We Have Lost Our Marbles
By Mehboob Qadir
We lost our social cohesion and civil anchorage, in fact our place in history, when River Hakra, the legendary Saraswati, turned away from us thousands of years ago. It was the mother river on whose banks Indus Civilization was born and prospered to become one of the largest and the most enlightened civilizations in the world. It held sway in many different ways over the plains of united Punjab, North-Western Rajasthan and Sindh on to ,as far away as, South Africa, Mozambique and Zanzibar ,Arabian Peninsula and Mesopotamia in the Middle East, Central Asia to the west and China to the north. What a magnificent sweep it was and how splendid a prestige it bestowed upon us as the basin and custodians of such a great civilization.
As the Saraswati River changed course, the entire socio-political ecology that supported this great canvas began to erode and finally collapsed. With that crashed our sails and our honorable place among fellow nations and peer races. Our trade shrank so did our prosperity. Our interaction with other peoples became mechanical which means essentially base, unimaginative and inartistic. The arts and crafts that we like to boast about today are not very different from the ones we knew at the peak of our civilization’s evolution quite a few thousand years ago. As the fountain of Indus civilization choked so froze our artistic faculties and intellectual ability to improve and refine. Our potter still fashions the same pitcher on his potter’s wheel the way he did before the invasion of Alexander the Great. Our peasant still looks up to the skies for the timely rain before he puts his oxen pulled plough to the till , whose design hasn’t changed since times immemorial. His ox cart has improved marginally. During Harapan times its wheels were fixed to the axel and the axel turned , today the axel is fixed to the cart but the wheels turn. Even now in the interior Sindh Harapan age ox cart can be made out from agonizing squeaks of its axel from a long distance. The ajrak that the high priest of Moenjodaro wore was of the same print which is sold in the bazaars of Bhit Shah.
Somewhere enroute to our present pestilence we were told by the pulpit and its fellow copy writers that religion is statecraft, history and civilization. There could be nothing more eminently ineligible to withstand a clinical examination than this. Yet pundit, mullah, bhikshu and the pastor all conspired to feed this patent falsehood into their followers as it guaranteed their grip over the obedient masses and ensured a supra political but unchallengeable power and privilege. Thus we have immensely dense boundaries drawn between Islam, Hinduism, Budhism, Christianity and what have you. Emperor Akbar the Great was not really inventing a new religion in Mughal India but trying to lower these walls if not demolish their fortifications.
So where are we now? A spiteful, a inward growing and sharps infested people with whom whoever comes in touch is bruised and repelled. We have forgotten the art of dignified and responsible relations with nations Why is that we have the maximum varieties and numbers of religious militants, sectarian extermination bands and terror mongers in our midst and they have an ever mutant following too? Why has our soil become so fertile for anti-humanity ideologies , archaic but blood thirsty dogmas and hideous preachers of hate and destruction? Is there nothing constructive, humane and peaceable that we as a nation can do? Sattar Edhis and Dr Abdus Salams are becoming exceptions among a mass of medieval minded men.What has gone wrong with the inheritors of the Indus civilization, those who have imbibed the core messages of great religions like Islam, Hinduism and Christianity? We should have been the epitome of civilized behavior, highly educated, sophisticated in thought and miles high in intellectual ability and knowledge. We should have had umpteen number of Aristotles, Einsteins, Avisinas, Alberunis ,Confucious ,Gautams , Aryabhattas and Krishnas on every turn of the street sharing their wisdom, vision and goodness for the people and humanity. Instead we have a bumper crop of vandals, kidnappers, dishonest men and ruthless killers lurking around in our neighborhoods .There is a dreadful abundance of those who have no integrity, no principles and no pangs of conscience at their own wrongdoings or that of others. These are the same rogues who ransacked our society and treasury that we look forward to take our country on the path to respectability, progress and prosperity? How do you expect wolves to mind your sheep, or a thief to watch over your jewels? We must be out of our mind or we too are of the same kind. I reluctantly think we are both.
Let’s take a good look at ourselves. We have yet to learn how to behave humanely, be courteous habitually, mind our own business where faith and religion are concerned and shun self righteousness and self endowment over other religions and peoples. Let the notion of the chosen believers rest where it belongs that is history and put ourselves to diligence, honesty, empathy and humility. We must pause to review our entire socio-political and religious package, identify and crystallize core national interests in their order of precedence and political maintainability. Discard illusive and nostalgic wishfullness like umma, fortress of Islam, leader of Muslims and glorious future battles with infidels etc. Thereafter with great care and wisdom rewrite a tightly packed and clear national vision afresh. In that give pride of the place to service to humanity, reliability, hard work, truthfulness, thirst for education and uncompromisingly pure quality of thought and product. Develop fierce pride in our origins, culture, dress, language and literature. I for one would not exchange Bullhe Shah and Ghalib for the whole world. Let’s move faith to strictly personal domain, separate religion from the business of the state and treat every human being on his merit and not the creed or color of his skin. Lets not prejudge men and women before they perform nor label them without listening to what they have to say. Take out the delusive notion of spiritual, racial or moral superiority over fellow beings, this is a deadly toxin . Quickly climb down from the false pedestal of uniqueness to lend a helping hand to whoever is needy and wherever he or she may be. Why should we be forever wallowing in the world’s leprosy quarters? Where has our self-esteem gone? Why have our state responses towards international relations run out of decent options. We either borrow or brag. This state of the nation is unbecoming and a discourse like that is utterly undesirable. We must add value to our worth and grace to our stature.
Be thankful for what the nature gave you and try to return the favor to others or the following generations. Having done so hope to be respected and well regarded. The one who fixes a hand pump for thirsty travelers under a bushy tree on a dusty track in the rural outback is a far better human being than the one who stands on the gilded podium and pulverizes captive audience with his flowery speech and theatrics. Goethe’s invaluable wisdom is applicable universally, ‘If you treat a man what he is he will remain what he is. But if you treat a man what you expect him to be he will become what you expect him to be’. Shun pretensions and decide what you want to be and you would be regarded accordingly.