Smokers’ Corner: Bloodied be thy name
It was horrifying: the beating to death and then the upside down hanging of the two young brothers in Sialkot. Accused of theft, the teenagers were brutally beaten with sticks and kicks by at least four men — an event that was watched in silence by a couple of cops and dozens of onlookers.
Good to see that some of those involved are under arrest, but what about all those people who just stood there and watched as the self-righteous barbarians beat the two young men to death? Let’s not navel-gaze about how insensitive and brutal a society we have become. We all know that.
Yet, like all those cowards who just stood there as mere spectators watching one of the most terrifying cases of public bloodletting unfold in front of their eyes, we too have become victims of a strange sort of apathy when it comes to confronting acts of violence undertaken on the pretext of dispensing justice and upholding morals.
Not an onlooker moved or tried to intervene and stop the madness that took place in Sialkot that day. And one can assume why. There is every likelihood that most of the onlookers believed that the two young men actually deserved the killer punishment. This assumption shouldn’t come as a surprise; especially in a society in which a majority of people (according to polls and surveys) prefer the imposition of violent punishments.
It is a society in which one can find supposedly educated men and women defending the deeds of heartless extremists. They blame the extremists’ unpardonable actions on the anti-Pakistan, anti-Islam activities of the usual list of ‘enemies’ that we are taught through history books and the populist media to be going all out to destroy Pakistan. It is a society that is always chanting about moral justice, and how unjust the West is towards Muslims, but itself won’t move an eyebrow when a series of hideous acts of blatant injustice (such as public beatings, gang rapes, humiliation of women, etc.), take place right underneath their own ostrich-like beaks.
It is as if all our lives our rulers, schools and society have obsessively conditioned themselves into believing that anything done in the name of religion, God and ‘good morals’ is justified, no matter how bloody, violent or inhuman or against the norms of justice. The indoctrination has left us simply stunned and frozen, having no clue how to react to a brutality done in the name of justice. However, this same large body of people becomes a sparkling bundle of activism and rage when confronted by situations in which a politician, a bureaucrat or a cop is exposed for corruption.
Such a queer and split state of mind sees perfectly normal people become passionate decriers and critics of corrupt politicians and loud denouncers of an ‘anti-Islam’ West, but suddenly they become mute witnesses, or haplessly incoherent apologists of preachers, dictators and terrorists who use God, religion and instant justice to commit acts of sheer brutality.
This is a society in which men from all classes can be heard uttering pearls of wisdom such as ‘all politicians should be stood against the wall and shot dead.’ They do not realise that history is full of examples in which extreme thought and ideology after eliminating ‘enemies’ (through firing squads, massacres, genocide, etc.) always rebounds. While looking only for the purists to survive society begins to devour itself in a desperate act of ideological cannibalism. Of course, history also teaches us that which claimed to be the purist in this context, was actually the most foul and unsound.
Those Sialkot brutes and killers, high on an arrogant, inhuman understanding of justice, are symbolic of the unsound extreme thought, shades of which now run in most Pakistanis, educated or otherwise. The unfortunate young men who were killed represent the bleeding and bashed state of whatever little there is left in this republic of anything of the basic human feeling of rights and compassion — also the noble concept of mercy so emphasised in Islam.
And what about all those mute, silent spectators who quietly witnessed the beating; people who witnessed the brutality and injustice (in the name of justice), then went back home, broke their fast, said their prayers and went to sleep? What do they symbolise?
They reflect a society that is like an odd mob, becoming deaf and dumb when an act of brutality is committed against minorities, women and so-called thieves in the name of religion, justice and morals. It is as if this mob convinces its guilty and coward self that most probably the victims being brutalised in the name of justice deserved it. But the same mute mob is then likely to become an animated horde of ravaging mad men when roused by provocative self-appointed custodians of faith and patriotism to ‘save Islam and Pakistan’ from an elusive set of enemies who mostly reside in our increasingly paranoid and self-righteous minds.
Ours is a devastating case of societal schizophrenia. It has its remedies, but these remedies we treat with scorn and suspicion; anything that intensifies and adds to such a split state of mind and being we hail as being our saviour and something close to what we believe is our ideology and nature of faith. We (with our arrogant sense of righteousness, split morals, and warped ideologies), are our own greatest enemy.