Subject: YOUTH’S ROLE IN THE DEVELOPMENT OF DEMOCRACY IN EAST TIMOR

THE YOUTH'S ROLE IN THE DEVELOPMENT OF DEMOCRACY IN EAST TIMOR

By

Domingos Sarmento Alves

Facing a world in a vertiginous transformation, the social and personal construction in East Timor is indispensable. In a process of transformation that will lead East Timor to peace and tranquility and eventually to a true democratic country, a country that really belongs to all the Timorese people, depends mostly on the participation of the Timorese people itself, especially the youths, to rebuild the country from the total devastation. Participation is the noblest action of exercising democracy. Participation means taking part in decision making to build the future and making decision means having responsibility to whatever the risk as the outcome of those decisions. To make all these become real, there might those in power grant opportunities.

The achievement of new spaces of political and cultural participation of youths, through their juvenile organizations, should play, in this context, a decisive role. These existing organizations should free themselves from any influence or interests (politically, ideologically, or any religious believe) in other to maintain as important social and cultural movements, which take the conscious responsibility for pushing the process of changing and society building. The timorese youths are fighting for gaining a new space of political and cultural participation. In their National Congress, the youths presented a number of alternatives for the solution of some fundamental questions for the future of East Timor. Alternative such as the official language for East Timor is one of the examples. This is a clear indication that the timorese youths are responsible for their own future that the youths denied to be put aside for believing that the future belongs to the youth.

The structural changes will not be possible with passive agents neither with the disruption movements. The latter even endanger the development of democracy. The social and cultural evolution of modern societies produce effects over the life and behavior of the East Timor's youths organizations demanding them to be more dynamic and able to give adequate answer to the evolution of mechanism of participation and dialogue with the governments or those in power. The models of participation, demanded by the modern societies, will impose the youths' organizations new forms of exercising the partaking democracy. A partaking democracy can only be possible in East Timor if the youths and all the timorese people, whatever their age, should always be young to work for the construction of their future, to take part in this great job and accept this mission of constructing a free East Timor: an East Timor for the happiness of all.

The main protagonist of the accelerate process of social transformation lived in this threshold of the third millennium is that the youths now have more opportunities and other privileged means in relation to other previous generations to consolidate the values of democracy and have more spaces of participation or in possessing more ability of taking initiatives. Nevertheless, the youths' participation must be done in political level, in the level of decision-making process. The more the political participation of youths, the bigger will be their responsibility and will be easier to be mobilized to participate in finding solutions for the whole problem of the country. If taking decision is viewed as a choice, then this choice must be based on responsibility. If democracy is more than a way of life, then there only be reason for living in democracy when it is chosen: and the choice can only be rational when the alternatives are known and is based on relevant characteristic of the way of choice which add more values to the one that make choice. An imposed democracy is a dictator. The history and the psychosocial analysis do not show us examples of great phenomenon of human groups in which every element can act rationally.

Nevertheless, educated man has to be able to choose democracy. What I mean by educated man is a man who has educated his consciousness of his rights as a citizen of a country. He has to know the elementary structures of various forms of knowledge, inclusively for being able to share responsibilities; having more responsibility means more critical in making choices and to be more critical must have a broader knowledge and this can be possible only through education (formal and informal).

The participation of the youths in decision-making process cannot be viewed as a matter of negotiations or can neither be viewed as a question of agreement between parties. The youths' participation is a right inherent to the democratic exercise of power and a duty that demands more responsibility of every young East Timorese of their deeds. It is in this context and in the frame of democratic exercises that the youths of East Timor will find the values that become the reference for this new society. Now the responsibility belongs to the youths to generate new source of power and new models of organizing the society and to affirm themselves through concrete proposals. The transformations are done within the system and the credibility is acquired through concrete proposals and full responsibility.

The timorese people can do nothing valid for the future of their country, for a true state of democracy, if before these moments of confusion and uncertainty they install in irresponsibility which will lead to no where but a complete destruction. Every timorese has to take into deep concern the serious problems and the tremendous black cloud of obstacles ahead. The arduous period lays ahead - the life is rude and good rude times are waiting for every timorese - times for tenacious effort, for working hard and persistent. Democracy demands the competence in various aspects of life of every timorese in performing tasks and not to avoid responsibility. No single East timorese will be excluded from the process of reconstruction. The timorese youths should not be prisoners of mythologies that will become the hindrance for their lucidity and efficiency.

