I’ve been thinking about this subject for the past week or so.
This generation is probably the youngest in our history. The median age is around 23, one of, if not the, highest growth rate in the region and a life expectancy hovering in the late 70’s. We are not only the youngest but will also probably become the longest living generation in our history as well.
We are also the generation that complains the most.
My generation of 20-something-year-olds has a long list of issues to complain about. Pick and choose: from unemployment to standards of living to rising prices to education to marriage to exploitation to the socio-political dimensions that dominate our domestic environment.
The tendency is to blame the government. Now this may be sound in theory since the government, any government, has its share of the blame. However what I feel is unique about my generation is its apathy. There’s a mild a sense of anger about the issues but a reluctance to play any role in changing what needs to be changed.
The perception is that it’s useless to do anything about anything because everything will stay the same. We are stuck in a cycle of predictability. Moreover we tend to feel that any role we can play is too small and therefore too insignificant to matter, so why bother? Moreover we tend to be lazy; let the responsibility fall on someone else’s shoulders, at least then when they falter we have someone to blame. Moreover we are a generation raised on instantaneous gratification, the text-message generation, the quick fix generation; in other words if we don’t see immediate results then we abandon ship.
I have to admit and in a way reiterate that the first half of my life was spent in a different environment. In school we were taken out as a class to clean up a surrounding area; a forest, a park, a riverbank. In Jordan the likely scenario is to hear a friend complain about how the government isn’t doing anything about our environment, or how the police are too corrupt and worthless to implement the laws. They say all this before throwing a Pepsi can out of a moving vehicle.
We complain that our educational system is in terrible conditions and in need of massive reform. And with that, I agree 100%. But at the same time I cannot help but notice that those who complain about the system do not seem to have an appreciation for education. No one reads books in Jordan. Rarely have I seen students carry book bags, or fill university libraries until they become a fire hazard. A visit to many public schools on their last day of the academic year is a bold display of pages from ripped up books blowing through an empty playground.
Unemployment is a huge issue, and granted there is a lot that must be done about it on a federal level. However even with the knowledge that there are too many engineers in the country there are still thousands dying to get into an engineering program simply because their parents want them to, simply because of the title, simply because they feel there’s some type of guarantee they’ll find work.
These are all just small examples of how even the smallest role can play a big part.
The truth is many of these problems require a bit of time traveling to the past. In our schools there are no debate teams, or model UN clubs, or even student councils that actually do anything of tangible significance. The youngest of us are very disconnected from our communities or at the very least it’s safe to say it is no where near the level that it should be. When you’re in you’re 20’s and facing the realities of the world, or even perhaps the more jaded 30 and 40 something year olds, these types of things may appear futile and useless. The point is that all of these organizations lay the groundwork for learning intellectual discourse, for learning how to debate and argue; a political outlet. It will help turn the current cacophony into something more harmonious. It also helps overcome what I feel are irrational traditional fears instilled in us by our society; that saying anything will mean our disappearance off the face of the Earth.
These are just small examples of the type of engagement that is needed. There are many ideas that can go a long to way to pushing the youth to basically get up and do something about anything. To be the change they want to see.
It’s frightening for me to turn on the TV or open a newspaper in the western hemisphere to discover the latest group of young people who decided to come together and change the world, or at least their communities.
It’s frightening to make any of these off-the-top-of-my-head suggestions knowing that they will brushed be off as insignificant and useless.
It’s frightening to know that my generation can tell me on any given day all the things our government does wrong but can rarely name a member of that government, or the parliament, or a single issue or even the number of seats in the Senate or Lower House. The constitution is an unknown document and so are any of the laws written after the Ten Commandments.
I still have a dose of admiration for the 20 something year olds that go out and do something, chase an idea until it outlives even them. We still have some of those individuals around; the creators behind maktoob or jeeran dot com are shining examples in my book. They are the alternative to sitting at home wondering why the government isn’t creating more jobs for you.
Unemployment, wages, standards of living, all these issues fluctuate with the times. Apathy is what scares me. The idea that our generation spends so much time and energy judging what others have or have not created, that weÃ¢??ve created little of our own. The idea that our generation can be so willing to tear everything down yet so reluctant to build anything in its place.
