Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Need to celebrate our diversity

We live in complex times, where mostly events occur in the shades of grey instead of the principled black or white. Therefore, when looking at the root cause of issues it is mandatory that we have the ability of multipronged analysis. Two factors that have played a major role in creating this mess are mismanagement & politicizing everything left, right & centre. I’ll leave my rants on the issue of mismanagement for another time & talk about how politicizing has subverted all that which once used to be a source of pride for the people of Pakistan.

A rich heritage is something that forms the roots of our country & its people as we are part of a region filled with a spectrum of diversity. However, with time this factor too had to face the wrath of politicization. Anyone who has shared some general discussion sessions with their parents would know that this has not been the scenario always. If we look at it we might be the ones having better facilities & opportunities at our disposal but I feel that they were the ones who were lucky enough to spend their youth amidst a much healthier environment; obviously here my reference is before the country was taken over by the dreadful regime of Zia, the consequences of which we suffer to date. They were more close to the culture & were not facing the dilemma where they were under a constant pressure to prove their religious or ethnic identity; & what I have concluded it didn’t matter much. Being human was the most important thing contrary to what we are excepted to primarily identify as. It’s not that these different identities didn’t exist at that time, they sure did but they didn’t act as a source of hatred. Sadly, this is exactly what this diversity is being used for now a days.

How many of us can claim that we know what our country is comprised of? Majority of us can easily be labeled as tourist once we are out of the few areas (easily counted on the fingertips) that we are accustomed to. While involved in a team, preparing for a peace conference, comprising of individuals from all across Pakistan one of us made a very telling observation using her experience as an example. She said after meeting people from up north her mental notes of the people of that area changed drastically.

Are people in general outside Sindh familiar of the Sheedis, people of African descent? My guess is hardly any. And what about the Kalash Valley. Yes we do know that it is part of Pakistan but I don’t think many of us have ever thought of exploring it ourselves. These were just a couple of examples from a long list. If anyone is interested in getting into the details reading about a bit more I did recommend Empires of the Indus by Alice Albinia.

The idea that diversity is harmful to Islam & as some argue is not acceptable by Islam is absurd in my view point. How can a religion giving preference to humanity be anti-diversity; makes no sense to me atleast. How & who is interpreting & for what purpose is what should be considered before letting your judgment seep in. Unfortunately, nobody asked these baseline questions before letting the powers to be trample our diversity under their ambitious.
Whose fault is it? Well as I said earlier everything is grey here & hoping that the governments will intervene is a lost case. Let’s not accept any such improvement at least in the near future. Also as the saying goes the most dangerous words are “I am from the government & I am here to help.” Agreed that most of this diversity has been scarified, so that our politicians can achieve their petite goals but let’s give a look at the other side of the coin. Who allows them to exploit such issues? The bitter reality is that at this juncture the finger points at us. What if we the people refuse to succumb to their propaganda of hatred & instead decide to celebrate our rich heritage; something that is not an abnormal idea. All of us have friends who are from a different ethnicity & even different religious background. These relationships are perfectly compatible, so if there can be harmony at the individual level why not at the collective level, after all society is made up of individuals & there attributes are what gets transpired at the bigger picture.

Looking at the history we will come to know that change happens from bottom up & not vice versa. So as the quote is “Be that agent of change that you want to see around you”. Let’s take the initiative ourselves & not let the powers to be exploit our diversity & use it against us.

Let’s celebrate our diversity.

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