They say parenting is a process where the parent learns more from the child than vice versa. One learns what innocence is again, how to cherish it and how to tackle curiosity in a positive nurturing way. My daughter who is now six tends to ask me the simplest of questions but none of them have answers which I can justify to my own brain let alone try to make sense of them for her. Questions like why do boys get to go fishing in Pakistan when girls want to also, make me think that perhaps I was never given a suitable answer to such a query in the first place without the inclusion of religion and tradition in it. Was it because my parents were utterly sexist and chauvinistic or because we have made it a norm not to question anything in this country, as if everyoneâ€™s doing it it must be fine!
How many times since childhood have we each heard the words â€œThis is how we do thingsâ€Â or â€œ We have always done x in this wayâ€ what do these words mean anyways to a tender mind hearing them? Seems we have included confusion in our mental diet at a very young age and thus tend to nurture it till it becomes a full blown mortal fear restricting us from challenging the status quo when we grow up.
Examples of this unbreakable code of silence are prevalent everywhere around us, if we see someone cheating in an exam we prefer to look the other way then report them and make them pay for what they have done. Our moral compass tends to be so tilted that if we see someone being strong armed we pretend as if we have not seen them rather than get involved. Those that do so for the sake of their own moral values or for some principal of honor which they carry in their foolish heads are usually refereed to by the rest of us as emotional and over aggressive as well as if all else fails â€œcrazyâ€ sorry Zulqarnain we cannot handle the truth.
Thus we have become a nation of sheep, we walk around in herds and try to stick as closely as possible to the ones we identify with not willing or able to break rank or file for anything. If we consider our selves liberal we look down upon people who have the slightest conservative bone in their bodies and tch tch them if they cannot lift a glass with us. If we consider ourselves as religious we regard it as our god given right to look down upon anyone that is not. Hence fall in line with the herd as you are either a â€œmullahâ€ or a â€œmunafiqâ€ nothing in between, no grey areas no flexibility and mutual respect be damned. The same applies to our patriotism as well. As the militants waging a bloody war in our land have to have a reasonable explanation because come on man they are Muslim and oh against India too how bad can they be? We are apologetic of murderers, live in constant denial and are not even willing to face the fact that our country is currently a train wreck in slow motion and we the passengers are so afraid of challenging its destiny that we pretend nothing is wrong.
We justify these lack of emotions and sensibility to each other with phrases like â€œoh we have become immuneâ€ Immune or barbaric I ask? Immune or dependent upon violence and bloodshed to make some sense of the apathy we live in? Where the road to a plane crash (last nightâ€™s) in Karachi is filled with gawkers and ambulance chasers rather than willing civilians wanting to make a difference or save a life? Where we have to come up with fantastical and sometimes paranormal explanations of everything that is has and will go wrong with this nation rather than looking inside our own hearts for faults we are unwilling to question and stand against?
Our various fortune tellers think one day some of us will rise and bring about some sort of revolution led by a savior to end all our evils. Well newsflash! Saviors come from people who are determined to save themselves, not from those who keep their heads down and go about the rat race making sure they are not noticed, because god forbid if someone stops them and asks, they will have to say something which will challenge the system, and then their lives will stop as they will become aware of their own soullessness because they are the system.
PUBLISHED IN THE “DAWN BLOG” ON 13 Dec 2010