Academic journal article American Academic & Scholarly Research Journal

The Impact of Sectarianism and Intolerance on the Workplace in Lebanon

Academic journal article American Academic & Scholarly Research Journal

The Impact of Sectarianism and Intolerance on the Workplace in Lebanon

Article excerpt

Abstract. This qualitative study will describe and analyze the perspectives of Lebanese employees, managers, and trade union representatives regarding the influence of sectarian favoritism in their workplace. The research design will involve "in-depth phenomenological interviews" (Seidman, 1991), conducted across a range of private sector companies in Lebanon, focus groups, and observations. The research will have implications for employers who want to make a positive difference in their diverse workforce's achievement and productivity.

1 INTRODUCTION

My research will investigate how intolerance and sectarian harassment affects the Lebanese in their workplace. Does sectarianism affect their career choices? Are they recruited according to sectarian criteria? Do they experience the effects of sectarian banter and intolerance in their workplace? Does intolerance hinder their personal development? Does intolerance and sectarianism hamper work progress or decision-making? Are they promoted according to sectarian standards? In Lebanon, productivity and team work are definitely affected by sectarian pestering and intolerant behavior.

Sectarianism is a constellation of negative beliefs, attitudes, and feelings toward other sects. The reason for that is that most religions teach people not to ask questions but rather to consider those questions settled, thanks to their often pat answers. The problem with this approach is that it makes faith into a destination, rather than a journey, a place to be reached instead of a road to be traveled. Consequently, the Lebanese became the know-it-all with a shallow sense of moral purpose, and so far they have used one strategy to deal with their "enemies", or actually with the "other Lebanese": fight him or her. This method has not been successful, and Lebanon is still populated with "enemies". The problem with trying to destroy "the other" over the years has been that it has become increasingly difficult to do so. Today, the malice of the neighbors, the resentments of squabbling families, the envy of colleagues and mainly the battle of the sects can no longer be eliminated, for it has become rooted in the heart, brain and soul of the majority of the Lebanese. That means that there are ever more potential threats, general and personal, that are building up in every house, every neighbourhood and especially every workplace in Lebanon. Private disputes are settled through force and the law cannot put an end to that practice. One would have thought that after so many years of fighting, the Lebanese would have purged their country of "enemies", but that did not happen because fanaticism and intolerance have become a way of life. The most dangerous fact about fighting the "other" is that the thrill of the fight is often the sole purpose behind it.

During the years of civil war, conflict resolution was mostly through military means. Thus was established a tradition that encouraged the Lebanese to blind themselves to each other's points of view. Based on that, enmity among the sects can continue forever, and what helps it to thrive is the fact that individuals are prisoners of mind-sets which make them seek out enemies everywhere in their daily life, but especially in the workplace. When one believes that there are people who despise them or wish them harm... when one is constantly simmering with anger and filled with loathing and disgust for the "other"... when one is convinced that the "other" is totally incompatible... it goes without saying that those individuals cannot work together in the same environment.

Either the Lebanese have continued to develop hatred through a visceral reaction, or they have taken it for granted that enmity is the inevitable consequence of the way the world is made. Fabricating enemies is one of the oldest and busiest of human industries, where the raw material may be nothing more than hurt, pride, anger, or rivalry gradually hardening until the manufacturers become prisoners of their hatred. …

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