The other day we were sitting around shayeshing saying how at our age George Habash was leading revolutionary groups all around the world. We on the other hand spend most of our time sitting around smoking shisha. Now obviously Habash is an exceptional and unique example, فأين الثريا من الثرى
but even when I compare our parent’s generation to our situation the contrast could not be sharper. No one can seriously say that we are as politically involved as they were.
Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying that Bahrain is less politically active nowadays when compared to the past. Bahrain is obviously one of the most politically vibrant countries in the region. I am comparing the affluent, supposedly highly educated youth back then and now. Back then getting involved in politics was the norm. Today we dare not, nor are we interested, to even speak of the subject.
Back in the sixties and seventies university students were at the forefront and indeed propelled political activism, especially those that studied abroad (which was the most back then). They filled demonstrations and political parties to the brim and even participated in revolutions (such as that in Dhofar). Brothers, sisters, friends, schoolmates, neighbours; the majority were involved or at least aware of the political situation. No one needs to be told this, just ask any of our parents. By contrast, the most educated and affluent nowadays (which us nidoers are a big chunk off) are one of the most politically lethargic groups you’d find across space and time.
Why are we so disengaged, so uninterested?……. Why is that?
Why is that in a region which is so obviously going through one of the most turbulent and important periods in its history, where lives, ideas, norms, economies, futures and even geographic boundaries are being reshaped and redefined? Where no one really has so much more at stake in what happens, and where nobody else stands to gain or lose more from the consequences? Indeed where no one else has any reason to be more concerned as to what happens?
Really? Why is that?
Is it because we live in a much more pessimistic and helpless age, where we’ve seen where the naivety and activism of our parents can lead you and where we now realize that the reality is we don’t have much of a chance to change anything? So why bother?
Or maybe it’s because our parents, having become dillusioned with their experience, decided to shield us and discourage us from politics and all its follies? But are we really going to pile the blame all on our parents?
Is it because there is so much nowadays in life to be distracted and occuppied with that we’ve lost sight of the bigger questions? What with all the videogames there are to finish, the premiership games to watch and the shoes to browse and buy, who can be bothered to even think of politics? I mean if you spend eight hours at mind-numbing work, then 2 hours watching tv getting tranced by nancy ajram and beyonce, then another 2 on the internet, add to this a couple of hours to take care of bodily needs, and then let’s not forget the gahwa session, when exactly, i hear you ask, do you intend to carry out a demonstration?
Or maybe it is all that you stand to lose if you get involved in politics. Shouldn’t we fear all that which we might have to give up? What about your career, your family, your community status? How about all those nice things in life like drinks at Trader Vic’s, comfy sofas with 52 inch screen TVs to watch desperate housewives, or indeed the internet? How are you going to afford all of that? And what if you get thrown in jail? There is too much at stake for so an uncertain a reward. Better focus on work, money, and football.
Maybe then it’s the government fault for making so much that is so important in our life dependant on absolute political loyalty or lethargy. But wouldn’t you expect the government to try and defend its perceived interests with all means available?
Or Maybe it’s because nothing is clear nowadays. The government is not perfect, but the alternative is Islamists. Things are getting a bit shady in Iraq with the internal killings and all, and who we should support is not all that clear. And maybe really the Americans are here to bring us development and freedom. Plus what should you believe in? Capitalism is awful but communism turned out to be worse. And Arab unity souds nice and rosy but it didn’t work out in practice. We don’t have as clear and defined a goal and ideology as our parents did. Everything is vague and confused.
Or, if we are being completely honest, maybe it’s because at the end of the day we are doing quite well, thank you very much. Yes Iraq might not be in tip top shape, and the situation Palestine is not exactly rosy either, but I can assure you everything is delightful here in the compounds of Budaiya. We feel sorry for them but what can I do for their tough luck? We are having a blast I will let you know, and all this voodoo talk about troubles and potential disasters is nothing but the ravings of a crazy doomsday fanatic.
But can anyone be so naive to miss all the dangers and troubles engulfing the region at the moment? And how much that stands to affect us,our lives, everything?
Why is it that so few of us bother, and if they do bother they seldom act? Why is it that for so many of us this is a pointless and boring topic that is best avoided? Why is it that we have only the courage to resort to anonymous blogs, while if the identity is public then you have to severely curtail what you dare say? Why is that Trader vics is packed on a weekend like a tokyo subway at rush hour while nidoers at a rally can barely fill a car? Why is that Tiesto can start a full blown riot while regional wars or local sea reclamation barely deserve a raised eyebrow?
I honestly have no idea. In my case it’s probably a bit of many reasons, but we seriously and urgently need to think of why this is so. Because no one stands to suffer or benefit from what happens more than us.