Optimism is there, the hope is renewed, the future is inspired; the looming question in all our heads is what comes next?
The Arab Awakening: a spring marked by revolution fever, a restoration of dignity, a thundering voice of the people. Emotions are high, the debates are inflamed, but for a change the discussions are fueled with a frenetic energy, mixed with excitement and fear—the potential of what can be. Just one year ago such discussions could not take place in the context of reality. Optimism is there, the hope is renewed, the future is inspired;the looming question in all our heads is what comes next?
It is very easy to fall prey to the cynical notions that we are not capable of running a democracy, that without dictatorships we are fated to a civil war, or imposition of religious extremism, but I caution you to reject this thinking immediately upon hearing it. There is no precedent for democracy in the Arab world in the Modern World and as such there is no reason to believe that the Arab region without Dictators is a region of chaos. We can map the future of the Middle East, it is up to us to determine a democratic future, the revolution has happened on the ground, now it must take place in the mind.
Endless years of living without any sense of civil liberties or justice, without any trust in the dueExpectations need to be managed, but the goal – societies that embrace the principles of democratic governance, that cherish the individual’s human rights, that promote thought and debate and encourage diversity of thinking cannot be compromised process of law psychologically trained us not just to mistrust our governments but in essence to also mistrust our own people. The fear of persecution for vocalizing anti-regime views silenced generations and its removal now challenges us to grab the momentum and leap forward to catch up with the democratic world around us. Our societies almost became strangely comfortable working around the limitations of autocratic regimes. We accepted the limitations that these regimes imposed and learned to work around them or resigned ourselves to the notion that this is the life we are fated for. Conditioned to the notion that advancement could only come through corruption or connections, we became passive victims of the system, paralyzed by fear, always assuming hidden agendas. Demoralization has been our status quo, a feeling that was fed by the lack of opportunity in our societies, but the biggest obstacles to this thinking have been removed, now it is up to the people to give back to their communities.
The people of Tunis, Egypt, Libya, Yemen, Palestine, Syria, Bahrain screamed, bled and died for a future for the entire Middle East that offers light instead of darkness. They are the heroes of our generation, and because of their sacrifice there is an opportunity for the cycle of dictatorships to be broken,for dignity to be restored to the people, and for societies to be built on merit and ideas as opposed to greed and personal advancement. Great sacrifice of life cannot at all be undervalued, our brothers and sisters died to put an end to the cycle of humiliation, subjugation, and hopelessnessthat we were born into. We must recognize the preciousness of the events of the past months and understand that in each one of us there is a responsibility to act and not to regress to old patterns of cynical and defeatist thinking. Democracy is a process, a process we must be patient with and not overly critical when immediate changes do not happen overnight. Expectations need to be managed, but the goal – societies that embrace the principles of democratic governance, that cherish the individual’s human rights, that promote thought and debate and encourage diversity of thinking cannot be compromised.We must transcend quickly from the role of victim of the system to active citizen of the region. It is up to all of us as a collective people to determine our future
Iman Dakhil currently resides in London and spent the better part of 2011 working for the Libyan Revolution