By Fareeha Qayoom
s Shahzad Roy said in his famous song “Laga Rah,” “Sharif Aadmi wo hai jis ko moka nahi mila,” (Translation: a morally upright man is actually a man who didn’t get an opportunity!) – I agree. We are all a bunch of hypocrites. It’s rampant. It’s a disease. We all suffer from it. “Do as I say, not as I do.” We all forget actions speak louder than words. We are not fooling anybody except ourselves with our day-to-day self-centered and selfish behavior. (Yesterday, Afridi was caught red handed tampering with the cricket ball. His explanation? Everybody does it!) He is just a symptom of the general malaise afflicting Pakistan (and the world).
We might pay lip-service to honesty, values and ethics. But morality is an abstract concept to majority of us and it only applies to other people. When it comes to us, everyone should behave justly, honestly and morally with us but we can behave as we please.
Let me give you an example – a friend of mine is getting pushed around by her mean boss. She is good at her work and she delivers. She, poor girl, wants fair treatment at work. She’s not getting it. It’s not her work. She is not playing the game of politics well. You have to be diplomatic and play the submissive, little girl and do what you are told to get ahead. You have to let the boss shine and you have to let him take credit for all your good work and let him pass all his mistakes on to you as yours. If you don’t, your days are numbered. Besides, losing the politics of the game, there are too many strikes against her – a. she is a woman. b. she is a confident woman which she projects by her demeanor and clothes and c. she is vocal. In fact, she is fending off backstabbing co-workers all the time. She told me, “It’s not fair!” I agree. The funny thing is, if the same thing happens to her boss, he will not be thinking, “just desserts, I deserved this.” He will be thinking and saying, “It’s not fair.”
We were driving around Liberty Square, Main Gulberg while we were talking. Then, I had to take a u-turn. The correct way is to go through the traffic circle. She told me to take a u-turn regardless of the correct way. I just looked at her. She was talking about fair-play on one hand and she was urging me to break the traffic rules because everyone does it on the other. There was a traffic policeman there too. We got away with it because everyone does it apparently, she assured me and we won’t be getting a (traffic violation) ticket and the policemen also turn a blind eye because they are used to this strange behavior. It’s like an unwritten rule. I didn’t like it but I did it her way under protest. I told her, “at least I know what I am doing is wrong.” She just laughed. Yes, she was right; we didn’t get a traffic ticket.
That started me thinking…prior to this incident, I had been talking to Faheem on Facebook. Here’s an uncensored (and unedited) version of that conversation. The context is IPL, India vs. Pakistan’s official behavior and a TV program. However, the reason I am sharing this conversation here is because it finally struck me that to majority of us, morality, ethics and values don’t seem real. They are indeed just abstract concepts. Without values, ethics and high morals, the society degenerates into anarchy. The only rule of survival is that of fittest…the fittest might not be the best of humanity, they are the survivors and for them the end justifies the means. They will do anything no matter what to survive. There are no scruples. Such people don’t understand morality. Its about winning by fair means or foul. When such people reach the top, obviously, more power means more corruption. No wonder, they say absolute power corrupts absolutely.
“Well Fareeha. It has become the nature of our nation to blame the rivals. When we know that they are our rivals and being a rival they have every right to plot against us. If they have remained successful, consider that you lost the battle in Cricket Diplomacy. Why to weep over it, why show anger? Why can’t we believe in self criticism? So, that we could know our weaknesses and by knowing them, we could remove that.
But unfortunately Fareeha, we come on air, criticize the enemy and feel that we have fulfilled our duty. This is pathetic. We need to be true to ourselves and our generation and our media too should become a bit pragmatic now. What do you think?”
