Last week was my second attempt to take part in the youth activities that are being held in the capital nowadays. But regardless of the activity itself, I am afraid that there are no people in their 30s in this country anymore.
Either because they were avoiding military service, or wanted by the government’s security forces, most of my friends have fled the country, and now a whole generation is abroad, working, studying or trying to do both of those things.
Five years ago there was this kind of festive unity that gathered young people and activists in Damascene society. We used to manage to come together in a spontaneous manner just because we shared the same principles and dreams. Now, after the huge pressures we’ve been under and the failed attempts to bring about change, a massive section of young people has been forced out, leaving the ground open for the 90s generation.
I spend my time around young people in their early 20s and the same feeling of distance between us comes back every time. At such times, I wish I could find some kind of documented diary or a film of some past war, to see how the people reacted to the issue of migration then, and to see how that new generation reacted to what was happening.
But the case of Syria is a different one. There was a revolution in this country before the vicious war started, now mixed up with so many accusations and political misinformation. So now I look at the new generation, those who were still in high school when we were out in the streets being shot at while demanding freedom. They’re on the very opposite side of where we were when we were their age. And most of them do not have any interest in knowing about exactly what happened.
In Damascus you find energetic youth trying to live their life away from all the headaches that have befallen them over the past five years. Now, all they want is to live independently, happily, free of any political pressure, and they are willing to do the maximum to achieve their dreams. While I stand astonished by the amount of energy and determination they have when it comes to planning for their future, I also easily see many 30-year-old people drowning in despair and hopelessness when looking at the near future of this country.
I suppose the post-revolution generation will take a whole different path. Since the war is taking over, they naturally go in the opposite, full-of-life, direction – unlike us, the ones who have been dedicated to the cause since 2011, and who paid a huge price for it.
I don’t blame them, it’s the natural cycle of life. But a feeling of sorrow hits me every once in a while. We started something, and regardless of the reasons why, we were not able to finish it. I can’t tell if any change will come at the hands of this new generation any time soon, especially since most of them will leave the country after graduation, evading military service, just like the ones before them.
Of course, this is a generalization. I’m speaking my mind here, drawing from my experience and feelings, and, I must say, now that all my friends are abroad, I have a few friends in their early 20s with whom I barely notice the age difference. What’s more, I’m starting to learn from this new generation that I can still plan, dream and act on it.