The system is in place in such a way as to make your moral compass an extraneous luxury for which you have no use.
The starkest example of this is the infusion of corruption into the nation’s character. If you can think getting a single thing done without the use of money exchanging hands with an employee of the government, you are either extremely fortunate, know someone important (in which case you’ve paid with something else, or you will), or delusional.
A history of violence
Violence, sometimes, is the answer. When war rages and you must defend yourself and the language you speak, there is no alternative. Not every Gandhi in the history of humankind has been successful in overturning historic empires with pacifist ideology.
Many have suffered and died, killed at the mercy of the sword and the gun.
But, that doesn’t mean that, moving forward, that is how it should be. Through the echoes on the streets we hear the roja-starved screams, the soft thuds of fistfights, the honks of frustration. These are the qualities you must have to survive.
What creates this toxic culture? Has history bled itself into our souls so much so that we see blood in the very radical notion of another human being existing to fight for themselves? Or have the patriarchal forces taken over the streets, for they are the ones who run our cities and drive our cars, and injected into our consciousness a need for a masculinity that rests on the shoulders of confrontation and contradiction, on violence made glorious?
Rivers of division
Placed across the multitudinous rivers of Bangladesh lie the wastelands of the rural populace. Starved for food, and an education, they have inherited the retrograde religio-ethnic views of a bygone generation.
The hammered viewpoints of yet-to-die generations, composed of the bigotry that was once necessary for survival, distils into the minds of the youth, drowning it in poison.
Grown up and rage-fuelled, much of it as a result of the lack of a place to call one’s home, they find solace in militancy groups and student-wing/youth-wing political parties. A pseudo-brotherhood is created, by the men, for the men, as a result of the aforementioned masculinity that permeates.
Violence is equated with strength, volume with power; silence with weakness, principles with philosophy. Thus creates a culture cigarette smoke-filled and hungry for purpose. Thus is created a generation ripe for destruction.
The root cause always was and always will be the lack of a proper education. Education isn’t just your ABCs, but the very exposure to other viewpoints is what allows young minds to grow
Add up the variables. Bangladesh finds itself with a generation that has inherited a history of violence, under the influence of the previous generation’s backward views, is uneducated (both in science and in behaviour; one might argue that is an elitist retelling of what constitutes “appropriate” behaviour), is seeking purpose, and is unable to empathise with people of different backgrounds and cultures.
The inevitable result is militancy, terrorism, communal violence. All of these little things add up to what could be its eventual demise. The stench of sweat is infused with the reek of frustration, as the people go about their daily lives.
This is what the Bangladeshi machine wills the cogs which make it up to do.
We, the people, have become, inside its chaotic infrastructure, the wheels which are being used to set in motion political agendas and to give power to personal vendettas.
It was so easy, was it not, to rile up a group of people to torch the homes of the Adivasis in Langadu? It was so easy, and had happened so often in the past, in fact, that the locals predicted it and fled the scene before they could be harmed.
Their possessions, however, were not so lucky.
The backbone of a nation
This is the eventuality that is staring us in the face. The sad fall of a growing powerhouse.
The economy is booming, standards of living are somewhat raised, other countries know of our existence, only to implode from factors in the inside.
The root cause always was and always will be the lack of a proper education. Education isn’t just your ABCs, but the very exposure to other viewpoints which allows young minds to grow.
Religion need not be the violent force it has become, but the complementary ideals to go alongside the countless others which reside within the world. Nationalism mustn’t be like that either.
When your entire world resides within the four walls of our social upbringing, anything else out of it is either immaterial, or a threat that must be destroyed for it seeks to nullify the only world you know.
This must change. We must, at all costs, somewhat ironically, lose our convictions, so we may build them up again.
SN Rasul is an Editorial Assistant at the Dhaka Tribune.