Editorial: Loquitur calls for support of Arab Spring youth

By Laura Hancq
November 2, 2011

Map of the Middle East updating information on countries where change due to “Arab Spring” is taking place; the death of ousted leader Moammar Gadhafi closes a chapter in the region.

Imagine working really hard throughout four years of college and upon graduation, having no prospect of a career or no hope for accomplishing future goals. How would you feel if you had graduated with a highly-skilled degree and your only job option was to own a fruit cart or drive a taxi? What a waste, right? This is what the youth of the Arab Spring have faced for a long time and it is obviously time for a change.

In light of Mark Schnellbaecher, Catholic Relief Services’ regional director for Europe and the Middle East, coming to Cabrini to discuss the revolution, the Loquitur editorial staff is focused on our brothers and sisters across the globe who are striving to establish their rights. While life is difficult for those of all ages in the United States as well, as students and young people, we have a special connection with the youth in the Middle East and we cannot turn a blind eye.

These young people are inspirational. It takes serious courage to see the downfall in society and speak up for the common good. As the United States struggles economically, we need to take a page out of their book and strive for a change. In a way, we already have with the Occupy Wall Street movements that have hit across the country. However, we cannot stop there. It’s our mentality that needs to shift inside each of us from looking out for number one, to examining the systemic issues of our government and economy and advocating consistently until our voices are heard. The youth in the Middle East have succeeded in this and can be prime examples for us.

What can we do to support the youth of the Arab Spring? First and foremost, we need to support federal aid and let the government know we do not want the .06 percent of the budget that goes to helping others around the world to be cut. The miniscule amount of aid we provide does a lot of good with a small amount of money. If we take that away, our image to the world will really take a hit. We seem to believe that all we need to protect ourselves is a powerful military. While of course having the best military in the world is an incredible advantage, our safety is also dependent on our relationships with other countries. Helping to alleviate hardships can improve our safety and lower the risk of terrorism.

Second, we need to realize that we do not have all the answers. We can assist and we can provide aid as a country to help these individuals achieve their rights, but we cannot step in and force an American way of democracy. As Schnellbaecher said in his speech, we need to stop thinking that as Americans, we have all the answers. Clearly, we do not. If it does not come from the inhabitants of the country, it is not truly theirs and will not ultimately bring peace and happiness.

We know how difficult it is in this country built on freedom, democracy and capitalism to be successful and not lose hope. Imagine having everything stacked against you by your country and trying to make a name for yourself when it’s almost impossible because of the government. Would you speak up? Will you use your right to speak up for those you cannot see?

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Laura Hancq

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