First posted on my short-lived blog Tharwalizations.
Apathy is probably one of the most puzzling and serious social diseases affecting regional youth these days. Yet, we can blame economic conditions and the local fear culture, stemming out of authoritarian predilections of ruling regimes and the potential for ethnic strife in some cases, only so much before we have to stop and consider the involvement of other factors in this matter as well. For fear and economic hardships only represent the inhibitive side of the equation, while human behavior is equally shaped by motivating factors. Indeed, the lack of credible leaders and the lack of a promising vision of the future, both of which are necessary factors for inspiring people into action, seem to be involved here as well.
Yet, the barriers represented by fear and poverty cannot be broken unless a realistic and attractive pull factor is introduced onto the scene. Had Islamist and nationalist interpretations truly sufficed in this regard, our regions would have succumbed to Islamism and nationalism decades ago. But, it is the fact that many of our youths, regardless of the particular nature of their religiosity and national identity, are still yearning from something more rational and modern that is exactly what is keeping the regional options open.
But unless the more liberal and rational elements out there attempt to offer a more appealing and rational vision and soon, our youths are bound to fall by default to the lures of the only real vision now dominating the scene, which tends to combine Arab nationalism and Islamism. Moreover, the “victories” achieved by the proponents of this vision, Hezbollah, Hamas, Al-Qaeda, etc., or at least their ability to stand up to the rest of the world, and to give their followers and sympathizers a sense of empowerment, are bound to help their cause, while serving to weaken ours.