• Friday, Nov 22, 2019
  • Last Update : 06:34 pm

How cruel we can be

  • Published at 12:02 am October 19th, 2019
Both mind and body need proper care
Photo: BIGSTOCK

Why are we witnessing so much death and destruction in our society?

When you have to encounter the harsh reality of a father allegedly killing his own child in order to trap someone, you certainly have to worry about the mental health of a large number of people in Bangladesh.

According to Ain o Salish Kendra, at least 1,644 children faced violence -- while 182 of them were outright killed -- between January to September of this year. 

It’s unnerving to even imagine how our society has taken the lives of 182 children -- in nine months no less.

I believe killing anyone is an act of cruelty, not to mention a crime. At the same time, it also signals some level of mental degradation on the part of the killer, no matter the scenario. And killing a child is perhaps the biggest sign of that mental degradation. 

The father who wanted to exact revenge on an enemy by killing his own child clearly reveals that he is a man devoid of love for anyone, any human; if a person can kill his own child for the pettiest of reasons, he can kill anyone and can commit any crime.

The recent killing of Buet student Abrar Fahad is yet another example.

The way he was beaten to death is a reflection of how we often act without thinking about the consequences.

When someone doesn’t think before his or her actions, that state of mind is nothing short of unnatural, and which can lead to various sorts of unnatural actions. Cruelty is among them.

Abrar isn’t the only one who has been subjected to our cruelty; our culture of “gangsterism” has taken many lives through various acts of violence and cruelty. You barely ever see anyone from the public step up when a person is being beaten up or threatened with violence out in the open.

It’s not just Abrar or Biswajit, of course, our history is mired in such cruelty. We have fought amongst ourselves at the political level, at the individual level, as well as the community level, and have let slip just how ugly we can be as a people many times. 

If we can compute the number of people who have been killed since 1972, the figure would be nothing if not interesting.

Remember, we have seen how political dissenters have set buses full of people on fire just to make a point. If that isn’t cruelty, I don’t know what is.

How can someone decide to set public transportations on fire simply to win against his or her political rivals?

I guess they needed bodies to keep their political tango on. The father who killed his own child to get back at his enemies must have had some sort of inspiration from such actions, sacrificing the lives of others just to get their own way.

A few months ago, we started to lynch people on suspicion that the victims were all kidnappers.

Who in their right mind can beat up a person on the streets whom he/she doesn’t even know?

We are indeed a cruel lot, otherwise beating someone to death wouldn’t occur in our minds at all. 

Our cruelty doesn’t stop here. Just look at our schools.

How the teachers manhandle their students when the students fail to do the homework, if the students show any sort of undisciplined behaviour, or if the students don’t listen to the teachers -- there are millions of teachers who resort to beating up their students in order to teach them a lesson.

A great many students have suffered dire consequences at the hands of their teachers. This is not how teachers are supposed to behave.

If we claim ourselves to be a civilized society, we need to first be civil to our students, and by extension, ourselves. Students aren’t fully grown adult minds yet, and thus we shouldn’t expect them to behave like adults either. But the teachers are grown-ups. So why are they failing to act their age themselves? What excuse do they have?

While I call our people brutal and cruel, we must also think of another aspect: Is there something fundamentally wrong with our psyche that is leading us into behaving this way? Is there anything that we want to vent? Anger? Frustration, perhaps?

Is the media that we consume as entertainment and information leading us to be cruel? Are we all watching violence and cruelty all the time in the media? Should we consider this as a subject of research?

Over the years, with development and with technological advancement, our behaviour has changed -- I believe we have become less tolerant and more inconsiderate. I believe the current social goings-on are a reminder for us to rethink our behaviour when it comes to other living creatures.

If we don’t do so, graver and crueller times are ahead of us. And you can’t stop everything by enforcing the law. 

Ekram Kabir is a story-teller. His other works can be found on ekramkabir.com.