Or maybe itÃ¢??s not apathy. Maybe itÃ¢??s complacency.
“The tendency is to blame the government. Now this may be sound in theory since the government, any government, has its share of the blame. However what I feel is unique about my generation is its apathy.”
You must be kidding me. Apathy? where is the real democracy so those young JOrdanians can feel they can make a difference? where is the fair represnetation in the MP? Even a weak democratic institution like the Jordanian parliment is undemocratic.
When you know it’s not your skills that will help your career but your last name.
Common. Lets be fair. Whan you have no control over anything, and when you see your friends with the proper last names move ahead while you stangante, this breeds discontent.
What good is a govvrnment that does not want to take responsibilty for its failuers? Opps, I keep forgettign we are not a democracy and non-democratic governments do not like ot blamed for their failures. So we blame our people, and most of all we blame the victims of the official failures.
Which is very pertinent…enviornment, society play a vital role in shaping who we are and what we become…if we grow up living in a not so encouraging eviornment,(which many of our Arab youth live in) chances are we (the majority) are not going to be so encouraged to do much, if anything at all!
From reading people’s thoughts, I believe there quite a number of passionate people out there who can lead and can make a difference! It’s putting words into actions and moving forward! our youth need guidance and encouragement…We need people like you, Natasha, Amin, Hamzeh, Roba, Batir, Moi, Rami, Shaden, Khalaf, Ola, etc. to embark on intiatives geared towards empowering the youth …
Fattoush, I am not looking to blame anyone but if you insist then the blame is shared all around. When someone gets a job because of his or her last name it’s not the government’s fault. The government may have failed to stop it but it’s going to happen be it in a ministry or at a private company like Fastlink. A democracy is only as strong as the democratic value already alive at the core and that is something we lack. We as a people do not live by the standards of a meritocracy, we prefer to advance ourselves through connections and for the most part it’s a vicious circle. What I am saying here and in this post is that society plays a role in its own destiny in the presence or in the absence of democracy.
If our government was 100% democratic tomorrow the liklihood that it would change any of the realities on the ground is slim to none. Democracy has never been a cure for apathy and this is something evident in the most democratic societies who wonder why voter turn out rates for 20-something year olds is so low.
In most cases, it is the most undemocratic societies that have lead to the most politically active and politically charged youth.
But hey, if it makes us feel better we can blame the government for everything. The problem with that is it wont solve much.
“enviornment, society play a vital role in shaping who we are and what we become”
I agree. Also, Iman you are such a communist 🙂
“Democracy has never been a cure for apathy and this is something evident in the most democratic societies who wonder why voter turn out rates for 20-something year olds is so low.”
The reason why voter turn out rates for 20-something year olds is so low is because now even in democratic societies, no one feels their politician is looking out for them, their politician is looking out for him or herself. In the US, they don’t write letters to their congressman like they used to. Also, people are starting to feel that politiicians have less and less power. So you hear jokes like “voters choose based on what colour tie the politician is wearing”. Globalisation took away a lot of the power from governments and youth (in democratic societies) are still civically enagaged but in a different way, they volunteer, they work with NGOs ..etc. Then again, some people say that youth are apathetic because they watch too much TV 😛
I don’t know what your intended meaning behind such comment is!
“When someone gets a job because of his or her last name itÃ¢??s not the governmentÃ¢??s fault. ”
Really? and who makes and enforces the laws? who has the power to track and prosecute corrupt people? The mob?
Who encourages corruption and wasta at the highest levels?
Come ON Nas. you take away people’s right to choose a clean government and to evict an incompetent one and then you tell them to share the responsibility? No democracy, no good government, no resposnibiliy for the peopel. The incompetant regeimes just love to blame the people who cannot change the regime and replace them.
Our government just wants to collect taxes and protect itself. The rest is icing on the cake and thanks go to international donors who fund infrastructure projects (god knows how much of it is funnled away as kickbacks)
Here is a simple example to illustrate my point:
South Korea: wealthy, industrial, technologically advanced, democratic, cultured, forward-looking,..
