We have to admit that we are at a stage of self-assessment, self-reflection and quite an historic moment of change.
Regardless of where anyone stands on reform and whether they bear a sign, wave a flag or only watch TV, Jordanians are aware of the value of their voice at this moment and therefore are being loud and demanding. So loud in fact, that the message was drowned in the accompanying noise.
As the countdown to my weekly column began my head started churning information collected during the week to try to build a theme.
This week seemed particularly insane, with accusations that youth reform demands are being hijacked by the Islamist movement and counter-accusations that the government is behind the stumbles along the road to reform.
Hidden forces were being accused of whipping the fear of “alternative homeland” into a frenzy to mobilise the otherwise politically uninformed mobs that toured the streets believing that calls for change challenged the viability of the Jordanian Monarch and Jordan.
What are the demands for reform? Can they be reduced to the assigned task of the reform committee on political parties and the elections law?
Why isn’t the opposition articulating a reform map that clearly communicates socio-economic steps to improve the performance of the government itself as well as that of Jordanian civil society and nongovernmental organisations? Why isn’t the government’s reform effort inclusive of all sectors of society and, most importantly, of the youth - who led the demands for reform - and women who are the most disenfranchised sector, socially and economically?
What is the value system - political, social and economic - that we Jordanians, as government and people, adhere to and want to utilise as a baseline for moving forward during our reform mission?
There is a great deal of noise that seems to be generated by the lack of articulation. Not only from the opposition, which clearly has found new political horizons, but evidently does not yet have the political maturity, experience and, dare I even say, the vision to mobilise towards a clear agenda that meets people’s aspirations.
The lack of articulation is louder from the government, which speaks of its goodwill but then fails to include any young, energetic experts in its ranks, and forms a reform committee that has a mishmash of politicians and technical individuals without the political clout to elevate the committee to its apparent task of creating political consensus.
Then, to top it all, the government forms a media reform committee and proceeds to bring in the old faces and influences, without even pretending to bring in representatives of the new social media within which a real debate over reform is bubbling.
A genuine will exists among Jordanians to turn the calls for reform into a collective and inclusive effort that doesn’t just listen to voices but goes further and partners with them in the decision-making process.
Jordanians will not support any political renegade calls that usurp the legitimacy of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, but at the same time they will not accept age-old gimmicks of officially sponsored noisy intimidation and shaming the masses into accepting whatever is dished out.
I would hazard a guess and claim that Jordanians want to see an acceptable mix of liberal policies and conservative frameworks to reflect our social aspirations based on respect for the family, humanity, human life and for the citizen, regardless of gender and personal choice. Jordanians want a viable economy that forges ahead with open-market policies to raise its competitiveness but never forgets its responsibility to the marginalised, disenfranchised groups and the poor.
Jordanians want to maintain the Kingdom’s moderate and internationalist foreign policy vision and even expand on it for a respectable regional and international role.
Jordanians want actual training for real jobs and not just an expansion of employment opportunity within the public sector in order to rent supporters.
Jordanians want corruption weeded out completely and in all its forms, which means transparency in all official dealings, including job creation and tendering.
Jordanians want media that respect all Jordanians and their opinions.
Jordanians want to draw the map for a better future and draw it with the leadership within a well-thought-out process that does not allow accusations of outside agency or influence, or at any point questions the loyalty of the participants, regardless of their demands, expectations or ideologies.
Reducing all these aspirations to loud statements about constitutional monarchy, political parties and elections law does not do the Jordanian leadership and people justice and does not begin to encapsulate the extent of their aspirations for their country.
I hope that the opposition and government will dig deeper and extend their arms wider to be able to build the reformed Jordan that we all want, and I hope that all will allow the dialogue to develop, and positively, without trying to influence its outcome prematurely.
*Published in the JORDAN TIMES on Apr. 4, 2011.