20 June 2014

We were once a civil and progressive country, but day by day, it seems like we are no longer the country we once were.

THERE are many things that I love about this country that I was born in and have lived in my whole life. But when it starts to give me knots in my stomach and a constant feeling of dread, I can’t help but wish it were another type of country, one where everybody feels easy and comfortable living in it.

It would be all right if things that happen actually make sense but every day things make less and less sense. I am starting to dream about living in a different type of country where everyone can go their own way and live in peace without harassment from anyone.

In another type of country, people are not afraid to apologise when they’ve done something wrong. Indeed, they come out as more honourable people. Instead, we have people whose main stock in trade is hubris. It is what makes them unable to lift charges against people who have done no wrong, leaving them forever in suspended animation.

Hubris is what makes some people unable to backtrack on a mistake they made, finding ever more convoluted justifications for it. Pure arrogance is what makes them dis- obey court orders and say they answer to nobody else. Never mind that this is exactly the sort of attitude that leads to the anarchy that they themselves fear.

In another type of country, the police would just follow the law and not think up interpretations that keep them sitting on their hands in the face of injustice. Especially, when it involves children and the mothers they should always be with, by any type of law.

If this was another type of country, when people have been slack at their jobs and this led to many fatalities, they would resign. We now know that had some people paid better attention and taken quick action, the fate of MH370 might not be still a mystery today more than 100 days after it disappeared.

In another country, the highest officials in charge of our skies would have stepped down from their jobs because that is the honourable thing to do. But who cares about honour or respect in this country?

If we were another type of country, we would stop declaring war on our own people. The so-called war on drugs has stopped neither drug trafficking nor drug addiction. Now, we are going to have a war on the homeless.

Without understanding the reasons why people are living on the streets, a war on them would be akin to waging a war on refugees and blaming host countries for being too generous while doing nothing about the violence in their home countries that drove them to leave in the first place. But it is so much easier to declare war than to wage peace. Ask George Bush.

If we were a rational, compassionate country, we would be declaring a war on the increasing violence against women and children and stop the abuses, gang rapes, kidnappings and murders. How do our officials tasked with protecting women and children justify their existence otherwise?

If we were a sensible country, we would stop lauding the mean and the vile as heroes. We would stop fearing the consequences of showing compassion and fairness towards those suffering injustice. We would just be plain decent folk doing the right thing by people.

If we were a normal country, we would never be proud of being unable to control ourselves and possibly inflicting violence on others. We would never insist on having laws to keep ourselves under control, even while we claim to be pious.

In fact, normal people are usually ashamed to describe themselves as having potential for violence. But we are not living in a normal country anymore.

If this was another country, the very idea of chopping off anyone’s hands for stealing or stoning people for adultery would be too repulsive to even discuss. But today, these punishments are what people seriously think will solve all our problems. The bankruptcy of ideas is there for all to see.

If this were a place where things made sense, a woman could never be divorced years after her husband died. Or get her wedding interrupted by officials from another religion. Or had her burial delayed because of a long-forgotten alleged conversion. Or had her underaged children taken away from her by a husband who converted to another religion. Isn’t it funny how these things always seem to happen to women?

Yet we were once a civil and progressive country. Where people respected one another and got on fine. Once we eschewed violence of any kind, and certainly not on one another. Today, we even go to foreign countries and blow ourselves up.

We are no longer the country we once were. The question is, why?