“Hmmm I think we should stop being Ostriches…India can never be Pakistan’s friend. This is the realistic view of the situation and all bilateral negotiations should proceed from that reality. Can there be Peace with India? Maybe; however, we need to stop playing on back foot; stop being so defensive. Indians do a good diplomatic backstabbing all the time, we should learn from the pro and do a bit of our own. Playing fair with an opponent who thinks its okay to behave like a thug and bully because she is bigger, richer and more popular will not win us any brownie points. Besides, the audience is already on her side so there is no point trying to engage her on equal footing. The world already wants us to admit India is bigger, better and therefore, the natural leader and spokesperson for this region….they are all biased. They are not interested in fairness. Only mantra “Might is Right” – law of the jungle. Survival of the fittest…Long live Darwin! :)”
“Fareeha, try to understand me. It’s not being fair. It’s about being weak and considering that we are. An enemy has all the right to back stab. Plus we are not an equal footing as far India is concerned. Whatever the world wants, the fact is that they are bigger, rivals and bias too.
We have to seek our weakness and have to work out, who stops us from back-stabbing them? Come on let’s play on front foot. Might is right is the Mantra of the whole world. Who stops us from getting mighty? If we are bigger, more intelligent, more honest and still being backstabbed, it means that we are badly mistaken. Something is terribly wrong in us. Plus how can we talk about fairness? Pakistan in 62 years has never been fair with itself. Why should we make this so called “fairness’ a lame excuse of our weak diplomacy, our lesser commitment with the nation, our lesser conviction, lesser professionalism?
We have to be pragmatic now. We already have wasted 62 years and so many generations. We the corrupt of the corrupt must not take “fairness’ as a ride. I can easily challenge, that their not even a single institution in Pakistan who is fair. Just tell me one. So, let’s revise ourselves. Let’s come out to of the fake dream, that we are fair and let’s take the bull by the horns.”
“Hmmm. so you also subscribe to the viewpoint – might is right. Turn the other cheek. Let them slap you on the other one too. That’s one solution.
In that case, you are not talking about survival – you are talking about death. Let’s get eaten. Why are we even trying to defend ourselves? Let’s merge with India! Let the weak die. Unfortunately, I personally believe in ethics. Just because you are bigger doesn’t give you the right to pick on someone smaller…your solution means we all become Indians, assimilate in the dominant society and become Hindus to be someone …like your Sikh forefathers did – they converted to Christianity to get land and grants from the British Raj. You told me that yourself! :)”
“Yes, I told you. Learn from this experience. Your personal ethics stand nowhere. Let’s talk as a nation. We are living in a world of terrorism. Read my comments again. It’s about how to fight a stronger enemy. We have to be mighty or following your code of ethics, we certainly will assimilate in the Hindu Dominant Society as we did in case of Terrorist Afghanis.
I don’t understand how do you get an idea of merging with India??? It all about knowing our weaknesses to fight a strong enemy. We didn’t consider Afghanistan strong, we made a mistake. We didn’t consider Afghanistan an enemy and here lies the blood of thousands of Pakistanis. The only point is to know what you really are. This is the only way; we can calibrate our strength and combat a strong, spreading enemy.
I hope it’s clear now.”
“Well, you talk the good talk but it’s hardly doable. How do you become stronger as a nation? You need action. In the right direction. For action, you need leaders, for leaders, you need education in all spheres of life. Unfortunately, you need ethics and strong moral fiber. There can be no social justice without it; if there is no social justice, then might is right; its anarchy, which is happening right now. This is the way it is. Capitalists think money is god. Secularists think majority is god. Pakistanis are just confused and direction-less. Since our educated are clueless too…all we can do is talk. While corrupt leaders loot the country and sell us out to anyone interested in buying a piece of us. 🙂
By the way, where did I get the idea that we should merge with India you ask – this was natural progression from your idea that we should understand India is bigger, stronger and richer and we should stop beating ourselves against the wall. Stop wasting our time. Obviously, when you don’t have minimum deterrence in place, India will invade you and take you over…They are not interested in you. They are interested in your land and resources. In other words, it’s all about money! 😉
Ps I am done with all this serious talk…I am going to listen to some music…”
“Na na. By that I meant is quite clear that we should organize ourselves and should take the enemy seriously. Plus let me tell you that not all 160 million people are just talking. There is a majority which is working too. May be I’m talking on their behalf too, having my own point of view. Anarchy is already there since the beginning of our country and from the same time, People’s Democratic parties are already fighting against them, with clear vision and data. Here I must correct one term that Seculars only say that State should have no religion, while the Democrats consider the majority a god. One more thing that needs to be cleared is that there are two sectors of education.