North Korea: run by a Qhaddafi-like lunatic dynsty, claims to be communist, represses its working class (and everyone else but the ruling parasites), backward, corrupt, repressive,… (but about to get a nuke, something none of our failed regiems can claim)
Both South and North share common ethnicity, history, and language. What is the only difference? GOVERNMENTS! When the north split from the south about half a century ago, each government charted a different course. And look where they are today.
Repressive governments and their base of parasites (techniclly called elite) are a formidible obstacle to the progress of any country. Citizen action alone is not sufficient except non-peaceful action. that is that.
there are examples of repressice but forward looking governments who turned their countries into world-class economies and eventually democracies: Singapore, China (not a democracy but on the way), Malysia, etc…A good government obvioates the need to democracy. but we in the Arab world are so fucking unlucky, with the sole exception of the UAE, to have some of the most corrupt and repressive regimes remaining on earth today (along with (Belarous and Burma) but unlike North Korea and China, we have nothing to show for this repression. Just a massive hemmorage of national resources to feed the bank accounts of the parasite class.
“I donÃ¢??t know what your intended meaning behind such comment is!”
All it means is that the sentence I quoted from you is the very fundamental idea behind communism.
I know nothing at all about Jordanian politics, but I agree with you that the individual can do more for himself than the government can do for them. Very nice piece.
lksfadljk.lmnop: (just kidding :p)
well yeah… but this fundamental idea is shared across a spectrum of left-wing ideologies, and even though it certainly is not limited to just that!(some may not agree of course, but getting into it right here will be going off on a tangent)
Anyway, Nas is right in that society does play a role in its own destiny … but in order to actually implement change and see a difference, guidance, encouragement and dedication are needed.
Hey Nas, totally agree with you. The lack of ambition among young, educated, even working women beyond getting married and having kids is especially scary for me. You can blame the government for some things but can’t really blame them for people not reading or refusing jobs they think are beneath them. The key to being politically active is feeling you can make a difference and this attitude is still missing in Jordanian upbringing and education.
Great! the same people who defend Zionazis joining an arab film school in Jordan are now blaming Jordanians for the ills od jordan. What an interesting pattern. what a freak mutation of liberalism. this must be indegenous to the arab world, because I have not seen it anywhere else.
This is the strangest logic I have ever heard people defend.
So attentionsJordanian people! Forget that fact 95% of you will spend the next 10 years making less than 300 jd, that’s your fault. And please fellow Jordanians, stop criticising the government that takes away your tax money and foreign aid and gives it to a close circle of friends and their sons and daughters. Fellow Jordanians, please stop complaning about the fact you will spend the next 10 years to climb up the corporate ladder only to find your buddy who graduated with a lower GPA (and has lower IQ) is your boss, because you don’t belong to one of the blessed clans.
So fellow Jordanians, put up, shut up, or get the fig out of here and ge yourselvs a job in Nicaragua or Bolivia, now that the West is no longer welcoming you with open arms.
Good post Nas,
You are so right, it has grown in our culture this sense of negativity. Maybe it has much to do with old military ruling days where people got feared into engaging in any political issue. Till now, you can hear people saying that they don’t like to talk politics out fear even with all of the government reassurance and continuous talk about current changes towards democracy.
People even fail to practice their guaranteed democratic simple rights such as voting, and when they do, they do it as a favor for someone.
Fahed El Fanek calls it the silent majority, which is true. Most are trying to mind their own business and cursing things without actually act.
Maybe a new next motto for the government after “We are all Jordan” should be “light a candle instead of cursing the dark”!
It is good to see some light coming from my fellow bloggers. We can lead the change…
“Ã¢??We are all JordanÃ¢?Â should be Ã¢??light a candle instead of cursing the darkÃ¢?Â!”
You remind me of the french queen who upon learning of her people’s misfortunes and empty bellies, tells them to eat cake.
ATTENTION THE SILENT JORDANIAN MAJORITY!!
SO YOU ARE POOR, UNEMPLOYED, UNDER-EMPLOYED, MAKING LESS THAN 120 DOLLARS A MONTH, DON’T EXPECT THINGS TO GET BETTER, COST OF LIVING IS RISING AND SO ARE YOUR TAXES, DON’T HAVE A BLESSED CLAN NAME?
