|Young Workers as Actors of Change|
Behind the Events in Arab Countries
“Either We Live in Dignity or Die in Dignity”
The self-immolation by Mohammad Bouazizi, an unemployed man (26 years of age) who was harassed by the police in the Tunisian town of Sidi Bouzid, on December 17, was the spark that ignited the Arab streets. It first started the “Jasmine” Revolution (jasmine is Tunisia's national flower) in Tunisia, and the President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali and his government had to go. Then the spark became a fire in the Tahrir Square at Cairo, Egypt, and President Hosni Mubarak and his government were forced out. Now the spark is flaming in the streets of the capitals and cities of Libya, Bahrain, Yemen, Algeria and Jordan. The core or the centre of this spark which became a huge fire is millions of young people.
Why this Fire?
The chanting, cries and slogans of the millions of young people in the Arab streets are “Bread, Freedom and Dignity”, “Freedom, Bread and Job”, “No to Misery and no to Unemployment!” If we carefully look into these cries of the young people, we discover that they felt neglected, they saw that their capacities were not used, leading to impoverishment in their countries. We also discover a small circle of people getting richer and having total power.
How did it Flare Up?
Internet and the electronic media have a great influence in these events. It is possible to circulate around the world the latest visual images of these uprisings within a few minutes through 24x7 news channels, YouTube and even cell phones. Similarly, millions of people are brought into networks of communications through e-mail, texting, Facebook, Twitter etc. Social networks are powerful weapons for mobilisation of unarmed, angry mass of youth.
Give It a Thought!
Today’s youth is often branded as “not involved and not concerned” about issues affecting them and the social issues affecting the communities. They are also accused of being “indifferent” to political issues affecting them and their countries. The actions of youth in the Arab streets dispel the above accusation. Young people were at the forefront in planning and implementing the revolt and uprising. Their action to achieve freedom, bread and job was continued for days and weeks until it became victory. It shows that they are ready to struggle for a long period and keep the momentum of the struggle. Their action and victory is the testimony to the whole world that youth is involved, concerned and not indifferent to issues affecting them.
The modern communication technologies are very powerful. Many of us blame the youth saying that they are on the Internet, Facebook, Twitter, etc., wasting their time. However, our perception about the youth using the latest communication technologies went wrong. They used this medium of communication as a powerful weapon to gather mass of people to bring political change. Their successful use of technology is a reference to movements and social organisations that organise youth with the aim of bringing social change.
The General Assembly of the United Nations declared 12 August 2010 to 11 August 2011 as International Year of Youth (IYY). It is a call to youth all over the world to demonstrate that they count in this world. Through the events in the streets of Arab countries, the young people demonstrated to the world that “they count”. This is also a wake-up call to the youth who live in misery and unemployment to demonstrate that they, too, count in this world.
The dignity of the person is the most valued aspect in life. It is worth more than all the gold in the world – to put it in the words of Cardijn. This is sacred and can never be compromised or trampled. We are born in this world to discover our own worth, our dignity. The youth who participated in the uprising realised their worth. They realised their life has a meaning. They realised their dignity. They realised they should live in dignity.
Once this is realised, then we begin to believe that life is worth living. This will lead in to a chain of changes in our life. We begin to realise our power, potentials and capacities. We overcome our fear and become ready to face any challenge. We begin to commit to this dignity. We act to restore our dignity and worth to the extent of giving our own life like Mohammad Bouazizi (the Tunisian young man who sacrificed his life to restore his dignity and that of millions of youth).
“The YCW believes in the capacity of each young worker to discover their own importance and dignity, reflect on all matters which affect them, and decide their own areas of commitment.” - IYCW Declaration of Principles
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