Crossing the crossroads

crossroad

There have been instances before when we as a nation stood at crossroads, and had to choose a path for us and our country. That time is upon us once again, only this time the circumstances are different. Today, unlike in the past we are aware of the gravity of this situation, and we are more than capable of handling it. However whether we are ready to get our wheels rolling in the right direction or not, remains a question unanswered.

So what is it that stops Pakistan from progressing in the right direction? I am sure when we take a good long look at ourselves; we’ll immediately arrive at the answer. Sadly, it is our negative mindset. The torch of education enlightened the dark caves of our minds, but it could not make them less gloomy. Why do we have everything and yet nothing? It is because we cannot appreciate the value of what we have.

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A pessimistic frame of mind prevails, we can find fault with everything around us and criticize anything at length. In fact, education, instead of teaching us optimism, has made us better critics. A very popular thought is that of frustration, when one cries out, ‘What has this country done for me?’ I could answer that question with the clichéd reply ‘What have you done for it? But instead I pose ‘Why haven’t you tried to change that? The one thing education did for you was to make you aware of how things should be.

Why did you keep on grumbling about why they couldn’t be and instead, try to make them be? It is very easy to find fault with everything in our country and it’s not so hard to identify the solutions too, but to make an effort to implement it you need all the willpower in the world. Of course it will be very difficult to have that willpower if you keep on concentrating on the problems. What we need to do is to see the world through an eye of optimism. We need to temporarily blind ourselves from the imperfections of our country and appreciate the positives, no matter how minute or obscure they might be. Then, we need to stand up and accept the responsibility of smoothing out the imperfections that do exist.

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An important step towards accomplishing this goal is to develop a feeling of possession. Pakistan today maybe in disarray, our image worldwide may be tarnished, but we still have to own what is ours and then take care of its problems. It is people quite similar to us, whose mistakes have led us to this, so why can’t we act to counteract their actions and pull Pakistan out of this turmoil. When it comes to our image, indeed a drop of dye gives the whole solution a colour, but can’t we through collective effort, dilute the solution to an extent that the effect of that dye is not significant anymore.

I was introduced to the concept of ‘A tale of two cities’ by an intellectual, which changed the way I saw life. Our life is a tale of two cities. We have the actual city which spreads all around us, with all of its faults which frustrate us every day. Then we have the image of the ideal city, of how we want the actual city to be, in our hearts. All our lives, instead of grumbling about the faults of the actual city, we must struggle to lessen the contrast between the two cities, because without that life has no purpose.

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We must always remember that we have complete control over what becomes of us. We can start owning what is ours and work to reverse the damage we, or people like us have caused, or we can choose to be impervious to it all and still see the wheels turn, but they might not turn in the direction we want them to and our history would be stained with yet another crossroad where we took the wrong turn. I have often heard from others that it is never too late, and I believe that it is not yet too late for us to grab the opportunity of defining our destiny. We are very fortunate that this opportunity comes knocking on our door again and again, but this time instead of tempting it’s patience any further we must be present at the doorstep to greet it with open arms.

 Umair Tariq-

                         Umair Tariq-

 

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Morality

Morality can be generalized, for the sake of convenience, as a sense of what is right and what is wrong. There are three notable sources of morals: religion, traditional or cultural values and commonly held beliefs (or a way of life) and at least two of these are under the influence of man.

Since the creation of man, the issue of what a man is to do and what a man is not to do have been an outstanding one. Over the course of time, religion and conscience have been able to provide some if not all answers and grounds as to what a man can and cannot do. The first problem that exists in answering these questions is that although words such as “chivalry” and “justice” are very often tossed around, their true meaning in the sense of total acceptance is not understood or hasn’t yet been established for that particular matter.

Can justice be absolute? The answer quite simply for me at least would be no. I think justice for one person will always mean pain or suffering for another, for instance a man being executed for a heinous crime would be justice for the victim, but would it really be justice for the family of the criminal? There can be a logical extension made in this regard, assuming the family is dependent upon that particular person economically, which is true for many cases. What happens next? And how fairly justice has been done?

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This is just one aspect, another would be that since the question of right and wrong and morality itself is one that’s very subjective in nature, how can there be a universal form of justice when the entire universe does not conform to one set of moral values? Proof for this particular claim would be diversity of opinion across the world with regard to issues as that of legalization of prostitution or abortion or even euthanasia for that matter. Another way to go about it would be that if we abandon some values of the past in an attempt to become civilized, by definition the entire concept of feminine empowerment and women being given equality. Doing just that implicitly means that we as a race are admitting to the fact that in some point in time because of our social mindsets and moral values, a significant amount of women were not given justice, or were even burnt at the sake.

The human race is mainly an immoral one and I base this claim on not just our current status but our past, the blood we’ve shed, the lives we’ve taken and how human nature dominantly tilts towards greed but also on the fact that we have led to the destruction of almost everything that we come on contact with. I speak of species that once used to exist, the dodo bird for instance and of the earth itself. Thus, we cannot leave it upon man to follow his conscience and endorse the values of a society which is why we have laws.

The purpose of laws as sensibly stated in the social contract is to ensure that the rights of one individual end where those of another begin which seems reasonable enough but where do these laws come from? The answer would be that they are a combination of both common sense and moral values. The problem lies in the fact that these values are neither perfect nor always right and have on more than one occasion proved to be bigoted against one class/sect/race/gender of society; the slave trade aimed at marginalizing the poor, women not being allowed to vote, black trade and what not!

Similarly, one might say that now such laws cease to exist in the status quo and therefore, the need to ponder over them fades away. But we have already established that what seemed ‘civil’ a couple of hundred years down memory lane is not anymore. Likewise, if we talk about appropriate issues today, prostitution for instance, laws do exist which aim at sidelining prostitutes although a hundred years from now society might deem it ‘civilized’ to be a prostitute.

On this note, a need comes into existence that these problems be addressed. The question is as to how one can address on such types of issues. One way of going about it could be a complete separation of moral values from the state and its governance, similar to the idea of secularity except that it deals with moral values and social mindsets. Therefore, one must not ignore the fact that until humanity has perfected its ideas as to what justice truly requires and how it needs to be absolute and not a commodity that can be expanded on the convenience of man. Instead morality and legislation should indeed be treated separately. The main problem is that of the world where morality and legislation are exclusive of each other, with another world where legislation is based upon a consensus between a particular group of individuals who have the authority to create laws and enforce them. These individuals will not necessarily ensure that the rights of everyone are protected and the likelihood of them serving their own interests is greater, which is why man will always be in a conflict over morality and the legislation.

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Umair Tariq-