philosophy: Learning does not happen at school only. In an ideal scenario, a person should be learning continuously. It should be a natural longlife process where whenever we get exposed to an information (which could be written, an experience, an interaction with other, or otherwise) we should reflect on this information and translate it to something that relates to us thus converting it to knowledge that pertains to us. This process is learning.

Ideally, this process should happen continuously as long as we live. Weirdly enough, I notice that most religions beleive that this is the essence of death! For example, the concept of the the purgatory in Christianity is an example where suffering leads to personal change (based on my definition of learning), similarly, in Islam, the period spent by believers in suffering after death is an example of a necessary change required to move to heaven. Obviously, the concept of reincarantion aligns with the same idea where change an evolvement happens after death. religions!

One obvious outcome of learning (again, according to my definition) is change, hopefully to a better self. Whenever learning happens, something in our character changes. In my opinion, a lifelong learner is someone who changes and evolves (or devolves?) whenever he or she is exposed to an new learning experience. In such an evironment, change in any form is virtue.

However, in the Arab culture (and yother world cultures as well) this did not happen in the last 300 years! To the contrary, it is basic to the Arab culture that change is a crime. In some cases, it is a capital punishment (fro example if an Arab discovers that opening a dialogue with an Israeli is a good idea, then, in most Arab coutnries, this person is considered a traitor that might lead to death!)

— I have visitors now and have to leave… this will be continued later… sorry!-

GMA – How Do I see him Today

GMA is the internet name for General Michel Aoun… Today, I was reading about him and felt I need to write down what I felt today… I might change my mind tomorrow… which is a sign of evolution… but today, this is what I feel:

GMA is still living in the “independance” paradigm. He did not elevate to the “interdependance” level (check Steven Covey arguments.) The “independance” is much better than “dependance” but worse than “interdependance.”

GMA creates enemies with those who disagree with him even if they agree with 80% of his line of thought… he needs to evolve to make alies with enemies based on the common things they agree on…

He rejected the offerings of Junmblat and Hariri although the 3 of them agree on 90% of the principles… while he made aliances with Franjieh and Al Mur (who traditionally disagree with GMA physical presence in Lebanon) simply because they declared that they agree on all his program… Every one in Lebanon knows this is not true… How can Franjieh create a new Lebanon if he braggs about being representative of Zgharta dominion only rather than a nationalestic representative? I cannot understand it… How can Al Murr agree on Lebanese reforms if he considers Al Maten his small empire? I do not know… GMA wants to have a nation wide multisectarian representation while he aligns himself with religeously driven, small circle infleuncial players and he fights those who created alliances with different “old time enemies” from all sects, religeons and geographic locations… I cannot understand…

So, GMA is one of two things: either he is naive and he is driven by his passion (see my Triad blog) which makes other deceptiv players manipulate him or he is machiavellan who aligns himself with any one who “bluffs” him on obedience… which makes him another dictator (like his old protege Saddam)…

As of today, with Lebanon emerging into the “interdependance” dawn… (see my other weblog), I see GMA is an obstruction rather than a solution… As I said… I might change my mnd because my history with Lebanon made me change my stand point a lot…

What do you think?

The Elections

For the last few days, I was following on the elections in Lebanon. It was a thriliing experience. Seeing my fellow Lebanese going to vote… Here are some thoughts that came to my mind:

1- It is energising to find out that a new leader, Saad Al Hariri, emerged so quickly to lead a huge portion of Lebanese so swiftly… Brilliantly, he mobelized, the otherwise “politically lazy*” sunnis all over Leabanon to go and vote… At the same time, attracted the otherwise “politically cautious-to-cooperate with moslems” christinas … If you re-listen to his speeches, announcements and motivation instigations… you discover that he never used “sunni” vocabulary to agitate suni “3asabiah”… or religeous instigations… To the contrary, he even made them vote for their “all time enemies” like Lebanese Forces and Kataeb… to me, this is a dawn of a good leadership… Is it him or the advisors around him… no one knows…

2- Saad, or Sheikh Saad, has one sin: he is young, which means Lebanese politics might change him to become an “old lebanese mota3aseb”… I pray not! He has one virtue: he is young, which means if he keeps this atitude and thought line, he can take Lebanon to new levels… . Up till now, he showed more maturity than the other young Lebanese leaders who inhereted leadership from their parents (like Sleiman Franjieh, Talal Irsalan, Farid Al Khazen, Walid Junblat in his early days, Pieer Eljumail, etc…) He used the right diplomatic vocubulary, he avoided alienating the enemy, he was talking about choices and not fears, he acted swiftly when it is needed to defend his position, he retracted when retract was wisdom. Till now, it shows that he chooses his battles wisely (for example, he did not retaliate when Hezbullah did not vote for his list in Beirut!)… Is it him or his advisors… I do not know…

3- General Aoun is another story… He excels in driving my feeling from one side to the other… Once, he made me hate him (when he bombarded my neighbourhood and mercilessly killed many inncent people because he thought he is right and everybody else are wrong), at another time, he made me proud being a Lebanese (when he mobilized the Lebanese youth against the Syrians for the last 15 years!) at others, he made me feel he is disgusting when he uses wrong machiavellan tactics to reach his aims… At first, I felt he had a real nationalestic program… which I fully support… at other time, I am convinced he aims at power and he is ready to change his program just to get to the “chair.” Now, I feel he is the 70 years old little bully who fights you in the school yard simply because he wants to bully around… when he has strong buddies, he aims at the strong student… if he is on his own, he goes to the week one… and only for one reason… to release his self anger which he does not know how to release except by hurting others… Or is it Alzheimers… I do not know….

4- General Aoun has a basic problem: he thinks he knows all and there is only one truth, which is his truth… and that others are not allowed to have fears, opinions, insecurities and beliefs… this is a dangerous paradigm… this is what most dictators believe… General Aoun, although claims he believes in democracydoes not bow to democracy… when he wins the elections with 30,000 votes… he is a hero and the Lebanese can make the right choices… but when he loses the election, he accuses the 100,000 Lebanese who did not vote for him as ignorants… illiterates… driven by 3asabiah and religeon… and that his lose is victory although he allied with the enemy that his program… this reminds me of Saddam… Saddam always thought he knows the truth for his people… when he lost “the mother of all the battles” he considered himself the winner!… is there a similarity? Is this why Aoun aligned himself with Saddam in the late 80’s? Is this concidence or is it a trend? Is Aoun a “demilitarized” Saddam? I do not know…

more later…