A few years back I saw a sketch showing two frames; The first one was of a mother pulling and forcing a child, who was carrying a football, to enter the home and the second one; a mother pushing the child, carrying a mobile, out of the home. The picture carried a huge concept behind it that triggered my thought process. I have tried to explain and share this concept in this text.
Internet was introduced in Pakistan in 1993. People in academic circles, who I was a part of, had a fair idea about the revolution it will bring to the world including Pakistan. We all know how strangely the complete life dynamics of almost all strata of society have changed since then. Also, airing of 100s of satellite TV channels and the spread of mobile technology at almost negligible cost, has further aggravated the situation. Primarily, because of these inventions from the last decade and a half or so, the “world has become a global village” in its true sense.
The nations who were pro-actively ready and conscious of the effects of these inventions have benefitted tremendously and have progressed technologically and thus, economically. On the other hand, those who were not in pace with these developments, have been adversely affected. Unfortunately, partially, Pakistan is also one of them.
This technological invasion has taken these nations by surprise. No precautionary measures or advanced notices could possibly be taken to educate the society, the parents, and all stakeholders towards understanding the hazards of this giant invention. History shows that it is the negative aspects of any invention, technology, or creation that are adopted by the masses first, before they reap its benefits. Same has the case been with the internet. Regretfully mentioning that even of today, there are no formal or informal educative steps taken in this direction so as to develop thorough understanding, both rights and wrongs, of internet etc., and guard against its adverse effects on our religious, moral, spiritual and social values.
Parents and elders who are not requisitely qualified with the new, technically charged, strange social environment are in a delirium. They are confused, standing at a distance watching their young kids spending hours and hours of their time on computers, laptops and mobile phones. The insecurities from the society which the parents used to worry about have now reached inside the homes; the concept of which was partially hidden in the sketch mentioned in the opening sentence of the article. The globalization of the world as one unit, which initially was on national levels have now reached individuals. Each individual, if he wishes so, can be globally connected to any other individual of the world without the interference of anyone else. Thus there is a strange and dangerous mix of cultures of societies whose traditions and values may be poles apart.
Whereas our regional/ physical boundaries are guarded by our proud soldiers of Armed Forces, our ideological boundaries are to be guarded by each one of us, each mature Pakistani. These ideological boundaries include our family values and rituals, the moral and social fabric of our society, our culture, our traditions, and more importantly our ethical and religious principles and foundations. We must remember that these ideological boundaries were formed over hundreds of years of efforts of our ancestors and reside inside each one of us and we must remain sensitive to upholding and vulnerability of these values.
Might has always been Right, and it always will be. Survival of the fittest has always prevailed. It prevailed in medieval times and is fully in vogue in the educated man’s world. With the world’s nations getting closer, the meaning of these phrases have become more pronounced. By getting closer, physically or electronically, the strong nations are now not ready to mind their own business. Thus weak but peace loving nations are vulnerable to all kinds of threats. A long time back, I watched a Bruce Lee’s movie “Enter the Dragon”, and still remember a dialogue, which said, “It is the strength that makes all values possible”. How wonderfully Allama Iqbal says about this;
ہو صداقت کیلئے جِس دِل میں مرنے کی تڑپ
پہلے اپنے پیکرِخاکی میں جاں پیدا کرے
It again reminds me of a scene from the movie, “Raiders of the Lost Ark”. The leading actor of the film (Harrison Ford) is passing through a village market when suddenly an Egyptian appears in front of him aggressively waving the sword; The hero, unmoved, takes out his pistol and shoots him, and keeps moving on his path. There is a Chinese saying which further guides against such actions that, “Till the time you are weak, keep lying on the ground, you should only get up and fight once you are ready”. About the pro-active preparations, the Holy Quran says (8:60);
“Against them make ready your strength to the utmost of your power, including steeds of war, to strike terror into (the hearts of) the enemies, of Allah and your enemies, and others besides, whom ye may not know, but whom Allah doth know”.
With all the above in mind it has become inevitable for countries like ours to take immediate and solid steps to safeguard the security of our ideological borders. The State and the People have to move side by side to achieve the moral, ethical and peaceful environment that is our legacy as Muslims and Pakistanis.
The State is supposed to devise systems and people are to follow and take part in bringing success to these. The responsibility of social grooming of society falls mainly on people themselves because ultimately it is them who are to suffer.
We must remember that our certificates, diplomas, degrees, honors, medals carry no significance if our roots lack character, fundamental principles, moral values, ethical and religious codes. When these are weak, the tree of our achievements will always remain vulnerable and thus will collapse on testing times.
With all kind of threats all around us, some of the steps that we as a society may think of taking to strengthen ourselves are:
Community Centres: This is a very important aspect. There is a need to build communities by establishing community centres in cities and towns, where mature, dedicated, patriotic people can be employed to bring people together. They can make people aware of the importance of our value system and establish safe and peaceful life in these communities.
Educate Society Through Seminars and Workshops: Seminars and workshops, for common people at the above suggested community centers, should be held for awareness on different issues like personal, community and national security, patriotic emotions, and values of our culture, our religion and the threats that we are facing and on other issues as and when they emerge. This can be planned on smaller scales as well as at national levels.
Sports and Extra Curricular Activities for Children and Youth: Co-Curricular and extra-curricular activities like sports, and debates and declamation contests and discussion forums should be held at the above suggested community centres or other places on regular intervals and more so on the days of national importance (which is already being done to some extent). This will, apart from enhancing the communication and other skills of the students and youth, will also bring the people together on social and moral grounds.
Good Citizens Certificates: A strategy and system can be devised by concerned government offices to initiate award of “Good Citizen” certificates for people doing volunteering work in community building and in any disaster situations / accidents etc. These certificates should have additional points for students in specific cases, like awarding different types of scholarships.
National Defense Skill Development Courses: People interested in national defense both from internal and external threats be trained specific to different understandable threats. This can also be achieved through community centres.
Point to note here is that when a society as a whole gets misaligned, there is no immediate cure. We have to look towards the children and the youth, the next generation, to start the rebuilding process by educating them. As the wisdom of the ages says: ‘If you are planning for a year, sow rice; if you are planning for a decade, plant trees; if you are planning for a lifetime, educate people’. It may seem a long and tedious process but we must realize that it took that long to reach the present disturbed state. As Muslims, we should and we will always be hopeful about the excellent awaiting future. We have seen families starting from lowest ebb, and through the determined hard work progressing to prosperous and stable states. Someone in the family makes these sacrifices and his next generations enjoy comfortable lives. We, as a nation has to grow our new generation on the same lines, that is, by making sacrifices of our thoughts, time and efforts toward a better Pakistan; So that in the next generation or so, Pakistan emerges as a First World country. After all, we don’t love our parents for the reason that they are more intelligent, more honest, more accomplished than others; we love them only because they are OUR parents. So is our country Pakistan.
Awaiting your comments, suggestions, and questions;
Dr Akhtar Nawaz Malik