There is a popular quote by JF Kennedy – “Don’t ask what the government can do for you. Ask what you can do for your government.”
This quote stands very true in the context of the current events in Afghanistan. In our country, ‘we’ don’t help ‘our government’ to work for ‘us’ and the future of ‘our children’. After having elected the government, we leave all the tasks to them. But have we ever thought of what we can do for the government? Well, we can do anything and everything.
For instance, if we want a green and clean city, it is important that we keep the streets near our house clean and plant a few trees around. If we seek security, we can join our security forces or we encourage our friends and family members to join army or police forces. And even if we can’t join them, we can, at the very least, support them with small amounts of money, or even non-financial help, or encourage them. This show of love and support can help prove to them, to ourselves and most of all to our enemies that our security forces are not risking their lives for nothing, but for the love of their country and the countrymen who support them.
We can work to rebuild our lost and glorious culture by writings by organizing useful events (like the Hamdeli festival conducted on the day of Nowruz this year), by encouraging the people around us and the most importantly by being civilized and cultural ourselves. It is said that the political system can be changed in one night; even the economic system of a society can be changed in one week or one month; but literacy and culture is not something that can be changed very easily and it needs at least a generation to change. But I say why not? Why we can’t strengthen our cultures to how it used to be some years ago before the civil war started. Maybe it needs time, but not a long time like most believe. If we take it upon ourselves to be be good and do good things, I can assure you that in less than five years, we will be the country that every other nation talks about when they talk of good culture. We don’t need to preach morals to others or interfere in their lives; all we need to do is be good with each other.
We don’t need to worry about the public literacy either. Based on a report, which was released by USAID a few days ago “since 2005 the youth literacy rate has increased by more than 16%” and “since 2008, Afghanistan’s nationwide literacy rate has increased by 5%”. Compare this to ten year ago, we have not only have more schools and universities, but they are also better equipped. Our university teachers are more skilled and committed, and our school teachers, at least in the big cities like Kabul, have a bachelor degree. The average results of students at university entrance examinations are much higher today. I remember in 2008, I scored 280 points out of 360 and went to Kabul Polytechnic University where I wanted to study computer science. But today, if a student wants to enroll for the same faculty at KPU, they need to get 320 out of 360 points. Demand for other fields like medical and civil engineering are high too. It means that our next generation of graduated students will be better trained and hardworking. So, if we want a higher percentage of public literacy, all we need to do is focus on our education (and that of those close to us). It is better if we educated our circle instead of worrying about education of someone in north of the country. One of the important factors to have a higher level of public literacy is to be updated with the knowledge of latest and modern sciences and try to educate other people by talking to them or writing informative articles offline and online. I insist on this once again that if we want an educated and developed nation, we have to start with ourselves. As Gandhi, the leader of India, once said, “Be the change you want to see in the world.”
All of these principles are valid for other sectors too. Especially those fields that need skilled people. For example, if you are a chemical engineer, perhaps through hard work and sleepless nights, you can set up a soap factory in Afghanistan so that we don’t have to import less quality soaps from Pakistan and China. Or if you are an agriculture graduated, you can help our farmers to produce more food, so we won’t need to import laboratory-made vegetables from Pakistan and Iran.
Let’s look to ourselves, each one of us has at least one skill or profession which the society needs today. All of us don’t need to be creative; we only need to work hard. Our biggest sin is that even though we know that the government officials need our help to bring change, but we wait for a miracle to happen and for the government to do something good.
Perhaps you may say that there should be someone to be critical of the government. But I say, don’t worry about that because there are always people who criticize the government. How about instead, for a change, let us become united in supporting the government that we elected ourselves and encourage the officials so that our enemies will see that our government is not alone and it has the people’s support too. We also need some of our neighboring countries to understand that Afghans are united in their support to the elected government and they are not allowed to interfere in our policies.
If you really think that there should be someone who criticizes the government, OK, then you can be that critic. But also at least try to support and encourage the government. Why should only see the weakness of our government? Why shouldn’t we promote their good work among our friends? Why are there very few people who are proud of our government? For instance, why aren’t more people rejoicing the good news about the four women who were elected as ministers in the government by the Afghan Parliament? Some of you may say that four women are too few, but let’s be logical. From a dark and black era, today we are here, at a stage where no country in our region can be like us. It is a reason to be proud of our country.
Fortunately yesterday our government was almost complete, and except the defense minister, we now have all ministers who will take the oath to serve the country. It must be noted that the average age of this cabinet is much younger than previous one, and also the average of their skills and education is much higher. This time we don’t have any ethnic leader or warlord as minister. We know that the ministries still are divided based on the groups and ethnics, but at least they have been selected based on their merits.
Let’s support this government for one year and encourage them; let’s give them a shot; let’s stand beside our government in a way that even the high ranking officials are put to shame. It is said that the negative power is always stronger and it will create more negativity around itself. Instead of raising objection, why don’t we start from ourselves? If we are the people who take bribe, let’s don’t take it anymore, or if we are the people who gives bribe, let’s stop it and report the official who ask for bribe.
We have upheld 14 years of fragile peace, and we have always criticized the government over and again. But how many of us have actually helped the government? Have you read about the Soviets who worked for their government for free for a few of months, because the government was in a bad economic situation and couldn’t afford to pay salaries? Or why cant we be like people of Japan, who took helped their government stand up and rebuild after the World War II. It was the common people who created jobs and made a higher income for other people. It was the taxpayers who helped the government to develop. How many of us sometimes can claim to not think of our own benefits but for the public benefits? How many of us think about the future of the country and our children? How many of us work for brotherhood and equality among different ethnic groups? Isn’t it better if we wake up and start supporting the recently elected government? Isn’t if better if all of us start finding solution instead of creating problems? Why we always erase the question, while we know the answer?
Our government is now completed and we can see and track their works. For 14 years we have only made criticisms and objections, so let us for this one year, forget the criticisms and help the government. After one year, if it still doesn’t work, we will go back to raising stronger objections against the government; because it is a democracy and our voices do matter. But for now let’s take each other’s hands and build our country together.