On the coattails of my last post on Anabel Quan-Haase’s book, Technology and Society: Social Networks, Power and Inequality, I would like to again bring light to the value and necessity of political and social consciousness. Quan-Haase’s text brings a formal and factual approach to issues, but also includes commentary and questioning of the status quo in respect to how technology plays into power and inequality. This approach to information and education is an effective start to helping people to reframe their perspective of society, and hopefully question whether or not they are willing to accept the social and political inequalities that surround us in a globalized world.
No doubt that such forms of information are relevant in the development of the politically and socially aware. Yesterday, I had tears well up in my eyes when listening to an interview with an individual who is not only interested in change, but was also willing to speak wisely, and passionately about the social and political state of his country. I have typed out the interview transcript below:
Ali Ahmad: I’m here in today to help prevent Egypt from becoming a commodity owned by one person. And to protest the confiscation of the constitutions by one single party. We didn’t get rid of a military regime to replace it with a fascist theocracy.
Reporter: A fascist theocracy? I don’t even know what that means?
Ali Ahmad: A fascist theocracy is when you manipulate the region and enforce extremist regulations in the name of religion even though that religion doesn’t command that
Reporter: Who thought of all this?
Ali Ahmad: I just know it.
Reporter: How do you know it?
Ali Ahmad: I listen to people a lot, and use my own brain. Plus I read newspaper, watch TV and search the internet.
Reporter: So you see the country is not doing well and has to change?
Ali Ahmad: You mean politically or socially? The social objections of the revolution are yet to be achieved. Economic empowerment, freedom, and social justice. There are still no jobs. The police still jail people randomly. As for social justice, how can a news anchor get 30 million Egyptian pounds while people still pick food from garbage? Politically speaking, where is the constitution that represents us? For example, women are half of the society, how come there are only 7 ladies in the constituent assembly, 6 of whom are Islamists?
Reporter: So you think they are going to manipulate the constitution?
Ali Ahmad: What is built on falsehood is false itself. Even if the constitution is nice but the assembly that drafted it is bad, we will end up with something bad. Don’t bring me 80 good articles and 20 bad ones that will ruin the country, and then tell me this is a constitution.
Reporter: Did you read the constitutional draft?
Ali Ahmad Yes (nods).
Reporter: Where? On the internet?
Ali Ahmad: Yes (nods) For example they say women are equal in men in all matters, except in matters that contradict Islamic law. But then Islamic law allows men to discipline their wives. This can’t work in society.
Reporter: Why not? What’s the problem?
Ali Ahmad: The problem is that it’s outrageous. I can’t beat my wife up and almost kill her and then tell you this is discipline. This is not discipline, this is abuse and insanity. All of this political process is void, because the parliament in the first place is void. Popularly and constitutionally void. Some parties base their campaign on mixing religion and politics. Mosques were moralizing voters, they distributed sugar and cooking oil to the voters, and many other things like that.
I didn’t mention prior, that this transcript is the conversation between a reporter and a young 12-year-old boy. I wanted to emphasize the insight and critical thinking process that has allowed this young boy to speak for social justice and political empowerment, with wisdom beyond his years . We should all ” listen to [our] people a lot, and use [our] own brain”.
Below is another video of an exemplary and politically aware young person. In this case, the clip involves 12-year-old Victoria Grant from Kitchener, Ontario in Canada. With the guidance of her father, she has also taken a strong interest in the political landcape, particularly the economics surrounding banking. Like Ali Ahmad, Grant has become informed by asking questions, finding information, and being prepared to think critically. We could learn a lot from these inspiring children, who are brave enough to speak to principles and ethics, and understand the value of knowledge as power in the determination our fates in a nation-state.
As adults and even our children are becoming more aware about the social issues manifested by the action or inaction of political policies, it is becoming evident that even one person can cause a ripple of difference. These kids show that all it takes to start is an interest in our neighbours, and a goal for the common good.