The personal and social development in East Timor is the base of all types of development for the future of this country. Almost all democratic countries, although diverge in the ways, they put education in the core of the action and reflection process which should be done in such a way that the youths will not be dropped to the edge of their own future but will form, in the very beginning, become the main actors of their future and be critical of the coming society that can be developed in solidarity.

The education is more than just a transmission of knowledge. It must enable the youths to handle the problems of life that related to the families, friends and the society that promote their development in various aspects. It is important to put again the school in the center of the process of the action and reflection which has to be done so that the youths are not dropped to the edge of their own future but constitute, in the very beginning, as principal actors and critics of their own destiny and the coming societies that must be developed on the base of solidarity and democracy.

Although democracy is almost unanimously accepted as the best political system for nations and states, it does not happen paradoxically in the way of functioning of a great number of organizations where people do their work and develop their life.

If democracy is defined as a way of life, then it contains values, which are taught by elders to the new generations. This process takes place from generation to generation, which is known as education both formally or informally. The transfer of the cultural values which can be translated as imposing the ways of thinking, of feeling and of behaving by the old generation to the newer generation. Therefore, the future of a country or a state depends on the active role of its youth. In order to participate actively in the process of developing democracy, it depends on the quality of human resource. The quality of human resource can solely be reached through education. So the development of democracy depends on the development of the quality of human resources or in other words, the main target is the youth, for any young generation is the product of the overall sociability, which take place in a certain society.

It must be a tool that enable the youths to reanalyze and to go deeper into the ideas and concepts which have been thought long time ago as democracy and human right itself and demand positive orientations in terms of tolerance and multiculturalism. The education of values that is intended here not only limited itself in passing knowledge to the younger generations but more than that is the development of human being as whole.

East Timor has entered in a process of reconstruction and transformation that can lead to a true democratic country, a country that really belongs to all the Timorese people. In this process of reconstruction, obviously the education plays a particular role because it is from the youths of today that will come East Timor of tomorrow. The youths have to walk ahead and have to invent their own future. Certainly, the role of education as well as the cultural creation is inserted in economic development sector, in a wider creation of wealth, in the promotion of social justice and in the establishment of a true democratic regime.

In order to make them possible, however, all the Timorese should leave behind the limitations inherited by the past. It is important for the Timorese public opinion to have deep consciousness of the present and the course that should be traced. This situation left by almost five hundred years of Portuguese colonialism and nearly twenty-four years of Indonesian brutal occupation, is very serious because the colonialism destroyed the Timorese culture systematically. The public opinion has to know the role that the education and culture perform necessarily in the genesis of a new East Timor. More than that, the public opinion should cover the present situation and to know the course of the coming necessities of working hard with no exception to any East Timorese due to the extremely weighed burden which was left by colonialism. In fact, we are short of materials and lack dramatically the human resources.

Wherever in this face of globe, the youths become the main factor of changing. In France revolution, in China, in South Korea, in Philippine, in Indonesia are some of the examples of the countries where the youths play a most important role for changing. The politicians explore this situation as a tool for reaching their objectives. In a competitive way, they try to win the sympathy of the youths in supporting them for reaching their objectives and East Timor's youth is not an exception. It is known that the youths are the main pillar for changing in a certain country whether for worst or for better.

When we talk about development of democracy we refer to the changing situation as the result of the implementation of the values of democracy. Every renewed cultural value that reigns in a certain society produce new models of life and consequently cause new ways of thinking, of feeling and of action, that is the development of personality towards the quality that is required.

The development of democracy in East Timor will depend on various sectors of development, which are quite interrelated. The development of democracy cannot be isolated from other sectors of development. Education and health care, for example, are two of the main sectors that play important role in the development of democracy in East Timor that I would like to emphasize here in this article.

Without decreasing the role of other sectors, the development of the quality of human being, as the central factor for changing, depends on the development of these two sectors. In this particular case, I refer to the ability of being critical and being hunger for searching adequate answers for the coming problems of the country, especially the issue of democracy. In this way, every timorese can participate actively in the reconstruction of East Timor. Once every timorese participate actively in the development of every aspect of life, it proves that the timorese people are quite responsible for developing their country, a country that really belongs to all the Timorese people. To make all of these become real there might opportunities granted by those in power.


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