LIGHT A CANDLE.
Dubban, Farouk, ARRRGGGHHH!, and anyone else with the attention span of a 5 year old…
I have not blamed the people for all our problems nor have I placed all the blame on the steps of Parliament as you are so inclined to do.
The government, as I have acknowledged in my post had you read anything past the 2nd paragraph, plays a huge role and carries a great responsibility in addressing these issues. We all know what role it should be playing. What this post is about is what responsibility the people carry.
If you are all under the impression that everything wrong in our country is the government’s fault, and that had we had a better government we’d be living in a utopia, then this would mean that our society is flawless.
In other words, to use an evironmental metaphor, if it wasn’t for our government then our streets would be clean and 6 million citizens would suddenly, overnight perhaps, grow an environmental conscience. And if it wasn’t for the government then there would be no such thing as wasta or nepotism or clans or what have you.
And if it wasn’t for Santa, Christmas wouldn’t be so commercialized.
“if it wasnÃ¢??t for our government then our streets would be clean “?
this is were we differ. clean streets rank 1009287 on the Silent Majority’s List Of Priorities as well as my list of priorites. You live in ivory towers (propably paid for by the sales taxes of those poor jordanians) and you obvioulsy come from a different social background and have different concerns.
Most Jordanians have more basic concerns such as jobs, healthcare, and education for their children to secure their future.
I am willing to put up with trash in the streets and rude drivers and dented sidewalks and the absence of democracy if we can have social and economic justice. BUT THIS SITUATION IS UNBEARABLE. REPRESSON, BAD ECONOMY, CORRUPTION.
Who said that the majority of Jordanian are poor, or unemployed, or cant expect a better future?!! Can you provide any link to a legimate statistics that states so?
In every society there is a portion of poor people, and like any country in the world our government is trying to limit the number of people in poor conditions. We have recently heard of many programs that has been initiated to help poor people and empower them. Sure, we are not living in heaven. We all work hard to give ourselves a decent living, and yes cost is living is getting higher, but salaries are getting better, we are getting more investements, and job opportunities are much better than 10 years ago.
One should look at the bright side.
I am not jordanian, but same can be said about youth of my country, and, bet about many more others even prosperous ones. personally, i agree with both sides.
i know my own reasons why i am not going into politics of any level. Whether they are just self-indulgence of my own apathy (or other weaknesses) or reasonable decisions time will show
But in a light of another entry
and the current one, why don`t people ask themselves are they ready to
return from universities world wide and enter the scene, and do all what they can to change the political course, the attitides of fellow citezens… no matters the obstacles and the cost?
I know, the question is sort of unfair, but big changes start from smaller ones
Observer you say “Who said that the majority of Jordanian are poor, or unemployed”
The UNDP says so. Denial is not a river in egypt.
Download the UNDP report and see Jordan’s part. not only is the situation NOT getting better as you claim, it’s getting wores. And the programs that you hear about in the newspapers are cosmetic and rarely touch the lives of the majority of jordanians, as the UNDP report shows. It’s Soviat-style bullshit.
the situation is horrific, but you may chose to ignore it like most well-off jordanians prefer to do (except the islamists it seem…further explaning their popularity). And for you to say that we work hard to better our lives, as if the poor don’t work hard is rather insensative. as a matter of fact, the hardest and least paying lines of work are usually performed by the poor jordanians.
If you are ashamed to admit to the massive poverty situation in Jordan, you can thank the government’s economic policy. Instead of denials, try to send a letter to the PM instead telling him to do a better job.
–> the environmental issue was merely an analogy, get over it. as for ivory towers…i live in a 1 bedroom basement apartment paid for by me.
–> i agree, yet what i find disheartening is that most Jordanians will go to the ends of the Earth just to avoid playing any role in any of those issues and many many more.
–> I agree, and I also agree that the government should be doing a lot more to solve these problems. what I’m getting at is that this isn’t simply a top-down paradigm, where the government waves a magic wand of democracy and suddenly it “let there be light”. Many of the root of our evils come from the our own society and our willingness, or rather unwillingness, to engage or not engage in our own destinies.