2. Street wisdom
Fareeha, to gain street wisdom, you only have to realize the sufferings of the people and have to be one of them and you can be on the path of street wisdom. Academia is an added factor to growth and change now coming to the bottom line; we don’t have to invade India to make a visible victory. We only have to be economically stronger than them and not just a few elites, but the nation as a whole. I’ll refer to the Era of Caliph Haroon ur Rasheed, when Baghdad was the wealthiest most and the most well governed Caliphet. What did they do? They just did a few things.
1. Made them economically strong, instead of invading.
2. Made house of wisdom.
3. Provided justice to their people.
And you can see that no such governance came into existence after that in whole of the world.
I hope I’m clear now.”
“Appreciate your viewpoint. Like I said, you talk the good talk. 🙂 By the way, secularists and democrats behave the same way technically – they make the laws based on what the majority thinks and votes for and religion or ethics or morals is not a factor in their decisions. That’s all I meant. So yes, as you said, I stand corrected, for secularists and democrats – majority is god. 🙂
Two, as you said, my personal belief doesn’t matter in the discussion – since you subscribe to “might is right” anyway, since the majority of the world agrees with you too, hence, anarchy and wars – I don’t know why you are arguing for social justice and ethics – that is a minority view and doesn’t matter in the larger scheme of things. Anarchy is the order of the day and it’s all good since majority thinks it’s good.
Three, I never said we should invade India, I said, we need to keep minimum deterrence in place so India doesn’t invade us. No one will raise an eyebrow if they decide to do so…since might is right. They are bigger, richer and better!
Four, you have to face it; the educated Pakistanis are all talk, no action. We wouldn’t be having so many problems if they were capable of doing something instead of just talking about it. Implementation is the problem – not the five year plans!”
There ended our discussion with no winners on either side. I actually agree with Faheem on many counts. However, for me, there is no difference between individual or collective behavior; its groups of individuals who make up the collective anyway. However, my only real point of difference with him is, I believe in doing the right thing regardless. This might be a politically incorrect view and not a very street-smart behavior. I might be a minority of one. However, I don’t believe in hypocrisy. If ‘might is right’ then why do we crib and complain when the boot is on the other foot? (When the mighty take advantage of us?) As they say, if you are going to live with the sword, you will die with the sword too. Some call it Karma.
As citizens of Pakistan, we behave as if ‘might is right” when it’s a question of someone weaker than us, its apparently okay to take advantage of them, however, when we are the weak party, and someone stronger than us takes advantage of us, we want justice! There is no consistency of behavior. We behave badly because everybody behaves badly and its the norm. But when its our turn to take it, no matter how many times we have dished it out, we cry “its not fair!” That’s no excuse.
You can’t have your cake and eat it too. Either you believe in one thing or the other…you can’t have it both ways. Most Pakistanis believe in having it both ways. They can exploit the weak (as individuals) if given an opportunity, however, when its their turn to get squeezed; they want to be treated fairly.
We need to draw a line somewhere. What do we believe in as individuals and as a collective society? Are we for morality or not?
Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. There can be no double standards; one standard for you and other standard for others. You have to judge the merits of both sides of any question with the same yard stick.
Either you believe there is a God and he is watching you at all times and there will be accountability or you don’t believe in God and the last day, whatever you do is acceptable as long as the majority thinks it’s acceptable. Even cannibalism can become acceptable in certain circumstances if the majority thinks its expedient and it fits the circumstances of the given moment in time. Remember Lord of the Flies? It might be fiction but the lessons apply to real life.
Only the fit can survive in such narrow framework. The weak get eaten. Why defend the weak? After all, they deserve to get eaten. Its a dog-eat-dog world.
Who needs morality? It’s the defense of the weak
Photo by cwgreeny as Faheem said.
Unfortunately, only God help you if you happen to be in minority on any question and in the right morally because the majority will be too busy beating you into the ground. Its sad. Its unfortunate. Its true. Our newspapers are full of such horror stories.
I believe it was Mark Twain who said: “ Some men worship rank, some worship heroes, some worship power, some worship God, and over these ideals they dispute—but they all worship money.”