Moroccan Generational Investment
By abdelwahab khaldi
As it is the case for most intellectual conversations revolving around Morocco, ours ended up with a fervent discussion on the future of the country.
The good thing about cafe Mozart on the upper East side of Manhattan, is that it is always lively with people.. Tons of energy in that place. So as our conversation became rather loud, we didn't attract any attention form our neighboring tables.
The highlight of the conversation was the way, we Moroccans, invest more in our parents than our children. The past seems to be more important than the future. Certainly, this is not to say that children are neglected, but parents are often placed ahead, in terms of resource allocation. This constitutes a rather interesting irony. While children in the vast populas are supposed to be an insurance package in a society where organizational safety nets are scarce, they are not invested in as they should be.
Someone in our table suggested that this was a poverty issue. However, a quick look into how rich families function demonstrates otherwise. One can put priorities before one's children, and get away with it, but one is more likely to be socially reprimanded if parents are not prioritized. One needn't go too far to experience first hand the marginalization of children in the Moroccan society. They are practically absent from historical texts, myths, movies, theses, and dissertations. They often have to be quiet in the presence of guests, and generally recognized only when utilized for errands here and there.
So the inevitable question here is: How are you supposed to progress as a society if you are investing more in your past than your future? The very notion of progress is a very interesting one indeed in Morocco. Progress as a process requires flexibility, and flexibility involves change. The word change itself has bad connotations within the Moroccan society. When you want to diplomatically reprimand someone, you tell them that they "have changed". You look them in the eye and say "tbeddalt!!" (You have changed). While in progressive societies, this is more linkely to be a positive thing, in Morocco, it can't be good.
We are sure this subject has countless paths it can take, and we are not trying to find answers at this point. However, The idea of past/parents vs future/children raises the big question of what kind of society we all want? One based on the past? focusing more on how great our ancestors were and burying our present there? or should we go with the famous saying "Life goes on", and look up to the future by investing in our children.
By abdelwahab khaldi
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