In the spring of 2005, the Lebanese people demonstrated their desire – and their ability – to transform a country. They mobilized for what they wanted, not what they were told to want. Were it not for the one million protestors who came out that day, we might still be under Syrian tutelage. However, since then, the momentum for sustained mass participation in public affairs has waned. The New Opinion Workshop (NOW) hopes to recapture the spirit of that unique day in 2005 and channel it towards positive change in Lebanon.
Though eager to take part in reshaping their country's future, most Lebanese are simply too busy to engage regularly in protests and sit-ins, and scouring the many newspapers one needs to read to obtain a clear picture of current affairs would be a full-time job on its own. NOW provides comprehensive coverage and analysis of key issues and news, making social and political participation a much more realistic option for many citizens.
NOW Lebanon is independent, non-sectarian, and includes members from all Lebanese political, ethnic, religious and socio-economic groups and persuasions. The single idea that is truly sacred in this forum is the pursuit of an independent, democratic, liberal and prosperous Lebanon, with equal rights and opportunities for all its citizens.
NOW Lebanon is funded entirely by the private sector and individual donations.
Despite a few bright periods ¬– a year here, a brief decade there – Lebanon has been paralyzed for most of its modern history. Progress has been stalled by wars, corruption, assassinations and bombings, obstruction of justice, constitutional violations and political deadlock. However, blame doesn't lie solely with Lebanon's leaders; we all share responsibility for having consented to playing a passive role in our nation’s affairs.
Lebanon is a crippled democracy. For the country to ever become truly democratic, its representatives must be accountable to their constituents, rather than the other way around, and all must be accountable before the constitution. The constitution is not a menu to pick and choose from. Its tenets are not there to be manipulated according to the dictates of political expediency. By the same token, the legal system is there to protect us all. When the rule of law is marginalized, abandoned or abused, we are rendered stateless.
It is unacceptable for the Lebanese to be remain voiceless, a nation of ‘refugees’ within their own borders, victims of larger domestic and external forces. The tools for addressing many of the problems facing contemporary Lebanese society already exist. We have a democratic structure at our disposal, and more importantly, we have a wealth of human capital that is readily available to us.
Today, an unprecedented number of Lebanese are waking up to the reality of their current situation. Millions, both within Lebanon and throughout the diaspora, recognize the urgency of a transformation in our national rhetoric, as well as in our political and social dynamics. However, to pull off much-needed change, this awakening requires new mechanisms. This is why NOW Lebanon was created.
The New Opinion Workshop was born of a conviction that, to be effective, action must be buttressed by a comprehensive awareness of the issues in question. NOW Lebanon aims to provide citizens with just that.
Drawing on a pool of leading academics, journalists, industry leaders and political commentators, NOW Lebanon produces a broad range of analysis, opinion and interviews. We offer insight with original reporting that examines and interprets the most relevant issues of the day. In-depth features are complimented by up-to-the-minute news coverage, as well as daily and weekly press round-ups from the Lebanese and international press. We also provide transcripts of the latest major speeches, so readers can go to the source and see who really said what for themselves. In addition, the site provides an array of background and illustrative materials – including issue primers, polls, maps and extensive documentation, from the constitution to the latest UN investigation report.
In addition, NOW Lebanon offers all readers the opportunity to subscribe to its email supplement, NOW Magazine, a weekly selection of NOW Lebanon’s most important articles, news stories and other essential information.
Our website is not simply an online magazine or information portal. It is a tool for making sense of the issues that are most relevant to Lebanon’s future, and it is an intelligent platform for constructive discussion and debate.
NOW Lebanon’s vision and its dynamic approach to gathering and interpreting information make it a valuable tool for engaging the Lebanese diaspora, one of the most important yet under-acknowledged resources available to Lebanon today. Millions of Lebanese, across the world, are ready to assume a greater role in the country’s future. The New Opinion Workshop aims to harness the potential of this resource and increase the visibility and strength of the diaspora in Lebanese affairs.
NOW Lebanon is dedicated to providing all of its readers with all the information, expertise and resources they need to form their own opinions, make their voices heard – and to make a difference in Lebanon.