I’ve been having trouble sleeping this past week. Every night.
I go to bed and there is an underlying feeling of guilt that keeps creeping up on me.
It chokes me.
Makes me lay there at night for hours on end.
There are dizzying ideas circling in my head.
I know what it is. Until today could not admit it.
For the last few years, and especially for the last few weeks, I have betrayed my principles and ignored my instincts.
I used to be very content in my comfortable position as an honorary member of the silent majority: the operative word being silent.
Well, I realize today that I cannot be silent anymore. I cannot sit on the sidelines anymore.
This is the opportunity I have been waiting for all my life.
For the first time (and probably only time in my lifetime) there is a genuine debate about the rights and obligations of the Jordanian citizen. There is a genuine and real discussion about what the Jordanian citizen can expect from the state and what his obligations are towards it.
For too long I have complained that the Jordanian citizen is disrespected by the state. For too long I have complained that the Jordanian citizen is treated as an ignorant fool. For too long I have complained that the Jordanian citizen is taken for granted, that the Jordanian citizen’s rights are abused, that the Jordanian citizen is taken for a ride, and that the Jordanian citizen takes it all quietly.
Well this is not the time to be quiet anymore. It is the time to stand up and speak. It is the time to share ideas. It is time to help shape the nation that we have all dreamed of.
It is time to speak. Not to provide any answers- God knows I have none! However it is time to speak to let the voice of the silent majority be heard. It is time to speak to make sure that everyone knows that there is something to be said.
If we don’t speak now then we will (rightly) lose our right to express our views. Forever. You cannot demand freedom of expression and not express yourself when given the chance. You cannot demand the right to participate and then hide at home when the doors of participation are flung open. You cannot demand rights if you don’t stand up for them!
Therefore in the current debate about reform I share my two cents worth:
– There is no reform when there are “relative” rights. My right to freedom of expression cannot be guaranteed “so long as it is within the confines of the law”. Laws must make way to constitutional rights – not the other way round. There is universal acceptance of the inalienable rights of human beings. These rights are no longer debatable. They are a given and our constitution should enshrine these universal rights.
– Constitutional rights mean nothing if there is no independent body in charge of safeguarding them. A constitutional court with judges appointed for extended (possibly life) terms is a must.
– There is no reform without a clear, fair and transparent election law.
– There are no elections without an independent supervisory and oversight board.
– A system of checks and balances is a must. The judiciary must be independent, respected and empowered. Judges are guardians of citizens and state, they must be elevated in status and stature.
– Reform means nothing if corruption is tolerated. In the recent past rampant corruption at all levels in Jordan and that has eroded any confidence in the system. It is imperative to plug the holes, punish the culprits and restore trust.
– The time of reform is now. We cannot afford to lose months. We cannot afford to lose weeks. If we move at a snail’s pace then the times will pass us by, leaving us in the wake of its destruction.
These are my thoughts. I have spoken and I don’t want to sleep anymore!