Stop this Insanity

Published on Monday, August 22, 2016

By: Kazi Muinur Rahman

Insanity is when you keep doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different outcomes. And the current state of affairs in Dhaka and Bangladesh, seem to make me think that we are going insane. No one seem to have learned. Killing people because their opinions differ from their own, has never really worked. Consider our liberation war.

In 1971, the Pakistanis decided to slaughter us because we did not agree with the way that our country should be administered. Then we had a numerous coups and unitary governmental rules. Each time the people in power tried to impose their opinions on the people of the government, and they ruthlessly crushed dissent. IT DID NOT WORK!

History has proven time and time again that coercion, threats and bullying does not work in the end, because at some point people reach a point where they fight back. When they fight back, things can go down hill so quickly that people can be caught off-guard. The longer people try to cling to power, the more obsessed they become with it. The more obsessed they become the harder it becomes for them to accept the changes that take place.

The harder it becomes for them to accept the changes, they become more blinkered with their own self-interest. And when that happens, we are looking down the barrel of a shot-gun. Shot-gun peace, like shot-gun marriages, do not last long. It is not a solution, but merely a patch-up — a very poor one at that. When people are cornered into situation like these, they grudgingly accept the decision of the people who hold the shot-gun. But they do not forget. Sooner or later the hand that holds the gun gets tired — when that happens the people who have been at the end of the shot-gun fight back.

Nothing has lasted forever — not the Islamic Caliphate, not the British Empire, not the Spanish Empire and not Rome. This means that control, in the grand scheme of things is only temporary. Given that it is temporary, holding it should be a privilege. When people hold it as a privilege, and willingly share it with people, even with people whose opinions they disagree with, it gives people the hope that they can have their say at some point.

However, shutting them down and closing the path to success for vested interests means that every time there is a change in the administration, there is a massive cull in the arms of the executive and the judiciary who have acted to promote the interests of the people in power.

Insanity seems to run in the blood of our people. We have forgotten that the reason that we became part of Pakistan was because we were considered to be a land for the Muslims. Even though we became a nation of muslim brother, our ethic and social differences were too difficult for the thick-headed rulers of Pakistan to handle. They were willing to support democracy, if it suited them. But the whole idea of democracy is that you have to accept the will of the people EVEN WHEN we disagree with the decision of the people.

However, accepting a decision does not mean that we lose our right to decent. Decent is a fundamental aspect of the human condition. Humans like to disagree with each other, because that allows us to engage with other people. The contradiction of the human condition is that even though we like to disagree with people, we do not WANT people to disagree with us.

Panic and fear have never solved the challenges that we have faced in our life. Security is important but people will only feel safe when they know that they cannot get away with impunity for their acts of violence against other people.

When the powerful prey on the meek, it is the obligation of the Executive arm of the Government to protect them. Although it may not be feasible for the authorities to provide security to each and every individual, the people of the county should not feel afraid to bring an issue to the attention of the authorities when they face a problem.

The Police and the Courts have a bad reputation in our country. They do have an impossible job. They are under resourced and over-worked, yet the people constantly expect them to do things for them. From my personal experience, I can say that the general public will turn against the Police the moment they think their self-interest is at stake. No matter what happens, the office of the institution of the State should and must be respected.
But that means that they have to respect the general public as well. I remember one evening I was purchasing cigarettes around 1 a.m. I had the misfortune to have interacted with a Police officer because at that moment he was very excitable. It took an inordinate amount of patience to ensure that I did not upset the Officer, even though I did not do anything wrong.

How do we change the current state of affairs? First, we need to promote the fact that people are entitled to their opinions — even if we do not agree with them. We may be a Muslim majority country, but there are minorities in our State. These people have the same rights as the majority. Every time an individual from the minorities get assaulted or victimized, it is a mark of shame on our national conscience.

The people of Bangladesh fought back to protect the rights of the oppressed minority — the non-Pakistanis. That is the thing that we should never forget.

Second, we need to try to remedy the deficit of trust in the Institutions of Bangladesh. In order to achieve this, we need to obtain resources that will equip the people who hold these offices to carry out their duties more effectively. When authority is linked to an office, the office should be sacrosanct. People should not be able to overrule things because it is merely inconvenient. The opinions of all people should be heard, but at the same time once a decision has been reached people have to fulfill their duties — even though they may disagree with the decision.

Finally, we need to allow the people to express their will. Even if we do not like the decision.When people feel that their expressions are represented in the Parliament, they are less willing to accept fundamentalists opinions. When regular elections are held, people tend to realize that when people use threat of violence or brutality to gain power — there is NO GUARANTEE that these people STOP using their violent means when they get to power.

When people are not inclined to talk to people to convince them of their opinions, it generally bodes ill because it means that these people really do not have a clue of what they are doing. So, please allow these people to talk and to engage. But at the same time — demonstrate that threat of violence or violence should not be the primary factor for people to attain power. When we can establish that people will feel safe and support the administration.

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