We are a Bad People

A few days ago I was talking to a gentleman about the local situation in Pakistan. With all the different factions/parties/independents trying to leverage any event to their own advantage. 

We talked about the economic situation, the political situation, the Talibans and Mullahs (please not I am not using the term Aalim), the under-the-table feudalism, the corruption. We ended up covering almost everything. It was depressing and entertaining, it almost feels like a Shakespearean tragedy/comedy.

We both agree that there is major truth to the phrase “you are judged by the company you keep”. As an individual that is true to a great extent, however, at times there are circumstances when this may not be true. I thought of another phrase at that time.

A people are judged by their rulers.

This is true, to a certain extent, as the rulers become the ambassadors of the nation, and represent the culture, thoughts, ideology of the people of that nation. Therefore, this being a self proclaimed democratic nation, implies that our rulers have been picked by the people. Therefore, the people have the same self defeatist attitude, mentality, and emotional instability that these leaders posses.

Hey, I’m not naming names here, but, let the guilty defend themselves. 😉

Coming back to my conversation with the gentleman, he recalled and quoted what another associate of his had commented on the state of the nation that is Pakistan.

… I was having a conversation with Mr. Smith, and he said shaking his head, “We are a bad people”…

Having said that, I do not think that we, Pakistanis are a bad lot at all. There is a large proportion of the nation who are actually good people in the real sense of the word. However, the political, social, economic, educational and other cultural forces in play have marginalized these people below the poverty line, where they are stuck in a situation from which they can’t seem to get out of. 

All you Pakistani people out there. We are not thieves, liars, drug and gun trafficers, nor are terrorists, extremists, or any other form of nut cases. We are sane people, we think rationally, we are aware of our surroundings, economy, politics. Even the illiterate amongst us is educated enough to understand the difference between right and wrong, good and bad, progress and self destruction. We can make the difference. We, the small minority, can make a difference.

There is one condition though. Sacrifices will need to be made. We will have to put the nation before our families and our families before us. We have to understand that we all are here to serve the nation for which train-loads of people lost their lives.

A person who through inaction allows bad things to happen, is worse than the person who does bad things.

Another interesting thing I learnt through conversations with someone who had met Qaid’e’Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah, was shocking to say the least. Related to our motto, the original motto is:

Unity, Discipline, Faith

It was changed to what it is now to satisfy the “Mullah” people’s argument that this is an Islamic nation, and faith have to come before discipline. I have one thing to say to these people. Take a break, relax. This is too small a thing to argue over. The thing we should focus on is that all three aspects are equally important.

  1. Cannot Unite a people who are undiciplined.
  2. Cannot Discipline a people who do not have some form of faith.
  3. Cannot have Faith without being diciplined and united.

Well that’s my rant for today, hope it was entertaining, and if I happened to offend someone, then I have proved my point.

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Democracy — What?

What is this thing called Democracy?

The Wikipedia page on Democracy starts off by saying “Democracy is a form of government in which power is held by people under a free electoral system.”

According to the one of the definition (meaning) of Democracy on the Merrium-Webster web site:

Democracy is a government in which the supreme power is vested in the people and exercised by them directly or indirectly through a system of representation usually involving periodically held free elections.

This definition identifies a form of power that is supreme, also identifies that this power is vested in the people. My first question is what kind of power is this? And, if this has been vested in the people then what does it allow the said people to do? Following the identification of power and where it is vested, there is an indication of the ability to “directly or indirectly” exercising it. Equally important is the reference to a “system of representation” and “periodically held free elections”.

All these fancy words are all pretty and all. but, does this not imply that these so called people should have some form of vision.

In my opinion, the ability to first of all have a vision, above and beyond the self, and on top of that, realizing their own capability of making their vision a reality. I think there are two things here that are directly relevant, 1) literacy, and 2) education. These two may at times are considered as the same thing, however, I have come to realize that these two, however related, have slightly different meaning, it may be just a matter of a shade of difference, but the difference is definitely there.

In short I think an illiterate person may be educated however, and a literate person may be uneducated.

If a person is educated, then they have the ability to effectively take part in this thing called — drum roll — Democracy.

In Pakistan, we all speak of literacy rates, and how they are improving. However, I know as a fact that these rates are cooked up. It defines a person to be literate if he or she can read or write their own name. That’s about all that is actually needed to sign legal document, or identify themselves. What more is needed in life? Really?

I hope the sarcasam was not too thick to read through.