“this isnÃ¢??t simply a top-down paradigm, where the government waves a magic wand of democracy and suddenly it Ã¢??let there be lightÃ¢?Â.”
PLEEEZZZEEEE stop saying that peopel can make a difference in the absence of good government. THERE IS SIMPLE NO PRECEDENT IN HISTORY. KNOW ONE?
when you have high taxation, high cost of living, deteriorating salaries, shrinking economy, wasta, makrumat to squeez you out of a degree you deserve…all one can do is either become a thief to survive or drive a taxi or leave, among few other unimpressive choice. the best recourse victimized jordanians have is to leave jordan to find a job somewhere else. and that has been the case. the net effect is the contant brain drain and the cycle of backward movement for the nation as a whole since by process of natural selection (hate this theory) the best get hooked outside, the rest get jobs via wasts and stay or they simply don’t have skills to market outside jordan, with few exceptions of course.
you speak at the philosphical level but there is NOT ONE PROOF in all my limited studies of macro and micro economics where in a non-democratic state the people can make a difference to better their lives in the pressense of massive economic policymaking failure and corruption.
this american concept of lifting yourself up by your bootstraps works if you live in a super power with a great economy and an institutional commitment to equality of opportunity. this ain’t happpening in jordan anytime soon.
Walak Shoo, so your arguement is that every problem in Jordan is because of the government and if we had a free democratic government all our problems would dissapear and until that happens people are powerless. in other words, post hoc ergo proctor hoc.
did i get that right?
Gaddaha, would you please point me where exactly the UNDP say in their report that the majority of Jordanians are in poverty? I tried to search the site, and downloaded the PDF document about their assessment of Jordan, but didn’t find anywhere any claim about Jordaina being in poverty. They say that Jordan in a middle-income country. They say that some suffer of income poverty because of a high rate unemployment, and they say that in the past 20 years we have achieved a lot.
No the situation isnt horrific, and I DID NOT claim that poor people don’t work hard. I said we all work hard to maintain a decent live. To each his own case. Some have missed up their education opportunity, some choose to bring more chidlren to this world more than he can handle to take care of, some are just so unfortunate where they couldn’t find a decent opportunity. Sure my life may has been better than some others because of my parents, but it wasn’t easy. I am merely from middle class. My parents have worked hard to give us a decent living, and I am doing the same myself to keep on with my life style.
I don’t know how people can have a short memory of forgetting how things were a couple of years ago. We have progressed a lot. We consumes much more now, and enjoy more luxuries in life than ever before. And still we are going on. It isn’t as bad as some like to look at it. Things are getting better.
Nas, most jordanians have solved their problems by leaving to greener pastures where merit decides how far they can go in life.
Walak shoo, really? most jordanians have left jordan to join meritocracies? that’s a bold statement given that the overwhelming majority of the population lives in jordan.
My earlier question is still unanswered.
“Many of the root of our evils come from the our own society and our willingness, or rather unwillingness, to engage or not engage in our own destinies.”
Many? what many? where?
THERE IS NO historical precedent to what you say WHAT SO EVER and I am an avid student of history. But I am open to learning something new.
The fortunes of nations change with changing regimes and never despite of the regimes, except with revolutions.
I respect your opinion, but it lacks ANY historical precedents. Prove me wrong and I will humbly declate my error.
kharouf mahshi, so you’re saying that basically people are useless because of government domination and moreover that the government is responsible for all the flaws in any country…did I get that right?
basically, it can be summed up as follows:
While the people do play a role in their own destiny, there is only so much they can do. Ironically, you just mentinoned in your latest post that the minimum wage is set at 110 JDs…
Iman, I don’t see the irony, unless of course you’re saying that everyone in jordan earns 110jds and therefore making their apathy excusable.
DO YOU HAVE A FRIGGIN HISTORICAL PRECEDENT OR NOT? STOP ANSWERING MY QUESTIONS WITH QUESTIONS. YOU DON’T HAVE A HISTORICAL PRECEDENT DO YOU? NOT ONE SHRED OF EVIDENCE THAT IN THE PRESENCE OF A FAILED REGIEM PROGRESS CAN BE MADE.
