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A very special day was yesterday; my whole country celebrated the Independence Day. The very special thing was that it was not yesterday, but the day before, yet since we had yesterday as a holiday instead, independence felt more like yesterday.

We had a whole day to rest, go out, dive into TV all day, and of course, eat more and some very special food like that of a Sunday. We had a whole day to relax and let go all the troubling thoughts we had in our minds the day before independence. We had the luxury of sitting back and relaxing; after all, we had earned our independence after a long fight and suffering. However, I spent that day troubling myself with some thoughts unlike those who rightfully took a day off from thinking. I thought to myself, “It is really nice that we are celebrating the Independence Day, but what is independence?”

I went on asking people to know what independence meant. Not all of them knew that it was the day the French mandate officially ended back in 1943, but that was ok; not all the people I met were old enough to remember, and besides that, most of them did not like history at all. However, based on their political bias, some of them thought it was the day the Syrian army withdrew from our beloved Lebanon, and some others thought it was the day the Palestinians under Abu Ammar left Lebanon. That made no difference to me for each can celebrate the Independence Day on their own terms. However, I had been enjoying the different contradicting responses people gave me about what independence meant to them until my 11-year-old son hit me with the definition he thought was valid for it and told me what he had learned in school, “It is the day we had our freedom back.” I looked around me and I saw a lot of different independences, but no freedom at all, yet all the people I met thought we were free.

To be tied to political leaders, blindly believing anything they might say without bothering to reason anything at all, is not free. Being open only to sex and wild sex and very reserved about love and commitment, is not free at all. Saying a sentence in three languages or more at the same time with none spoken properly, is not free. Eating and drinking and living like the French or the English or some other nationality of the so-called civilized but never our own, wishing just to be living there, and for some wishing the French had ruled us once again, is not free at all. Spending all our money on what we might think would bring us happiness under the barrage of consuming more luxuries believing as they showed us that they are necessities, is not free. Having minds to be filled only with fancy cars and women, fancy clubs and diners, fancy clothes and shoes, and fancy phones and accessories, is not only not free but also stupid. Being the fuel of the consuming revolution without thinking twice about stop buying what we do not need, is not free. Being slaves to our own desires without taking note and caring for what others might feel about our taking every single advantage of them, is not free. Thinking we are the center of the whole universe and linking every bad habit we have to the legacy of the civil war giving ourselves license to think only about ourselves, is not free. Trading a dictator with another, a thief with another, and another Mafioso from the same underworld family thinking we are free to choose whomever we want by just shouting out loud in the streets before TV cameras about how badly they smell or how ugly they look or how corrupt they have become just to take a few more dollars later in return for our votes for the same motherfu***** we have been protesting against just before the elections, is not free at all. Voting for men or women to lead us just because they are from the same sect of the same religion of the same tribe we think we belong to, is not free at all.

The French Mandate has been over for a long time, longer than remembrance for some, but no my friends — I looked around and I saw no Independence at all. As long as we are still not free from the inside to think for ourselves, to speak for ourselves, and to use that gift we all have in our heads all alike, we shall never earn the right to celebrate the Independence Day.

November 24, 2015

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