CNN has posted a report on smoking in Lebanon. What struck me in particular were the comments made by several Lebanese who are proud to harm their health and the health of others in the name of "freedom."
The use of the word freedom reminded me of small D democracy, power of the people. Lebanon votes, yes, but Lebanese citizens often feel powerless in the system, and that's where this idea of "freedom" comes from. However, true democracy is not just ballot boxes. True democracy is about institutions centered around the rule of law. If Lebanon wants to be a democracy, a change in the "freedom" attitude that defies laws and rules is necessary. Real freedom is not having to worry about when the next war is going to come, not whether you can smoke (and endanger the health of others) or not.
Democracy is also citizen action. Dr. Georges Saade is a good example of democracy in action as he works to better the lives of all Lebanese. Civil society groups like Rotary Club Lebanon are also working to make Lebanon a healthier place to live and breathe. In the end, the people of Lebanon are the ones who will bring about change and make Lebanon a truly free society. It starts with the little things, like respecting those around you. But maybe that's not so little... Read more about the no smoking cause at our earlier post here.
Cathie Glover, Program Officer, Safadi USA