Sunday, March 27, 2011
The frequently televised appearances of verbose politicians and angry people pointing towards the errors and discrepancies that have caused the break-down of our countries engine on one channel, and the totally contrasting blonde babes carrying “Change!” placards in democratic conventions in USA on another channel (read: CNN), have left a new toy for us to toy with; we have all been given a voice. And we all have suddenly become opinionated. We raise our heads high and we rattle our throats, and out comes the cacophony that can very well be expected from a massively illiterate and horrifyingly diseased society, the meshwork of whose problems has went on to envelope and then castrate every sector of our nation. The united voice is not pointing at a solution, it isn’t even pointing at the basic problem. But it is for sure giving an indication to where does the Pakistani predicaments start from; the society! The voice hasn’t been deciphered and hence has been misinterpreted. It doesn’t yell for economic reforms, better health care systems and proper legislations when it yells for them. It calls out for someone to medicate it; like when a mad-man starts calling out for his elephant with a golden crown it means it’s time for his medicine!
The change we all so yearn for deeply is brazenly laid on the shoulders of a leader, preferably religious, while ignoring the responsibilities we face as the elementary constituents of this society. Economists in collaboration with social scientists believe society and economics belong to the same fabric; bringing change in one leads to a concurrent change in the other. As economic reforms are ostensibly invisible in the near-future, shouldn’t we step up and shoulder the task of bringing a social change? Out of the million corrections possible the following might help improve our society and nation at large and equip us with the muscle to take a fresh, and better, step forward.
AND WHEN THE SKIES DESCEND…
Cry o nation cry! Bleed o people bleed! Help o lord help! Burqas have been banned in France. Construction of minarets has been forbidden in Switzerland. Caricatures of our Prophet are drawn with utter disrespect in Norway (and a hundred other countries). People call us terrorists. They make fun of our beards and caps. Our laws are called barbaric. Oh all and sundry! Come mourn! Our religion is under fire, Islam is under attack!
Wait please. Re-wind. And time for a little reality check I guess. Are “liberal” western women allowed to wear their choice of dresses anywhere in the Muslim Middle East? Don’t we laugh our guts out whenever we hear about Kaali Maata or that monkey god with his tongue out? Our religious school-books, certified by the Government authorities, leave no stone unturned in mocking other faiths and teaching hatred. What is done to minorities in our country under the Blasphemy law is very well known. Churches and homes of non-Muslims are torched without any check because we, being the religious despots, have the license to loot and plunder whatever we want under the false pretext of religion. The question is, when we disrespect other religions with a blatant disregard, make fun of their Gods and rituals, don’t let them practice their ideology no matter how absurd; does the Oh-so-Holy talk of them being disrespectful to us remain even valid? Where does the concept of give respect get respect vanish in this scenario?
If we want our religion to be respected, we better start showing tolerance towards other faiths too. That doesn’t mean celebrating Holi or Easter day at our homes, it just requires a bit of acceptance from our parts and letting them live their way. If we, as widely & proudly said, are so correct and right then their lifestyles shouldn’t be affecting us. Religion is a personal (or social) choice, nothing to be mocked at or made fun of. During the course of molding our identities on the lines of religious boundaries, we have somehow forgotten that before being Jews, Muslims, Atheists or Christians; we are, for one, all human beings and totally worthy of equal respect and justice.
GENDER-BIAS: THE FACT & THE FICTION:
Of the countless clichés of the 20th-21st century, none can be as prolific and widely used than the struggle for women rights. Just as our generation set off on the modern-day “quest to be cool” and pulled with them into the furnace anything under the sun that seemed “cool” enough to them, women rights also was made to join the club. And hence thereafter talking about the plight of women-folk and concepts of gender equality wasn’t an indication of morality or justice, it was just another signal of the speaker being “cool”. In our country, the struggle doesn’t seem to be a struggle anymore; it’s an obnoxiously crafted and contemptuously run business that means building up meaningless institutions, hiring women who are self-proclaimed rebels of the society, and publishing statistics in their weekly, monthly or annual newsletters. In short, doing nothing to actually alleviate the poorer than miserable state of women in our country. We are all so proudly told that there are 76 women in the parliament. And 4 in the direct combat roles of PAF. And how (??) rape victims (read: Mukhtaran Mai) were led to the doors of justice. Does that mean that the remaining 86.7 million women are living in the same luxuries and enjoying the same respect from the society?
