Casablanca – Do Moroccans really love their country? In theory, countless positive answers are likely to bombard us as soon as the question is addressed to our fellow citizens. In practice, I have reasons to doubt.
Only very few Moroccans may prove me wrong, in a country that is in desperate need of the help of its own people. There are millions of illiterate people in the kingdom. Our streets and cities are not that clean. Many people in the rural areas suffer from hunger and cold, and drop out of school. Thousands of homeless children struggle to survive without basic education and the skills required for work. The following are two facts:
There are more than 30,000 homeless children in Morocco, according to Sociologist Chakib Jasous.
41 per cent of Moroccan women are illiterate, according to UNESCO.
Citizens are probably the first who are responsible. What have they done? Almost nothing. On the contrary, the government, at least, has advanced some initiatives that have yielded some results. Additionally, blaming authorities for whatever is wrong usually leads to a vicious circle and sterile discussions. Moroccans are, as citizens, responsible for what has become of our country, and the government has no magic wand to solve all the problems once and for all. Even if it owned one, we still hold a moral duty to serve our nation.
Lack of engagement is a pity! Morocco is a kingdom of millions of citizens, but of very few engaged citizens. Here lies one of the major problems of this country. A large number of Moroccans retire, but only very few think of doing any volunteer work. Instead of offering their help in matters related to their field of expertise, many spend their time sitting in cafés or playing checkers. Alas, a huge potential workforce and human resource is being wasted. Worse yet, our university students prefer staying at home or “partying” during summer holidays over devoting time to their community.
An ordinary Moroccan can volunteer an hour per week to clean his or her city. An ordinary Moroccan can also teach illiterate women. I still cannot understand why fellow countrymen and women do not believe in their ability to change their world via regular and simple rituals. Is it a matter of selfishness or ignorance? Or is it (more likely) awareness? Answers may differ, but what is certain is that Moroccan citizens do not seem to have assumed their responsibility towards the well-being of their country.
What should be done about this? I think there is a need for incorporating civic education effectively into our schools. Also, setting up a national organization specialized in voluntarism may also be of great importance. Our citizens should grasp the full meaning of citizenship and serve the country accordingly. To volunteer has become, I believe, a national duty similar to defending one’s country during tough times of war. After all, we are under heavy fire of illiteracy, poverty etc.
Our citizens should wake to the glaring fact that widespread social ills along with other related problems are to a great extent a mere reflection of their carelessness and lack of civic-mindedness.
To love one’s country goes beyond staying at home and watching a football match played by the national team, and then showing anger or even crying over its defeat, or exploding with joy over its victory. The bitter defeat, my countrymen, that we are experiencing is dirty cities, illiteracy, and most importantly lack of civism in the hearts and the minds of Moroccans.
In contrast, U.S. citizens do not pass the buck to their government. They are aware that their country has huge financial resources to address social and economic needs, but they are also equally aware that the government alone cannot do the whole job. Let us have a quick glance at what U.S. Citizens have done. According to the Corporation for National and Community Service, a federal agency that has already claimed to help more than 5 million Americans improve the lives of their fellow citizens through service:
– In 2011, the number of volunteers reached its highest level in five years, as 64.3 million Americans volunteered through an organization, an increase of 1.5 million from 2010.
– Americans overwhelmingly volunteered in schools or with other youth organizations, working to advance the lives of young people.
– Nearly three out of five volunteers aged 25-54 are parents to children who are under 18. These parents volunteered well above the national average, focusing on helping fill local needs while also serving as role models—showing their children that community involvement is a critical choice and habit that can improve lives.
But what about we Moroccans, citizens of a country with limited natural resources? There must be crisis in understanding of the meaning of both citizenship and love of one’s country.
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