Apotheosis is not new in human history but it materializes differently in Lebanon in that the deification of leaders exists without the basic reason that justifies it.
The deification of a leader is not seen as blasphemy, although it edges very close. According to article 473 of the Penal Code, publicly blaspheming God is illegal and punishable with a minimum of 1 month and up to 1 year in prison.
That doesn’t apply to the other forms of blasphemy that are indirect, and not always as indirect, like in the commonly-observed scenes of deification or adulation of leaders.
It is called Apotheosis and it occurs when a subject (a leader) is glorified to divine levels. The leader is then perceived or treated as a god, a messiah (or above it), a divine messenger, and so on.
In Lebanon, that controversial phenomenon is noticeable today, as in the past decades, with public proclamations, especially with the coming elections, whether verbal or on banners and billboards.
It is most importantly marked by the religious-like mindset to blindly follow a leader and the fierce passion, sometimes violent, to defend leaders in their shortcomings, failures, and even exposed corruption.
That passion, or more exactly adoration, has blurred the red lines, and some tend to cross them. And the consequences have been detrimental to the country.
It is no longer a matter of trust in the capabilities or integrity of the person we elected or brought to power but a matter of ideological faith.
In religion, we don’t question; or are told not to. We just accept and abide, fully believing in our inherited ideology. God, after all, doesn’t make mistakes. Only humans do.
In politics and governance, however, we have come to not question the human in power. Accepting and abiding by them, despite the evident mistakes or corruption or failures, not only edges denial of the obvious but falls under the Apotheosis phenomenon.
Apotheosis is not new in human history and is not particular to Lebanon. As explained by studies, “people or communities deify leadership in their belief that leaders can fulfill all their needs.” That is basically what drives them or justifies it.
But, this hasn’t been the case in Lebanon.
People’s needs and those of society haven’t been fulfilled. Not even close. They have been actually suffering for a long time from the lack of most essentials… while still hanging on to promises that had long expired and excuses that defy the facts or logic or reality.
The main question that poses itself here is: What could have brought a population that is largely highly educated and progress-driven to divinize their leaders? Because this is not random nor is logical. It certainly isn’t politics or due to “the fulfillment of all their needs.”
Lebanon has been crumbling for a while in a socio-economic disaster, under the same leaders that people are considering re-electing or bringing back to power despite their failures and negligence.
Some with even a tenacious attitude of Apotheosis, a sacred-like belief that their sectarian leaders are their only salvation even at the long-proven cost of their continuous afflictions.
The salvation from what becomes the question. The country’s descent into the abyss hasn’t been a natural disaster or “fate” or whatever some wish to call it in their outstanding denial.
It is a man-made one, collectively created with the participation of those who had eagerly brought them to power and are eager to re-elect them.
It is hard to comprehend this with reason and logic, and even with religious faith, for, in Lebanon, this is a phenomenon on its own.
Are the people willing to consciously evolve and break out of the time loop they have co-created and/or allowed by boycotting the elections?
The coming elections on May 15th will tell.