President of the Republic Receives Honorary Doctorate From Notre Dame University Louaize: Beware of Confusing Between Differences and Hostility, a Political Adversary is Not an Enemy But a Partner in the Homeland
08 Sep 2018
Lebanon - President of the Republic, Michel Aoun, confirmed Saturday his belief that "radical changes in societies can only be achieved by the youth, especially the students," adding that "it is necessary to prepare the generations, enrich their political culture and their ability to conduct dialogue, debate and logical argument, and develop their sense of criticism."
"Beware of confusing between differences and hostility, for a political adversary is not an enemy but a partner in the nation," said Aoun, adding that political competition and opinion differences are healthy and necessary for democratic life.
The President hoped that with the near birth of a new government, a new phase of work and serious national production would begin so as to overcome the past political and economic burdens and catch up with modernity.
He stressed that investment in education is one of the richest investments, because it provides the country with a wealth of young minds, with all their dreams and rebellions, that are Lebanon's promising future. He called on the Lebanese universities to keep pace with the steps of economic advancement by adapting their specialties to the labor market's needs.
The President's words came in his speech at the ceremony held by "Notre Dame University - Louaize" at its Bechara Al-Rahi Auditorium on its Zouk Mosbeh Campus marking its foundation anniversary.
The University honored President Aoun by awarding him an honorary Doctorate degree in Humanities in recognition of his national path and achievements.
The ceremony was also an opportunity to launch a national community initiative on the dangers of "online and technology addiction".
Below is the President of the Republic's detailed speech:
"The fact that an institution is founded while the country is going through a widespread crisis at different security, political and economic levels shows that its leaders believe in this country and in its resurrection. And the fact that this institution is a university campus shows a greater belief, not only in the resurrection of the nation, but also in the role of young people and the need to rely on future generations.
The foundation of Notre Dame University - Louaize in 1987, the year of worrying expectations, is merely the embodiment of this belief that has led to the graduation of students who have enriched the country in various fields. We congratulate and wish their university further progress and development.
Investment in education is indeed one of the best investments especially that it equips the nation with a sustainable wealth that grows every year, unaffected by crises and the meanders of time; a wealth of young brains driven by their dreams, courage and rebellion, which constitutes the promising future of Lebanon.
In today's ceremony, we highlight the importance of "awareness about the dangers of Internet and Technology Addiction", given that this addiction has become endemic in many household with obvious repercussions in our society.
Addiction itself is dangerous, in all its forms: smoking, drugs, gambling, Internet ... since it paralyzes the will and enslaves mankind. You are free as long as you are able to choose, to say yes or no. However, when you are trapped in dependence, you lose, somehow, your freedom.
It is true that Internet has marked a major revolution in the world of knowledge and technology, opened wide horizons to new worlds and facilitated access to information. Nevertheless, some of its applications and websites take up a great deal of our time, attention and interaction, and sometimes break several ties with reality, which in itself represents a pressing threat to our societies. As such, suggesting solutions would undoubtedly be one of the key objectives of this campaign.
Social networks have opened up spaces for people to meet, which was unthinkable in the past. However, the danger lies in the fact that virtual communication replaces real communication between people and that human relationships lose their meaning and depth.
The greatest danger is the lack of control, the disappearance of borders, the ignorance of the concept of freedom and, unfortunately, the emergence of a moral decline that is alien to our society and our culture.
Addiction to Internet, to the screen and to the virtual world has created certain reluctance amongst young people to the real world and to dealing seriously with public affairs. Indeed, the level of political awareness and political culture has declined amidst many young people and has often been confined to fanatic and extremist quarrels, characterized by instigation and obscenity.
Against this backdrop, I have, in January 2014 addressed a message, or even a call, to all the rectors of universities in Lebanon, as they are considered to be the first laboratory to identify the opinion of others and to discuss, debate and exchange ideas between students, thus inviting them to open their conference halls to speakers of different political affiliations so that our students get accustomed to listening and discussing in a calm and civilized manner, rather than debating in the streets with batons, stones and obscene slogans, or exchanging insults and instigating on social networks, stemming from my conviction that radical changes in societies only occur through young people, especially students. It is therefore imperative to prepare future generations, to enrich their political culture, to develop their capacity for dialogue, debate, argumentation and reasoning, and to sharpen their critical thinking.
Dear young people from Lebanon,
Freedom of expression is certainly a sacred right, as are other sacred values that you must not ignore, the first being the truth which is the ceiling of freedom. When freedom of expression goes against the truth, it is no longer freedom, it becomes slander and moral attack ... There is also human dignity and reputation, which are also sacred values, and no one has the right to undermine them. Insult, obscene speech and defamation do not fit into the context of freedom of expression.
Political competition is healthy, as is the difference of opinion, both of which are necessary for democratic life. But beware of confusing difference and enmity. In fact, your political opponent is not your enemy; he is your partner and you work together to serve the interests of the nation, even if your approaches and working methods are different.
I am aware of your national jealousy mixed with anxiety about the future as the horizons are dark and the pathways of change seem blocked. However, I want to remind you that you are the real power of change, hence, do not give up on that role. I also promise you, from my position of responsibility, to spare no effort to unify the efforts of political leaders in order to deal with the corruption that undermines all the foundations of the nation and to reach a national consensus for an economic recovery that will offer you additional job opportunities. At the commencement of the next government, which we hope will be formed soon, we will begin a new phase of serious work and action at the national level to rid ourselves of the political and economic burden of the past and to catch up with modernity.
On that note, I greatly count on Lebanese universities to accompany the stages of economic development, adapting their curricula to the needs of the labor market, in order to avoid the graduation of unemployed who would not have any other choice but to emigrate.
In conclusion, I would like to thank the Notre Dame University - Louaize for giving me the honor and express my deep appreciation for its initiative in launching this awareness-raising campaign on the dangers of this new addiction, hoping that it would be fruitful, that our society becomes aware of this imminent danger, and that our society assumes all its responsibilities to put an end to it.
Long live Lebanon!"