By Zack Noureddine
The Canadian student community lacks depth in the understanding necessary to voice opinions on foreign issues, even in a world where the horrors of contemporary conflicts and crisis are broadcast across every screen and newspaper frontpage.
As young Canadian adults, we fail to realize that issues beyond our waters, the latest of events in Syria and the Kenyan hostage crisis, possess a relevant Canadian connection. We obliviously undermine the bigger picture. It’s easy to be apathetic of topics that don’t hit home. But there is trouble in activism when constituted grounds to do so are not provided – our dissent is met with ignorance.
We are quick to speak out against Parliament’s latest foreign decision – the motion to provide aid to the Kenyan government – with no sufficiency to back up our criticism; many don’t know that two Canadians were of the 68 claimed killed by Al-Shabab on Sept. 23. We call the Somalia-based terrorist organization a foreign problem before learning of the group’s strategy to recruit home-grown radicals within our borders.
Our displeasure with the now-late question of U.S. military aggression against the Assad regime lost credibility when an online game-based survey conducted by UsVsTh3m proved that less than 50 per-cent of North American students cannot pin point Damascus’ geographic location. Yet we take to inflammatory Facebook statuses and 140-character tweets with close-minded, opinionated outbursts. How can one question whether or not our American neighbors can legitimately intervene in Syria, without knowing where it is? What is a credible response to our government’s action to tackle or downplay the fears of widespread terrorist radicalization in response to Kenya without a proper comprehension of the entire issue?
Social networking sites such show evidence of where our generation’s concerns lie, and they are in the wrong place.
Twitter‘s weekly trend list indicates that social infatuation with the latest of Miley Cyrus‘ viral stunts and frustration towards Ben Affleck’s casting for Batman’s new film adaption continuously toss #Syria and #Kenya down the ladder of relevance.
Awareness doesn’t necessarily mean we must picket the front gates of the American Embassy on Sussex Drive with anti-war slogans, nor does it mean we must take to Parliament’s front-lawn in anger with foreign management; we aren’t obliged to speak out or take action.
And if we do plan to take action, wouldn’t sending a well composed letter to a local MP with your concerns and opinions be a more logical approach? The likelihood of a response is small, but it is a more effective approach in every conceivable way.
As we enter the career world, we will be expected to show some peace of mind towards events within and beyond our borders.
In the national capital’s student community, one can become involved with campus-based groups like the Syrian Student Association of Ottawa (SSAO) to discover how contemporary events such as the on-going Syria crisis affect us and how to promote awareness.
We can’t address the world’s pressing questions if we continue to avoid the actual facts, or else our credibility as young adults will be doomed. It’s better to know and not take action than it is to not know at all. The least we can do is become aware.