Breaking a vicious cycle!
May S - 13/04/2012
I do not need any reminders to realize that, throughout history, politics have always been far from ‘morals’ and ‘values’. Politicians often justify their ‘immoral’ stances by reminding people that they are entitled to play a ‘dirty game’, as long as this is what their profession entails.
However, from an idealistic vision, I like to believe that we cannot move forwards and usher a new era in Jordan, as well as the Arab world, without witnessing a new political discourse that honours values and morals. We need to embark on radical changes, which, in this sense, are not always synonymous with change and fall of regimes only, but also include a radical change in the public’s attitudes towards the state and the society.
Because flawed concepts of citizenship and violations of people’s rights have become the norm for decades, it becomes undoubtedly difficult to re-shape public awareness and challenge the status quo.
This has become obvious during the Arab Spring when toppling regimes is obviously not enough and a genuine change requires a new culture.
From a Jordanian perspective, I can safely assume that we need a culture that breaks the ‘cycle’. Future generations need to understand what it means to be citizens of the state and that this status brings along rights and responsibilities. As much as it sounds as a cliché, I believe it still has not become something that we can take for granted.
In 2020, I do not want to hear someone who thinks the government is ‘being too generous’ because it has agreed to increase wages. I want us to know that we are paying the taxes and we are entitled to fair wages. I do not want to hear someone’s complaints about a ‘lenient government policy’ because it is allowing people to protest without attacking them. I want us to believe that we are citizens and the government is found to serve our interests, therefore, we have the right to protest peacefully and be treated with dignity.
We also complain about corruption but in the same breath, we do not hesitate to seek the help of our connections within the government to acquire personal privileges. This new generation will replace the concepts of our predecessors and hopefully look after the public’s interests before the personal ones. I would be in a utopian Jordan, when I could hear that someone refused to use his connections and decided to abide by the ‘equal opportunities’ policy.
Similarly, when the elections’ season begins, I do not want to hear that electorates are still voting on tribal grounds because they cannot ‘break the rule’. People have been voting for members of the family or the tribe, even if they do not agree with their views, because of their fear to buck the trend and vote for political agendas. Many electorates think it is ‘shameful’ to elect a candidate who does not hail from the same hometown or belongs to a different tribe. Future generations will, hopefully, replace tribal grounds with political affiliations and bring about change in our parliaments.
As for the so-called ‘fourth estate’ of the country, I sincerely hope that future generations of journalists will also rid the profession of the rampant corruption within this community. I understand that journalists’ low wages do not enable them to be as professional as we aspire, but a journalist should always keep in mind the ‘noble nature of the profession’. I strongly believe that media shape public awareness and preferences; it should therefore be the first sphere to deliver reform. Bribes and soft contamination shall become a distant memory, when journalists refuse to sell out.
Witnessing the events of the Arab Spring, I have always thought about journalists in the newsrooms, especially those who are stuck in pro-regimes outlets. I still fail to understand how a journalist can appear on TV and claim that ‘terrorist armed groups’ are killing children in the streets of Homs and Dera’, when they should be the voice of truth. During such crucial moments, professionalism and integrity are indispensable pillars of the media and it applies to Syrian, Jordanian and every Arab media outlet.
In other words, the status quo is created by people who witnessed fatal violations in silence, cared about personal interests more than the public ones, had a hand in corruption and eventually led the Arab world to where it stands today. According to this reality, change cannot be delivered unless future generations break these cycles and adopt a new culture, underpinned by democratic values and accountability.
This is not to deny that numerous incidents have occurred in the Jordanian modern history where our predecessors have made us proud. They practiced democracy and showed a high level of awareness in the fifties, when they elected one of the best parliaments and formed the first ‘elected’ government in Jordan, led by Suleiman Nabulsi.
They spoke out and challenged repression in 1989, leading to the resumption of the parliamentarian life in Jordan. They have made us proud, but, unfortunately, a huge part of this history remains missing and has no place in our curricula.
This part of our history is excluded from our textbooks and it takes a tremendous effort to find this part on our own. I still believe we need to break the cycle, but we also need to document every part of our history before we move on!