Everyone knows Lebanon has a sectarian system – the president must be a Maronite Christian, the prime minister a Sunni Muslim, and the speaker of Parliament a Shiite Muslim.

The country has 18 official sects – with seats in Parliament reserved for almost all of them. 

This week a hashtag titled "If Lebanon made it to the World Cup" began trending on Twitter ... and the country's sectarian problem manifested itself through a number of tweets.

"We would've formed a sectarian bundle"

"This would've been the flag representing the country"

"We would have disagreed on which sect played better and scored more goals"

"Each sect would've been assigned a certain number of players, according to the parliamentary bloc"

"The captain would've been a Maronite, the goalkeeper a Sunni and a Shia coach"

"The tournament would've ended before we formed an actual team"

'Lebanon is more than a country – it is a message.' - Pope Jean Paul II

Muslim and Christian leaders standing together in Lebanon.

The words of Pope Jean Paul II from 20 years ago still ring true today: 

"Lebanon is more than a country: it is a message of freedom and an example of pluralism for East and West."

The late Pope made this statement during his 1997 visit to Lebanon. 

Since Lebanon's sectarian civil war (1975-1990) ended, the country has come a long way in overcoming religious prejudice. 

It took the country 27 years to rebuild unity. 27 years of preaching acceptance and tolerance. 27 years of fighting against sectarianism. 

By far, it isn't perfect, but at least we've finally come to terms with the notion of acceptance. Sectarianism still exists within society, within government.

In addition, we're no longer fighting in the streets. Instead, today's generation is fighting back. Today's generation doesn't see sectarian division as the answer but recognizes it as the problem. 

In 2017, in the village of Kefraya in Lebanon's Western Beqaa District, a Muslim sheikh and a Christian nun worked together to serve the poor, the sick and the needy.

That same year, a Muslim sheikh recited the adhan - the Muslim call to prayer - in Achrafieh's Basilique Notre Dame de la Médaille Miraculeuse church. 

We've come a long way since the 90s ... but there is a lot more to be done.