Mirror, Mirror on the Wall

Published on CHOWK, by Nadeem Akram, November 3, 2010.

… We the educated people of this country hold opinion on everything and anything but since oral and anal syndrome ails us therefore we go about our business without giving a second thought to the vehemently argued ‘issues’ of the day. For instance, just this morning we were all complaining about the rising prices of edibles including meat. Most of us agreed that the shortage of livestock has aggravated in wake of the recent floods. A highly informed colleague privy of the fact that, sub-standard meat imported from India is being sold in Karachi, shared it with great pride. However, all hell broke loose when someone suggested that we as a nation should not sacrifice animals on this Eid, instead the money could be donated to some credible organization involved in rehabilitation of the flood victims. His suggestion was based on the logic that a) to help prevent the supply and demand imbalance and b) to speed up the rehabilitation process as winter is knocking at our doors while the government is still squabbling over distribution of the aid money. A logical suggestion indeed!  

I was utterly surprised the kind of response this suggestion drew from the crowd. Religion was the trump card and everyone used it with perfection, followed by the subtle suggestions about the lifestyle of the proposer. Being part of the privileged class with immense knowledge, access to information and more importantly equipped with the latest problem solving techniques that we apply to solve the complexities of our businesses, they simply failed to see the logic in the suggestion.

All of them knew that it is not binding on us to sacrifice animals on Eid-ul-Adha every year, and in our hearts of hearts we all knew what happens to the ‘meat’ after the sacrificial ceremony is over and yet no one was willing to make a change simply because abandoning this tradition is politically incorrect. After all it is only once a year that we allow ourselves to be treated with a raan roast! And what would the daughter’s in-laws think if two legs of lamb are not delivered with great fanfare. Can you imagine an Eid without the evening bonfire and barbeque? What an absurd idea to give up all of that just to put a roof on someone’s head. After all Eid comes once a year and there is plenty of time to donate during the rest of the year, was the concluding remark before we broke up to resume our offices leaving the poor fellow gasping for air, wondering what does the skeleton in his cupboard had to do with his suggestion.

This episode is just a tip of the ice berg. Bigotry, self-indulgence, a heightened sense of self-preservation, and tradition based religiosity has rendered our educated class intellectually bankrupt. We tend to take the moral high ground on each and every issue under the sun, but when it comes to doing something about it hide behind all sorts of excuses. Ask around and you will hardly find a single person who has casted a vote in any of the elections. Agreed that the balloting process is not ideal to say the least, as a matter of fact it is pathetic. The queues are long and yes there are all sorts of people in those queues. At times it is cold and at times it is hot, but the same queues, long waits, extreme weathers, ungodly timing, and yes all sorts of people around us do not deter us from obtaining a visa for greener pastures … (full text).

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