Please someone explain something to me. I am totally up to here (slashing sign with my hand near my neck) with trying to figure this one out.

How does this so called brilliant thing called Democracy work in a culture where:

  1. A strong unspoken feudal system is still prevalent.
  2. The executive arm of the law are on the beck and call of their feudal masters.
  3. The law makers and definers are exceptional at protecting their feudal masters.
  4. The majority of the population is indebted to their feudal masters for “favors done onto their ancestors”.

Please explain, why in this democratic country, no one has actually worked towards education of the nation? The simple answer is that, education, leads to awareness, awareness leads to, well, the ability to be more than mere slaves. Education empowers the people to be aware of their rights, which is counter productive to the machinery that is the feudal system.

Thoughts on Social Networking Portals

How has the internet affected our social skills. Are we better at socializing now than before? Are we worse now? Does the ability to remain anonymous on the internet empower us to meet new people who we would never have met before? Does the online-electronic socializing experience hamper our one-to-one and one-to-many socializing abilities or skills? Does electronic socializing lead to one-on-one socializing? Is electronic socializing a means to and end, where the end is in-person socializing?

There are so many socializing platforms available on the internet. Starting from the most base all the way to the most professional. I have seen some platforms evolve over time. I remember there was a members site on msn at one time (it’s evolved to become spaces.live.com the old url was members.msn.com), there was the profiles side of yahoo also profiles.yahoo.com; Yahoo also developed 360.yahoo.com. These have evolved, become more powerful, and at the same time also restrictive. The power comes from allowing their members to do much more on and with these platforms, however, with power comes responsibility, the responsibility to protect the members on that platform. It may be a good thing, or a disadvantage, totally subjective to who the member is.

There are totally professional social portals also, geared and targeting the same set of people with a different product, promising that there will be only a certain type of crowd available through them. Actually, it’s the same crowd but with a different face. The site that I am really fond of in this category is www.linkedin.com.

There are a great many more such sites, I’ve just named a few, some more examples are facebook.com, tagged.com, and myspace.com.

Random Thoughts – Three Questions Times Five

There are so many questions that come to my mind. Perhaps this is a way to just put them out there. I can’t really say for sure, if there are answers to these, but these are questions that do come to my mind.

I’ll keep posting such questions in the future. Perhaps I’ll get answers, perhaps I wont. Only the future will tell.

  1. Where is the human race going to be in 50 years or another 100 years?
  2. Where are we headed?
  3. Are we going to self-destruct one day?
  4. Are we going to eventually do away with petty nature of our nature?
  5. What is the penultimate goal of the human race?
  6. Are we on a whole no better than an ant farm?
  7. Does humanity have a destiny?
  8. Are we traveling blind headlong into the future?
  9. Do we fall back on our own personal religions for reassurance?
  10. What is the actual truth of our discontent?
  11. Will nature kill us off – naturally evolved super bug?
  12. Will humans evolve into some more advanced species?
  13. How many truths are in our myths?
  14. How many myths are in our truths?
  15. Are the previous two questions related?

State of the State

In this day and age of lightening fast communication, thanks to the internet, one would imagine that anything is possible and people use the internet to their advantage. Evaporating time and distance barriers. Doing business at the speed-of-light sort of thing.

But… Nooo!! We don’t believe in progress. Progress is the other name of the devil. If you use the internet you will go to hell mentality. If you use your dang’d mind and think beyond your tiny inconsequential self and be someone, is a mortal sin, punnishable with a lifetime of praise and prosperity. Nooo… we can’t have progress, it’s a tool of Satan’s minions, the white man who speaks with a forked tongue.

I hope no one noticed the sarcasam there.

What is it with us as a nation. We are such small minded people. We have a problem with the word “we”. My people don’t belive in the word in it’s full sense. For my people, we is me, my wife, my kids, and perhaps if other relatives if they treat me as a superior human being, they would have the privlidge to deserve inclusion in the we.

I can’t small minded people, people who can’t make a 1 year plan with the ever ready excuse, it can’t be done, or who’s going to do it, or do you know how difficult that it, or some other self-limiting reasoning.

Sometimes I feel that “we” as a nation is afraid of achieving greatness, we actually enjoy the slave role, we thrive in it, in self pity, in the delusion that “our hands are tied”, blaming someone else for not getting up and doing something about it.

For the smallest problem, we look outwards to other nations for help. We don’t sit down, make a plan, tighten our belts and sacrifice for a greater tomorrow.

