Some remarks on the term "Responsibility" in an Arab context
1- Responsibility and Victimisation
In the Arab world there is often a feeling of victimisation associated with the region’s history where international interventions and conflicts have often propagated fear, distrust and instability. Conspiracy theories, whether justified or not, have thus spread and hold sway over public opinions. Consequently, ordinary people never feel politically responsible for what happens to them. It is thus important that we work conceptually over the question of responsibility and highlight the consequences it has on society as a whole.
2- Responsibility, participation and change
The notion of responsibility loses a lot of its meaning when put in a context of political systems that rule out citizen participation and the possibility of change. As citizens, we are responsible for our fate. But citizenship remains a project to be constructed; at present it is only in the private sphere that individuals feel responsible. They are afraid to exercise responsibility in the public sphere and are often victims of self-censorship or a symbolic and fictional wall of oppression which leads them to see the authorities as being responsible for everything!
3- Generations and local and international responsibilities
Two generations take part in the meetings: Young people where any dimension of universalism gives them aspirations and opens up inspirational dimensions and possibilities to them.
Older people, who feel that after so many internationalist dreams and ambitions, it’s time to concentrate on things closer to home. In other words, put local or national work at the forefront of concerns and forget unrealistic ambitions.
Thus the importance lies in bringing work priorities and choices and local and international reflection together, especially when exploring what responsibility means in each case.
4- Collective responsibility and the search for individuality
In our Arab societies, we are faced with a great dilemma: On the one hand, we are searching for some sort of individuality where social, familial and collective structures no longer constrict personal freedom. On the other hand, we have a collective quest: we seek a collective consciousness with which to take action and organise our citizen work. Because responsibility demands both a personal and a collective commitment, it represents an extremely important dynamic from this perspective as it may be a means to resolve this dilemma.