By Moundir Alamrani
Rabat, February 3, 2012
The ideas discussed here are inspired by an interesting and insightful article published on Morocco World News on August 26th, 2011 entitled “What does it mean to be Moroccan?” in which Yassmine Zerrouki problematizes the meaning of being Moroccan and what defines Moroccan identity. The debate boils down to interesting ideas that define us as Moroccans. These include loving our homeland, being proud of belonging to it, and keeping hope in seeing it develop and prosper. I do agree that these are what should define us as Moroccans. If we adhere to them, we will be able to make a step forward.
From another perspective, however, we are also defined as Moroccans by different negative traits. I feel that we can never become a better nation if we do not dispose of these negative qualities that tarnish our collective unconsciousness and affect us negatively.
I choose to do the devil’s work not out of pessimism or cynicism, but out of love for my country and hope for a better future. My article is strictly and honestly meant as constructive self-criticism and as a wake up call to many people who believe in negativity as a style of life. In my opinion, we can never be a better nation unless we rid ourselves of all the bad traits that are holding us back and hindering our nation’s progress.
In a couple of previous articles, I emphasized the role of proactive citizenship in the progress of our country and toppling down corruption. In other words, change comes from within. We can never step forward if we do not stop stepping backwards, and we cannot look at the future through a rear view mirror.
As a matter of fact, my present article does not preach a new creed and it does not claim to teach Moroccan people how to love their country, because they do. History has been keeping records of historic and heroic instances of our love for our country and the sacrifices the Moroccan people have offered for the sake of their homeland. However, we need to open our eyes to certain practices and attitudes that serve no one and nothing. For this reason, I find myself bound to reiterate ideas that I have discussed before.
There are many practices and conducts that have come to define us as Moroccans. In order to be better Moroccans, we need to learn how not to be bad Moroccans. In this way, what it means to be Moroccan and what it means not to be Moroccan are two faces of the same coin. We do not just lack positive attitude and practices; we also need to dispose of what defines us negatively as Moroccans.
We need to learn how to be responsible citizens instead of enjoying the role of the helpless victims. We should stop whining and grumbling and take control of our lives. Only by taking the initiative, can we make a change. Blaming invisible powers for our misery is really not healthy for us as people aspiring for a better future. The conspiracy theory is just a pretext not an excuse.
It is our own way of life that keeps us from planning our future. We waste too much energy in useless interests and activities. Reference here is to one of the most ravishing social diseases we suffer from—sticking our noses in each other’s business. Our society has extraordinarily empowered itself with illegitimate authority to interfere in each and every individual’s personal life. We, as individuals, disdain this practice but we all do the same thing to each other. It is ironic to try and make a difference between society and individuals, because after all society is what individuals make out of it.
So unless we focus our energy on positive things and stop watching and judging each other, there is no chance for us to make a step forward and be a better people living in a better place. We need to learn where our freedom ends and where that of others starts; only then can we be a better people.
Likewise, we cannot claim progress if we keep belittling and criticizing anything and everything. In my article “Development in Morocco and the Enemy From Within,” I talk about people who drain their energy in depreciating Morocco’s slow but steady progress. It is unfortunate to notice that this has become a defining trait of us Moroccans and a recurrent practice that we pass on to our children ad grand-children. It hurts to see people who are supposed to have acquired a high level of moral, social, and intellectual maturity tarnish our country’s image and underestimate any efforts to make a step towards development. These are the enemy from within who are good at nothing but expressing their skepticism and casting their cynicism on us.
Understanding and defining who we are is as important as understanding and defining who we should not be. There is no doubt that we carry strong and deep love for our country and for each other, but the problem is that we keep it sealed and confined within us in favor of other things that vilify our true identity. We should show our love for our country and be proud of being Moroccans. At the same time, we should also cleanse ourselves of many negative traits that have become identical with us. Moroccans are not that bad and they deserve a lot much better than what they have. What it means to be Moroccan and what it means not to be Moroccan lie in our own hands and it is up to us to make of ourselves better people.
Photo by: Luis Sinco/Los Angeles Times