"Revelations on Pain"
By: General Michel Aoun
(Translated by: Elias Bejjani)
17 April 1998

Christians all around the world commemorated the suffering of Jesus Christ's last week, the pain and agony he experienced which culminated in his death on the cross. These days were few but rich in lessons and parables for people experiencing the tragedy that has befallen Lebanon. The images of people chanting joyfully on Palm Sunday, then fearfully hushing their voices on the second day, and calling for the crucification of Jesus. . .the "doubting Thomas" and the frightened Peter--all are models of human behavior quite applicable to the people of Lebanon today. The Lebanese people are actually living and experiencing these different human portaits on a daily basis under the foreign occupation of their country.

Judas the Iscariot surrendered to temptation, sold Jesus for thirty pieces of silver and culminated his betrayal by kissing the master on the cheek. How many traitors these days sell the master, the country and the land for an offer of thirty pieces of silver? How many traitors have succumbed to the temptations of fame, power, sex, jealousy and hatred?

Peter was overwhelmed by fear at the courtyard of the High priest, where Jesus was on public trial. He denied three times that he knew Jesus. His denial took place twice in presence of the two servant girls, and once when he said to the guards and bystanders who were warming themselves around a fire at the main gate of the court, "I dont know Jesus".

How many of us, due to fear and lack of faith, refuse to witness for the truth and betray our country? How many act irresponsibly and take cowardly stances in our everyday lives, fostering anxiety, tension and fear among the public? Our streets and homes are crowded with these human different role models who submit to fear and are preoccupied with misguided religious and moral concepts.

Jesus had to ask the "Doubting Thomas" to touch and feel his crucification wounds, so he could be a believer and reprimanded his disciples for their lack of faith and hard heartedness. How many "Doubting Thomases" live among us, preaching defeatism and subservience, discouraging initiative, and fostering "the no chance approach" in any struggle for changing the current imposed status quo? Those who are not brave enough to pursue change in their lives by taking a clear stand shall always be slaves. The doubtful lack courage, and without courage, no initiatives for change can take place.

We know that Judas the traitor walked the path of despair until he committed suicide by hanging himself. This is the natural end for all traitors. Peter, on the other hand, was able to overcome his fear. He wept, repented, struggled, established his church and sacrificed his earthy life on Jesus' altar. He was crucified upside down to join the first martyrs in Christianity. Many others like Peter were able to defeat their doubts, take clear, brave stances, proclaim their faith with no fear, struggle with faith and establish their churches.

You, dear fellow Lebanese, must know it is time to conquer your fears and doubts like Peter. It is time to take a clear stand and proclaim openly your beliefs. It is time to start the national struggle for the resurrection of our free, democratic, pluralistic, peaceful Lebanon . . . a Lebanon that even the gates of Hell shall not vanquish.