Centered on Civil Liberties & Political Issues, Human Development & Socioeconomic Matters
The events and outcomes of the 20th century had influenced and transformed human lives in most of the world, for better or worse, more than any other century. Besides peace, civil liberty and equality were the most longed for democratic values of that turbulent century.
In the Middle East, Arab people were distracted by the ongoing regional political instability, mainly by the long-drawn-out Arab-Israeli conflict, Iraq occupation, and Iranian nuclear weaponization challenge. Most Arab citizens were over-busy with their bread and butter instead of being engaged in tuning their civil society and upgrading their socioeconomic conditions.
At large, Arab people have long endured the effects of having autocratic rulers and monocratic systems. Nowadays, however, they massively rally calling for a liberal government. Today, Arabs call for a governing system that provides political and civil rights through which they can improve their socioeconomic status and have equal and unrestricted opportunities for political participation.
The concept of democracy is interpreted as a universal structure and order to enable individuals, societies, and countries to flourish and develop liberally and peacefully. Considering that democracy rests on harmonious public opinion implies that having a contented public is the best way to secure political and social cooperation between citizens and with their states.
Middle Eastern countries that really seek to establish true democratic societies have to derestrict basic freedoms such as freedom of choice, freedom of political participation, freedom of association and assembly, freedom of religion and worship, freedom of speech and press, and guarantee equal opportunities for its citizens.
In most developing countries, there are arguments about some controversial issues that are related to the compatibility of civil liberties and equality with development. The first basic dispute is over whether civil liberties should be controlled and limited to maintain social order or not. The other dispute is over whether equality means equality of income or “equality of opportunity”.
In Lebanon, to cite a mild case, the Lebanese authorities always assert that Lebanon is a democracy, not a regime. Whereas government officials and its apologists often proclaim that civil liberty and equality do not always come together because it is necessary to restrict certain civic activities to focus on the common good.
No matter what are the excuses, the fact remains that a real democratic government is legally obligated to protect all civil liberties and deliver equal opportunities to its citizens within its civil and political system. Yet, any attempt by the government to upgrade Lebanon’s civil liberties and equality settings must start with the elimination of all forms of corruption, bias, favoritism, injustice, and sectarianism from the Lebanese administration first, and then act on its political system.
These ill practices and diseases in the Lebanese political and governmental system are blocking any progress to achieve real democratic development, and hence, annul all prospects to have a better community in the near future.
The Lebanese government has to provide equal opportunities and secure access to quality public education for all Lebanese by providing equal and equivalent learning opportunities and choices to produce equal chances for its citizens, as a first pragmatic step. Hence, public educational institutions should be within reach of all Lebanese citizens, irrespective of their geographic and social backgrounds or their financial status.
Misleadingly, the government counters by arguing that the main problem facing the full realization of equal educational opportunities is merely a financial one. While in fact, it is about the absence of political will to serve the poor and middle-class citizens; since all successive governments have never incorporated in any general budget the required funding to provide private-like public education to its citizens even when Lebanon was in well-off situations.
In principle, democracy is a peaceful way to secure equality and liberty. Yet, most politicians maneuver and manipulate the concept of democracy to portray it as the goal, instead of considering it the means to deliver political freedom and human development. On the same track, they dodge the real concept of civil liberty and equality to practice their tailor-made version of democracy.
Although the political gaps between Arab citizens and their governments are quite wide; yet, these gaps can be bridged if Arab officials, politicians, and economic magnates ensure equality and civil rights to their fellow citizens.
To that end, developing countries, especially Middle Eastern countries, have no alternative but to rectify and revise their laws and regulations to accommodate their national public opinions, especially on civil liberty and equality issues; and adopt transparent reform methods of governance, before it is too late.