WITH the very fast changes taking place in the Kingdom and the wider region, and the increasing ideological threats targeting young people, there is a need to be aware. People should be politically aware. This involves recognizing one’s rights and responsibilities as citizens, understanding events and having the ability to analyze and link them with other events, the Kingdom’s interests and the benefits to wider society. There are many factors that are responsible for building the social and political awareness of the young. These include families, education and the media.
How well families fulfill this duty depends on how aware parents are of their society, the Kingdom, the issues affecting the region and the country, their education and how often they read and encourage their children to read.
As for education, this begins at school and involves the books children read, the curriculum they undergo and the teaching that takes place. After school comes the responsibility of universities. It is very important for university students to engage in different activities inside and outside the university and to interact with society and participate in events. It is also important for universities to offer students a good environment to engage in and to encourage them to be responsible and active members of society. The media has been and always will be a crucial factor in building awareness in societies. Media institutions like TV, radio and newspapers used to be the only sources of information for people. However, with technology so advanced today and social media being the number one source of information for most people, we need to realize that new media is playing a noticeable role in building political awareness among Saudi youth. It has given them a voice that they did not previously know they had.
Why is political awareness so important? By being politically aware, people can become loyal and good citizens because the loyalty of those who are aware is superior to the loyalty exhibited by the ignorant. Being aware, in general, breaks the walls built by ignorance and the fear of the other. Awareness allows people to accept differences and recognize their responsibilities and rights as citizens. Real citizenship is not built on individuality, but on membership in society, accepting everyone on the basis that we all share the same space, rights and responsibilities. Awareness makes people good citizens and good citizens are against all types of extremism, discrimination or disloyalty.
The other important reason is that aware citizens are able to have a voice and to actively engage in decision-making, using the tools they have at their disposal. This helps in developing both the country and society, and benefits everyone.