On February 14, Lebanon will commemorate two years since the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. Lebanon has only known a semblance of peace a few years at a time. But even in its tragic history, not many periods have been as violent and unsettled as the last two years.

In the course of this very short period, Lebanon has known 15 targeted bombings and 9 attempts at political assassination, 6 of which succeeded and 3 that led to maiming. Interspersed were the toppling of two governments, endless demonstrations, and sit-ins. To top it all, a 34-day Israeli military aggression beginning last July led to the near-total destruction of a freshly rebuilt infrastructure and the displacement of more than a quarter of the population. Now the entire country is ripped in half in political disagreement and once again on the brink of civil war.

One wonders how that is even possible. Did we not learn anything in our bloody, 16-year civil war (1975-1990)? Have we not learned that there are no winners in civil strife, only losers that end up weeping amid the ashes? Only last week, the escalation of opposition-led demonstrations reaped a handful of deaths and over a hundred wounded.

The issues are, of course, complex, and one could enumerate many causes behind the current deadlock, all of which would incriminate most of our Lebanese politicians. (I use the term "politician" only metaphorically, since it is quite obvious that our honorable "feudal lords" have forgotten—or perhaps never learned—that political office is a calling to accountability and civil service rather than to the exercise of despotism and partisanship). But I want to turn instead to a more profound and fundamental reality, which I believe to be at ...

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