One of Egypt’s dilemmas is the mental gap in our minds between reality on the ground and our desires! This gap is widening because of our tendency to build on fantastic, unrealistic ideas of our own creation while neglecting the ‘Ugly Truth’ that we need to address. The series of youth conferences organized by the Egyptian government summarizes this dilemma. The entire Egyptian State, headed by the President of the Republic, is engaging with our youth to ‘inspire’ them – while taking no notice of the everyday reality confronting them.
Egypt’s youth conferences are, in essence, an illusory idea that has become even more fantasized by being turned (simply by inviting youth from many countries) into a ‘World Forum’. Are our youth’s challenges resolved in the wake of these conferences? Certainly not; our State doesn’t see eye to eye with our youth, it hasn’t even managed to recognize their true needs yet. Young people’s thought processes, along with their knowledge, are tuned into a completely different channel than that of the older generation of Egyptians that has been ruling our country for decades.
Egypt’s key criteria for success are often expressed through “propaganda activities”. The better we are able to run larger conferences wherein participants work on exchanging perspectives, networking and having fun, the more we can claim that the event is a success. Not only does the Egyptian State imagine that it will be able to mobilize its youth by impressing them with a forum, it also believes that it can influence young people from other nations. The reality is that each party is deceiving the other for the duration of the few days of the forum.
Expending efforts on winning our youth over to the older generation’s outlook is a waste of time and energy; young people need to experience life’s reality firsthand, and then adapt their thinking and behavior, if needed. However, Egyptian youth cannot go through this experience because the older generation not only dominates most key political and economic positions, it also, more significantly, imposes its old-school thinking, hoping to ensure the continuity of its philosophy beyond the present.
The Egyptian government claims that it is engaging in a dialogue with youth. In reality, the forum’s slogan, “We need to talk”, is more an expression of the State’s desire to strengthen and consolidate its paternal approach. Egyptian society generally is not overly skilled in engaging in genuine dialogue; our society is driven by a ‘top-down’ approach wherein our youth are often at the bottom of the ladder. Meanwhile, international celebrities or foreign executives cannot help us to resolve problems that we have ourselves initiated.
In a nutshell, Egyptian youth want better jobs, comfortable homes, decent means of transportation, and so on down a long list of basic needs. Getting together with them for few days won’t help to realize their ambitions – but it will satisfy the government’s desire to mark a task off its list. Additionally, the Egyptian government’s tactic of diluting and minimizing the challenges faced by our youth will do nothing to resolve them.
Being a truly ambitious society is completely different from desiring to succeed! The former requires a serious dedicated scientific approach that could conclude in true achievement, while the latter is a matter of baseless wishful thinking. Genuine achievements don’t need any politicization; they fly on their own – whereas spending money on promoting a longing won’t make it come true.
The substantial costs involved in running the World Youth Forum for almost a week could have been offered to young Egyptians to help make their dreams come true. Even if private companies covered the forum costs, reallocating these funds to their business expenditures could certainly have contributed to additional youth employment – which is definitely more useful than generating false propaganda. The Egyptian state is governing through a path that never crosses the channel its youth is tuned into. Properly reading one another requires goodwill, not a large fancy forum attended by international celebrities.