A Future in Making
Published on Sunday, January 29, 2012
Why we should encourage our Younger Generation to get involved in the pro-democracy movement in Iran? Empower the youth.
It was the involvement of one Egyptian freedom fighter, a young man that forced Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton to personally step foot on Tahrir Squrare; it was the camera footages of young Iranian side walkers in Tehran that caused Neda to be instantly viewed on world screens as she was dying in her own blood in the name of freedom. These are all pro-democracy movements, some of them in Iran, all of them for freedom, that need support and encouragement from you and me, the silent viewers. It is time we stop repeating the past patterns and together participate in a future in making.
We blamed our parents, our children blame us, and their children will blame them. For as long as making of youths’ future is not put in their own hands, we will all remain indebted to our future generations, for the world that we created and left behind for them. Generational lack of communication is a major problem. Over 60% of the Iranian population is under the age of 30 and it is much easier for them to relate to people from their own generation who will have a better idea of challenges that face the younger generation in Iran. Communication is the key.
The unique attribute of the youth is that they possess purity in determination and commitment. This quality is unparalleled by any other stage of adult life in that it is not motivated by material gains. In addition to that, while the older generation may have political experience, the younger generation makes up for part of the lack of political experience through access to technology, wider networks through various social media such as facebook and twitter, and ability to speak multiple languages; all necessary tools in helping to promote the pro-democracy movement in Iran.
The language skills may include reading, writing, and speaking fluently in English or other international languages such as French and German. This is crucial because an important part of the pro-democracy movement includes lobbying the governments of the countries we live in, and raising awareness about the human rights situation and the pro-democracy movement in Iran. The younger generation is also more likely to have connections to various non Iranian pro-democracy groups and organizations as well as connections to various government agencies and officials, which can be helpful in promoting and bringing awareness of the pro-democracy movement in Iran. Awareness is not only something to teach and promote as knowledge or as a personal power, but also something to practice and utilize as a tool to bring about the desired changes. Awareness is only a theory, until it is effectively communicated. Creating a youth based community advisory committee that has functional power in every branch and ruling body of the governments in all countries, will bridge the generation gap that may have been otherwise neglected.
What should the Iranian opposition do to encourage and motivate the younger generation to get involved in the pro-democracy movement in Iran?
The opposition groups must realize that the future does not belong to any group. It belongs to every single living body and every single baby born in the world for the entire future to come. Assuming this responsibility, a common language must be adopted. Opposition groups need to realize they must engage in horizons that are further and farther than they have presently reached. The youths in every opposition group must be given a chair to participate in the events and be able to rule judgments. The youth should in turn update and educate the past generation with advances in technology and mass communication modalities.
The Iranian opposition groups should be conducting more meetings and events in English or other official languages of the countries they live in, as many young Iranians who left Iran at an early age may not be fluent in Farsi, and are more likely to attend political gatherings that are conducted in a language that they are able to understand and participate in. If the older generation accepts learning English or any other language for the sake of understanding the young generation, the young generation also will have to accept learning Farsi for their own sake. This exchange should not be put aside and expected to resolve by itself, because it won’t. Effort must be made by family members whenever possible.
The political events and social gatherings should also be more geared towards these younger generations. This could be done by using film and music and advertising with non-Iranian media, as well as on social networks such as facebook and twitter where it is much more accessible. Formation of a global network to promote youth awareness and unity across borders has been part of the modern civilization since early twentieth century. Different government funded scholarships and student exchange programs have been initiated and started functioning since. This effort must continue at the required pace by today’s growth and today’s need for understanding each other and communicating awareness.
Younger people, more than the older generation, should have access to the podium during political meetings and social gatherings and should be encouraged to speak, ask questions, and make statements about their own wishes and desires. Seeing younger pro-Freedom people involved in the social and political movements in this way will send a ray of hope to the younger generation in Iran who will see that their own generation who live abroad have not forgotten about them, and is trying to connect with them. It is crucial to have a mix of speakers at events and meetings which represent various generations, including most importantly the younger (under 30) generation. It is necessary to make the youth aware of their ability to determine policies for making their own future as they desire it to be. They must also become aware of assuming responsibility for it. It is the existing generation’s duty to respect the desires of the youth, help them develop it, and then let them run with it. What else is as meaningful in life?
Participation of the younger generation must be encouraged by all pro-Democracy and pro-Freedom social and political Iranian groups, by asking the youth for their input and allowing them to grow and advance within these groups and organizations and allow them to take part in their decision making process.
What can the youth do to help the pro-democracy movement in Iran?
While one of the ways to help the pro-democracy movement in Iran may be by joining various groups and organizations, this is not necessary to help and make a difference. The most important thing is to take the first step to communicate with each other in whatever way we can. No step is too small and any one person can have a major impact. We as mature and responsible adults must make it our duty to encourage the youth to get in touch with their own genuine dreams, wishes, and desires for building the world that they want to live in and leave behind, and encourage them to act on it. We will be surprised how original and delightful their contributions can be.
One of the most important things the younger generation can do is WRITE in English or other international languages in order to bring awareness about the pro-democracy movement in Iran. One can create a blog or a website, write articles on facebook and promote it through twitter and other social media, as well as writing for various media outlets and social, community, and scholar periodicals. While a lot of information comes out of Iran, very little of that information is ever translated and related to non-Iranian activists, individuals, groups and organizations. This is a task that is necessary and extremely helpful. It can start with a student club posting or a chat room comment or a blog. It will have major impact once everyone makes it a habit, just like brushing their teeth, and it is a lot more creative!
Forming various pro-democracy groups in high schools and universities can also be helpful, especially in the face of many student organizations which are created by bursary students who are supporters of the Islamic Regime in Iran. Pro-democracy groups are needed to combat these existing pro-regime groups in universities and educational venues. It must be realized that the youth inherently and by themselves do not possess the agenda of heresy. It is brought upon them as a result of lack of perspective in respecting their personal abilities and their own decisions. We all know of legendary grave impacts of this mistake.
Lobbying is another important activity that can be done within groups or individually. Activists can book appointments with their local government officials, inform them of their views and input about the situation in Iran and suggest ways that their government can help the pro-Democracy and pro-Freedom movement in Iran. This can be one of the most useful things we can accomplish as Iranians who live abroad. To make this an individual yet organized effort, is one of the most powerful ways to make the desired change. This is an example of thinking globally, and acting locally. We encourage and believe that learning to understand, relate to, and work with government officials brings well deserved self confidence to the youth, and it will impact the rest of their lives.
The best way to change a future is by participation in "A Future in Making". Look in your local phone book and online directories for your local government officials, members of parliament, senator, governors, congressmen, whatever officials you want to send a message to, and start to think and write to them. Get on their mailing, emailing, twitter, and facebook lists. Send them your views, and most importantly, talk about it with your peers and friends and encourage them to do the same. Contact the media in any language, and discuss your findings. Let us support the wave. It will wash on our own shores. Let us find our power.
No effort is too small and everyone can make a difference. While getting involved may seem intimidating at first, the most important thing is to take the first step, and to keep in mind that we can be the change we want to see in the world.
Now go break a leg!
By: Sayeh Hassan, Barrister & Solicitor, Pro-democracy Activist
Sheri Alvandian, Pro-democracy and Human Rights Activist, Publisher, Producer