Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Losing my religion - 2

"Losing my religion" needs an explanatory note before unforgiving public opinion descends. I mixed some issues, and here I separate them:

1 - Pakistani people are in interesting times. Having battled our unfair associations with all kinds of -isms especially the recent talibanism and then terrorism, and socialism etc. in the past, we are now facing a peculiar kind of identity crisis. This is the lose/win identity crisis solution as I'd put it: take my identity and run, because I longer want to associate with what I have been associated with. Thank you. The world keeps spinning, and I dunno who and where I am.

2- Thanks to our clever manipulation of Pakistanis' id in specific and Muslim id in general, we are rapidly shedding off our skins. I understand it's not right to be parochial and dogmatic - but how right is it to lose a sense of self? Example in context - the Pope's death is all over the world's media. How about if some Muslim thinker died? Could we mourn him without feeling that we are causing an excess?

3- Lets keep religion totally out of the discussion. Overall, I find an over-emphasis on political correctness and thoughtlessness. To have an opinion on the society's superficialness, it's rapid marginalizations, the crazy degenration of its media and the non-sensical copy/paste identities of our people - etc. Who needs to talk about these issues when there is an investment boom? How ugly would it be to talk about ecological balance when ports are developing? Labor rights when private corporations are riding on the boom? Greed and fear when the stock exchanging is climbing like alcohol in a thermometer? Ethical standards when journalists are openly erasing the line between journalism and advertising?

4- The case in point for me is my own fear in exploring this feeling of mine. I must admit I already feel a hail of stones and, au contraire, a loud, "aye aye, absolutely correct" - and I wonder how much of it really is thoughtful?

In one line, I summarize thus: I advocate neither closing up nor opening up in naivete. I don't feel comfortable. I must be allowed to think and to express my opinion. And I should be free to object to that which I consider wrong and which I do not want to see marching under the banner of positivity, development, and progress.

1 comment:

  1. The search for an identity, apart from one associated with your convictions and principles, is shallow -- relative at best.

    The problem with this quest is that it will bring you no...what is the word? Absolution. The human race's history is nothing but deja vu ad nauseum. Times change but we don't. A negative way of looking at progress is that it is nothing more than the the discovery or invention of new tools and techniques for committing new follies that fit the ages.

    Our aspirations, our ambitions, our ideas, our goals never really change. We just adapt our manifestation of them according to the era. Half a millenium ago, "Colonization" was the word; 500 years later you refer to it as "Globalization". Only the lexicon has changed, the meanings within have not. Barbaric wars between armies facing each other have been replaced by high-tech weapons in which the opponents simply don't see each others faces -- remote controlled destruction. The agrarian-based feudal system has given way to industrial and commercial capitalism. Three decades ago, letting your hair down and wearing trousers was in. Two decades ago, covering up was the order of the day. Now jeans and nice hair-dos are back in style again.

    Don't confuse welfare with political correctness. Torture is politically incorrect; creative information extraction techniques are in vogue.

    The reason I find the search for an identity shallow is because everything around me is constantly changing. I have no reference point per se that allows me to seek and claim an identity. Take our relations with our arch-enemy (India) for example. For half a century we had clearly drawn battle lines and we knew everything there was to know about "us vs. them." There were no gray areas. Suddenly in a few blinks, loyalities have shifted, priorities are realigned with the advent of the new millenium in the face of a mercurial globo-political system. Yesterday's enemies are today's friends and more ironically, people whom we were actively supporting for decades are suddenly persona non grata, the hunted. Who's to say whether we were right then and wrong now, or wrong then and right now -- or more so -- right then and right now, or wrong then and also wrong now?

    How many people do you think sought identities in those circumstances? How many people do you think thought they knew which side of the line they were on? Where do you think they stand today? Or take our-Western neighbor for example: Afghanistan. The very government that our establishment nurtured and put into place over years has been dismantled and is being hunted down and wiped out by the very same establishment, because it is the need of the hour. What a morbid irony! Yesterday's heroes are now today's villains.

    This picture that I have painted was over a span of -- what? A few decades? Now let me step back and give you a wider view, over centuries and millenia. Every few hundred years, nations will rise and fall, borders will be redrawn again and again, civilizations will come and go, sworn blood enemies will become indispensable allies, and long-standing comrades will become victims, empires will come into existence and perish. Wars will be fought, peaces will be made. Constitutions and all man-made laws are mere tools of convenience that allow systems to be put into place that serve the needs of the hour. Place no faith or belief in any constitution, except The One by God, because ours will change in the blink of an eye. Concepts like "liberties", "freedom", "rights", "justice", "sovereignty" as defined by any human being or system can be changed (or the word is "twisted" to indicate its vile implications) the moment it goes against the group in power, the establishment. This is our history-immemorial, in a nutshell.

    In such circumstances, don't try to be a hero, don't take sides, and don't try to unnecessarily find who you are. Don't try to identify yourself with anything, any cause, any group, any system, that is not within your control to define. Because the day it changes, there's no telling where you will end up and you will end up questioning your own beliefs. You may be all the better for it --or you may suffer for it.

    Either way at the end of the day you will be Judged and remembered by your convictions and principles and how you lived your life therein. Everything else is relative.