We need to understand that passing legislations and citing statistical improvements doesn’t improve the status of the “everyday” woman in the eyes of the “everyday” man. A lady walking by the road will still be scanned from head-to-toe. A random female ID on Facebook will still receive 32 friend requests daily. 80% of our households will still endorse the physical abuse of wives on the notions of maintaining “social-order”. Refrain from reporting harassment at workspace will continue prevailing to preserve a woman’s “honor”. Putting aside the television phenomenon, we should be taught from the grass-root level how women have their distinct identities and attributes, totally different from men and yes, very good attributes indeed, and they need and deserve to be respected for that. Women need not be gauged by a meter that’s made on the lines of masculinity. And before being egoistic men and stressing on them the need and use of purdaah, the realization should be made that the same religion Islam also makes purdaah mandatory for men; the purdaah of eyes that is not photo scanning women like we all do so unashamedly. A pretty woman, working alongside you at your workplace, is a pretty woman later; she is a professional woman first. Iran is always there as an example where women play football at Olympics, win medals in Taekwondo and go on to scale Mount Everest, all with their heads and bodies covered totally on lines of their cultural conventions. That’s called following religion and being practical at the same time. That’s called having a vision and progressing ahead without making culture an inhibition. That’s called, change!
WORK, WORK AND WORK…
“Mubarik ho yaar teray bhai ki nokri lag gai! Kesi chal rahi ha?” “Zabardast! Fit nokri hai yaar, saara din AC k neechay betha rehta ha, aik do sign maarta ha aur araam se 1 lac pesay b kama leta ha! Aur to aur us k neechay 50 log kaam kartay hain!”
Whether it’s a consequential inferiority complex injected in our race thanks to the British rule or an unsatisfied desire to somehow achieve any sort of control over any number of individuals, it is hard to tell. But the undisputed hallmarks of an excellent job remain being highly inactive at work and vexingly authoritative over a particular number of people. The concepts of Iqbal that are narrated to us as being the prerequisites of a bonafide Pakistani (read: Muslim) are flushed away as the paradigm of “sleeping in the work chair” emerges over the horizon of our petty fore-sights. Sociologists believe people of a deprived group, that includes the majority of our public, follow a quest for the resource that is least available and the most desirable; which undoubtedly for our society is “authority/status”.
When the need of being superlative supersedes the need of being honest and hardworking, the results are very well reaped in the form of professional and ethical incompetency leading to a state of mass disarray. Our professional vistas are blatant examples of the above fact; us being the instrumentalists and audience both in this appalling theatre of putrescence and recession.
We need to contemplate the reality that our countries coming into being on the 27th of Ramadan is not reason enough to help us progress in the modern world. Industrial, economic and social growths require more than just religious fervor. Out attitude towards work and workmanship has to be completely overhauled and reconstructed on the notions of loyalty-to-work and refusal-to-quit. Only when each and every Pakistani starts sweating for the progress of this country, the “change” we all yearn for will start unfurling its wings. Blaming it all on the complacency of “leaders” and their ineptness won’t serve the right purpose. The truth goes just like Napoleon Hill said “Do not wait; the time will never be "just right'. Start where you stand, and work with whatever tools you may have at your command, and better tools will be found as you go along”.
The time has come for us to identify the cancer within our individual selves, the plaque that has imbibed itself within the unbending maxims of our social order. Only when we emerge as a healthy and progressive society, which is prepared to push itself into the practical realms of the world, can we see the beacons of growth in egression. Will Durant’s observation can very well explicate our current situation: “No great civilization is lost, until it has been eaten away from the inside”.