Youth in Fighting against Corruption

Stories of Rule of Law in Jordan
Opinion19.09.2018Kameel Kishek
Jordan Youth
Jordanian young lady during a workshop on education by Arab Youth Union for Freedom and Democracy (AYUFD) - MoroccoFondation Friedrich Naumann pour la Liberte - Maroc

I will always remember one course I took in university which was ‘Introduction to Politics’ – safe to say it was an elective course considering that I am studying engineering, so it was refreshing to engage in debates and interact with students from different majors regarding political and social issues. Another reason this course was one of the most eye-opening for me was the professor; he always had a way of making us reach conclusions by asking questions that would make you think of decision made by politician "X" for example. Another method he used was presenting a question or circumstance to the class, and allow for people to make their point or debate why they think so. It is safe to say that we had a lot of heated debates throughout the semester – on topics ranging from women’s rights to secularism - and it showed a spectrum of the political and social stance of a small sample of university students (youth).

I remember in one class the same professor asked the following  question to all the students: “If you were a politician/decision maker, do you think you would be corrupt?” (The exact wording of the question might be different, it was 2 years ago)

Although a lot of students hastily replied with a noble “No, of course not”, for others the question was racking through their mind for an honest and thoughtful answer, including me.

Some answers ranged from “No I would only want to serve my country” to “Only on small-scale matters”. But the professor had a different view: he said that at the back of the mind of every one of us, there is a small dictator, one that grows with the more power and authority when you feed it. In a way, that made me think even harder about the question; I was envisioning myself put between two decisions that would either benefit me on a personal scale or benefit a large number of people. It is easy to say that nine times out of ten you would choose the decision that would benefit the people, but if that is the case, then why does corruption exist? And why is it a phenomenon that occurs in almost every country?

The statement that my professor said was true in some sense; people are born with the natural instinct to benefit themselves in order to survive - a kind of a primitive instinct - however, these means of acquiring ‘safety’ or ‘power’ cannot be efficiently integrated into modern-day life without concern to the social consequence every decision holds. The moral values instilled in children and youth all stand against forms of corruption, yet corruption is present in most sectors and jobs, and I think that the ‘Silent Majority’ or youth, have the power to hinder the growing rate of corruption in our society.


Political involvement and responsibility

The youth are full of potential and hope, and relative to the older segment of the population, they have not experienced 'wasta' (or middlemen) interference nor corruption as much; their moral compass is still fixed on the values that they were taught when they were younger or are still learning, therefore when faced with decisions that test their morality, they tend to reference their core values instead of reflecting on negative experiences. Some people may say that for this reason younger people can make impulsive decisions, yet with enough experience and functional training, we can enable our youth to make a more sound judgment.

The minimum legal age for a candidate to be eligible for the Jordanian Parliament election is 30 years old, despite that, the average age of members of the 18th Jordanian Parliament (National Assembly) is much higher, with the youngest member being 34 years old. So in order to encourage the younger generation to be leaders in their communities, we have to encourage their involvement in political trainings, seminars, and connecting them with decision makers so they can gain more knowledge and experience to give them the confidence to start representing their community at a younger age.



Successful media outlets in Jordan cover news as well as entertainment, but they tend to be more critical when dealing with political news as they fear the backlash of the people or government, yet if we allow young people to have their own media outlets where they can express their opinions, and have their own supported youth organizations for reporting social and political issues, they are certain to provide ingenious solutions for problems, as well as stipulate more transparency from decision makers, resulting in a big portion of the population now -who happen to be voters- able to follow, scrutinize, and address their decisions.
In addition, young people are more driven to voice their opinions and feelings creatively which can appeal to the older generations,  as well as their knowledge of the vast social media platforms that are proving to be a huge factor in affecting public opinion.

These are some ways that the youth can help in fighting corruption, and there are more solutions that every young person has, so if we are able to acknowledge our potential by thinking about similar ways we can impact our society, we would be on the right track towards developing a generation of leaders and innovators.



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