This is insane. I’d probably get a whole lotta hate filled comments, but look around you. Take a good look, when you’re walking down the street, when you’re looking out the window, when you’re in the market. When you’re reading this, YOU are a small minority or a small percentage of this nation which we claim to love so much.

I don’t care who you are, we are all responsible for the future of our nation. We are responsible for a better tomorrow. If there is an idiot elected or assigned to any public office, it is our collective fault. And we have no right to complain about the situation of the nation and it’s economy because it happened on your watch. So please. spare me the the rightiousness and examples of all the good that someone else is doing. I’m not interested in the achievements of some one person.

The Chund Patrol

Chund in my language means a slap. In other words, to use the Americanized reference “sounds-like-ditch slap”.

Now, why I feel like writing this down.

I was watching people on the road, and realized, that the majority of drivers, whether motorcycle, car or a heavy vehicle, do really really really stupid things. It annoys me how these people on the road think the road is solely their property, and they have the absolute right of way and everyone else has to give way to them.

The idea I got was for a “Chund Patrol”. This would be a specially trained policing group, with similar authority to that of the traffic police, however, instead of giving out traffic violation tickets, they would give out “chunds” (thats the plural of chund). Also, they would take photographs of violators and print them on a web portal for all to see the violation, the chunds being handed out and who the culprits are.

There will be at least a pair of specially uniformed officers, at each intersection and at set intervals on sections without frequent intersections. These officers of the Chund Patrol will have the final say on how many Chunds will be handed out based on general rules that will be set. The severity of the violation — read as stupidity — will dictate the punnishment for the culprit.

I think it is a great idea. Plus the pictures and perhaps video when possible will make sure the system remains impartial, fair and transparent. These officers will also be given bonuses based on chands given to people who consider themselves above the law, like government drivers, and big luxury 4×4 drivers, and expensive car drivers.

The downside of this plan is the nature of our nation. Soon you’ll have “ameer-baap-ki-bigrhi-aulad” (spoilt kids of rich fathers) competing on who gets the most chunds. Now that is a sad state of affairs. When people actualy compete on who’s more stupid.

Show me the Meaning

Today I checked my email and discovered a forwarded chain mail. The email was prompting me into action against distractions which would sideline my dedication to my religion. I did agree with points raised in the email, however, I wanted to share more of my thoughts on the subject of music and entertainment.Should we sing songs of other religions? Should we sing songs praising other peoples gods?

The email explained that some songs coming out of India are actually Hindu songs that celebrate Hindu gods. And we as Muslims should not sing songs that celebrate other peoples religions. We as Muslims have by nature of our religion other more important responsibilities.

My thoughts were…

What is your opinion on this? Is it limited to Hindu songs, there is a difference between Hindu and Indian songs, Hindu Songs are religious in nature. Just like Christan songs are religious in nature.

Question, I stop listening to Hindu songs, but as my Urdu is not that great, and my Hindi is totally non-existent, would it not be better if I just stopped listening to Indian songs all together? You know, just to be on the safe side. On the other hand, I have the songs sung in the West by a plethora of bands, whose songs should I listen to? Should I listen to Pakistani bands? Should I listen to orchestra, the classics like Beethoven, Vivaldi and that generation?

I personally do not prefer Indian songs, and a small percentage of Pakistani songs I find that I can say I like. However, that said, the thing about music is that, it’s almost hypnotic, it wants you to sing along. It’s got a good beat, it’s got a nice rhythm.

My opinion on music is that it should have a meaning, it should be talking about things larger and perhaps more important than the plethora of gods, “Ishq” and other such subjects. Songs originated from a need to preserve cultural and social history. They were used for remembrance and they were also a mode of instruction. The slaves used to sing songs to keep their hopes up, Revolutionaries spread their message through similes and metaphors to the young masses. Songs were also sung in honor of our dear departed, this included relatives as well as national heroes.

Where have these songs gone? I am interested in these songs?

What of Poetry? Now that is a classical mode of talking about real social issues and problems.

Where has the meaning gone? Are there no longer poets who have something important to say? Are there no longer people who believe that freedom is a responsibility and feel the need to spread the word? Or is it because there is no profit in such messages? Are the people really more interested in the razzle-dazzle of “acceptable erotica” — men and women grinding themselves against each other to mind numbing beats?

It is perhaps just easy to lose oneself in the shallow entertainment because the challenge otherwise is to stand up completely alone against the status quo.