Welcome the GPB everyone: The Government Propaganda Brigades.
OUR MOTO “blaming the poor for their own misery while whitewashing a repressive, corrupt, and failed regime’s lack of accomplishment. Poor poeple are poor because they are lazy and lack initiaitve.”
The GPBs’ favorite quote: “let them eat cake”
Yel3an Dinaro, i dont appreciate the immaturity or your being patronizing. so please put that aside and lets speak on good terms shall we? besides, it’s 2006 and the whole Marie Antoinette routine has been done to death.
my post is pointing out that in spite of the government there are many things people have the power of doing on a local, social and individual level. I’ve seen it in Jordan and it continues to play a positive role till this day.
unless however we want to believe we have no power over our futures and raise our children to be and feel useless. unless however we want to base our own futures on historical precedent and if we can’t find any in a textbook we’ll say ‘oh well, it’s never been done so who are we to try’?
that being said
you still havent’ replied to my question 🙂
“IÃ¢??ve seen it in Jordan and it continues to play a positive role till this day.”
Where are the success stories? they better be in the tens of thousands of Jordanians not in the dozens only. And they better be focused in Zarqa, Irbid, badya, refugee camps, not in Abdoun.
But I have read about one story where a poor family with only one BMW 2005 managed to benefit from government support programs for the poor and managed to get another BMW for the wife. Allah satar. What a happy ending. Now I heard of so many such success and may be this is what you are referring to.
But I do agree with you to some extent, yet from a totally different perspective. Jordan survives and marches forward despite the official establishment and its parasite class who takes so much from Jordan but give nothing back (except slogans ). Imagine with a good government how advanced Jordan could have been.
I salute fellow Jordanians and their enterprising spirit. Wallahi sha3b fazee3.
What I am saying is that I agree with you in that people do play a role in their own destiny, but at the same time people can only do so much to make something for themselves, to improve their lives, to succeed. When all ways and resources available to help one achieve his goals have been exhausted, whatÃ¢??s left?! Especially if the environment youÃ¢??re living in does not have much to give anyway? Often times, you can only function within the boundaries of the resources you have available. While not everyone makes 110 JDs a month, I wonÃ¢??t be surprised if the ‘overwhelming majority’ does.
There are hundreds of students across jordanian campuses that got together to form the Jordanian branch of 9unna3 il7ayat (lifemakers). they’ve helped thousands of Jordanians by clothing them, feeding them, distributing school supplies and teaching them computer skills.
INJAZ is another similar social project that teaches community leadership among Jordan’s youth by teaching entrepreneurship, business ethics, leadership and community involvement. Many people have joined this organization and many people have benefited from their courses and projects. Fellow blogger Lina is one of the former.
There are more organizations but not enough. Suffice to say that it is possible and it is happening and it is proof of what people can do for themselves in spite of an absent democracy.
no, not everyone makes that. the gnp is indicative of that.
i’m not asking people to change the world on minimum wage. only themselves and their communities. and anything that they do is not going to cost them a single piaster.
how about parents raising their kids to appreciate reading or raising them to feel that if they don’t become an engineer they’re not a dissapointment? how about corporate sponsership for reading programs and funding libraries? how about environmental clubs or model UNs? how about the concept of community service?
how about many other things that have nothing to do with minimum wage or the government?
simply from the people to the people. wealth and democracy may be elements that help in changing an environment, but they likely wont inspire positive social reform, that comes from the ground up.
Naseem, we are definitely on the same page!
I WAS SURPRISED BEFORE THREE MONTHS , WHEN I APPLIED TO WORK IN THE ROYAL JORDANIAN AS A MECHANICAL ENGINEER, I PASSED THE EXAM AND THE COMMITTE INTERVIEW, TO FINALLY MR. WAHID L ROSAN REFUSES ME BECAUSE AM A FEMALE…………
I think you should check out mideastyouth[dot]com and encourage Jordanian youths to join.
Networking is our only hope. No one ever realizes the importance of youth activism and its role in the future of the Middle East, especially Iran and the Arab world.
Check out the site and I hope it will give you some hope.