A mere number!

Jun 18th, 2011 | By | Category: Social

What have we come to? Are we not a mess?

It is as though our humanity has been stripped away from us. Violence, violence, and more violence, plus so much of indifference! We have lost our ability to feel; to feel the sacredness of the value of life. Human suffering is gradually meaning to us not more than a matter of individual concern. Whatever happens around us, for us what matters is our lives, our lifestyles, our careers, our possessions, our image… our everything. We have individualized our universe. Happiness has become, but an individual property.

We live in a place called Pakistan; a place where death is a mere number, despite the fact that we belong to a religion that teaches us that the sacredness of human life is above everything; a religion that teaches us that the unjustified murder of one is like the murder of all humanity.

Every day, we listen to death tolls as we listen to match scores. When hearing the news of killings or casualties, our facial expressions and feelings fail to carry the intensity of the news. We then ask, as if for formality, “How many?” And hence we put all the suffering, the loss of lives, and things attached to it, in a mere number.

What has brought us to such a condition? Is it not but the daily violence, the daily oppression and the daily injustice we collectively go through? Every day we see drone attacks, target killings, and suicide bombings on the top of mass corruption, institutional exploitation, and poor governance!

We have developed an every-man-for-himself psyche. But what else can be done?

Hazrat Umer (RA) has always been presented as a perfect model of justice. But we also learn that a time came when he temporarily lifted the usual punishment for stealing. But what was so specific about this time. The nation was facing a crisis of famine, and the state could not fulfil its responsibility of providing basic necessities . Hence if the state is not able to fulfil the social contract with the people then it is wrong to expect the people to respect the same?

Saint Augustine said, “In the absence of justice, what is sovereignty but organized robbery?” Without justice, are not parliaments, police stations and courts, mere centres of exploitation? How can you expect peace when there is no justice? When courts further exploit you, when the police robs you, and the government lives lavishly off you; how can you expect citizens to respect the state and its institutions?

But there is justice being done somewhere. Of course, extra-judicial justice that is. In fact, the very enforcers of law break the law, all in the name of justice. Needless to say, however, this justice exempts all those who have any socio-political backing, or wealth and prestige. You don’t need to escape the hands of law, you only need to shake them.

A friend of mine came to me and asked whether I saw a video he posted on facebook? He said  it had made him cry. This video was of a youngster, being viciously murdered by law enforcement agencies in broad daylight in a crowded park. After seeing the video, which surfaced all over the social networking site, I asked as to why he cries for the one he was able to see. What about all those painful and degrading deaths which go nameless and unmentioned. Yes the media cashed the situation fully. But does that make this single incident any more significant than all others? Should we not extend our frustration and sorrow for all oppressed? Not only those who made it, somehow, to the camera.

Some claim that this victim of brutality was yet another mobile snatcher, or a criminal. These people cause so much damage, and he, apparently, got a taste of his own medicine. But little is realized that such accusations are irrelevant. For, if criminals are to be punished in such a manner, why not start with the big fish? Why is such treatment reserved for the weak and poor? Why those powerful and wealthy  just get away with it?

This young man was murdered. But it wasn’t just him. Justice was slain. In this state of zero justice, the people cannot be expected to behave in a civilized fashion. Their actions are  products of exploitation and oppression.

But we remain silent and numb. And by putting the value of life in a mere number, we wait passively for our own turn to be added to the count.

Saad Lakhani is a motivated young writer, a student of Social Sciences from Karachi.

Saad Lakhani

About the author

Saad Lakhani is a student of Social Sciences based in Karachi. He tweets @Saadlakhani12

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  1. A nice one…!!

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