By Nicholas Contompasis
If you’re old enough to remember, back in 1969, here in the United States the median age was 26 and we had riots, assassinations, political turmoil and a crime rate that most thought couldn’t possibly get any higher. Since then, as our median age increased to now 37, our crime rate has tumbled, assassinations are mere talking points in history classes and riots, so far, can only be found on videos on the Internet.
Riots, assassinations and general political turmoil come with the territory when your country is young. It’s just a fact of life that most mature nations are forced to put up with, as they gaze from afar, hopefully. This pubescent period unfortunately, can last as long as ten years. The fallout from this turmoil can get out of hand and lead to major wars both regional and global, so these new developments in the Middle East are indeed troubling and should be watched closely.
The Middle East and North Africa are currently experiencing a prominent youth-bulge. An illustration of this bulge can be found in the median age in countries like Egypt of 24, Tunisia 30, Yemen 18, Turkey 28, and Iran 26. That leaves an average for the region of 25 years old. Contrast this with a median age in the United States of 37 now, which is on average 50% older than the now turbulent Middle East.
It all sounds so simple when laid out in anthropological and statistical logic, but people are dying and more will die before this period in the Middle East has had a chance to mature. Of course, we all pray it doesn’t kill any of us in the meantime.
So, if you’re wondering what it’s like to be on the streets of Cairo this evening, just jog your memory, if you can these days, and take yourself back to the streets of Washington D.C. Remember how you felt marching down Pennsylvania Avenue towards the White House screaming “Stop the War.” I do. Remember the youthful bonding that galvanized your emotions along with the thousands around you. Or maybe you were in Baltimore, Philadelphia and Los Angeles helping burn down local white businesses that charged twice the going rate for a loaf of bread, right after the MLK assassination. No matter, it comes with youth, the rage, the impatience and the demand for change.
Let’s all hope and pray that these days of Middle Eastern growing pains don’t kill us all before they pass on into adulthood.
Oh, and one last comment. Mexico’s median age is 27, so buckle up.