Why do we find it so difficult to be proud of the success of others?
There’s an interesting story about us Bengalis.
God will not require any security guards in hell where Bengalis will be sent to be punished. In the absence of security guards, many of us might try to escape. But wait. No. You won’t be able to escape even if there weren’t any guards around. The toher Bengalis would pull us back when we tried to escape. So, God’s Bengali hell would be quite OK without any guards.
Often, we joke about it, but seriously speaking, the story nicely reflects our character, the way we feel about the success, achievement, or happiness of a fellow Bengali.
Anybody who makes money in this country is a bad person to us; he or she must have resorted to unfair ways to make money. That’s our understanding.
We have to demonize every Bengali who wants to do something for the country, who wants to excel in his or her professional arena, who wants to take us to the next level.
It’s inherent in us; we emit all the vile bile that we have within us. We can’t accept such a Bengali person. A Bengali should be like us -- mediocre, unfed, unsuccessful, unnoticed, with no achievements.
And social media is the perfect environment for us to pour out immature thoughts against our own people. The pandemic has also helped us to be focused on exhibiting our merit on social media.
Our first scapegoats were Dr Bijon Kumar Sil, Gonoshasthaya Kendra, and Dr Zafrullah Chowdhury. We didn’t know what a pandemic was like and we made many mistakes while addressing the crisis. Some people were trying show us the way. But we didn’t like their initiatives and attempts to work for a society in distress. We started demonizing them, both politically as well as in apolitical ignorance.
In another instance, we came to know that one of our pharmaceutical companies had run a preliminary trial for a Covid vaccine.
On the company’s behalf, Dr Asif Mahmud had come before the media to present their case and the development made so far. At a point during the press briefing, Dr Asif broke into tears while answering the questions of the media.
The pictures and the video of Dr Asif went viral on social media. And the Facebook half-educated [pardon my language] militia started demonizing him, saying that he was acting on a live press conference just to make money on behalf of his company.
What are we? Cavemen? Have we lost our ability to think clearly? Anybody who tries to come up with a solution to any national problem, we leave no stone unturned in going after him or her.
Aren’t we supposed to be happy that a company in Bangladesh has tried to invent a vaccine? That they have tried should be something we praise and appreciate. Rather, we started demonizing that person and the institution. We are very good at character-assassination while we ourselves don’t have any damn contribution toward society or the country. All we do is vilify others.
Take the example of Ayman Sadiq, the founder of 10-Minute School.
A group of so-called Islamic-minded people have been threatening to kill Ayman Sadiq on Facebook and YouTube.
They have released some videos. Why? Because a former employee of 10-Minute School had posted a status on his profile in support of homosexuality. And that’s why Ayman Sadiq should be killed, they demanded.
Speechless! Hilarious! Atrocious!
I’m sure these people aren’t in their right minds.
What is the contribution of the people who are issuing the threats? What have they done for the country? Nothing, absolutely nothing. They don’t even have any skills to contribute. They are not even trying to learn any skills that are required to do something for society.
And with that wit, you want to kill a person who has been helping millions of poor people in their education.
The problem with us is, I believe, that most of us are incapable of achieving what Dr Bijon, Dr Zafrullah, Dr Asif, and Ayman Sadiq could. Most of us are losers, and are lazy, and we can’t stand those who have at least been trying to make a difference for the nation.
Remember, we went after a Bangladeshi Everest climber a few years ago, and tried to prove that he had actually failed to climb, and that he was lying about what he had accomplished. Poor us! Most of us wouldn’t have the courage to even think of climbing Mt Everest, and here we are trying to prove a fellow Bengali a loser.
I am happy with the fact that a Bengali tried to reach the summit, a Bengali tried to invent the Covid vaccine, a Bengali tried to provide free education to all his fellow Bengalis. That’s it! I’m ready to appreciate their willingness and eagerness to help the nation while I sit idle, just doing a job to earn my living.
Let me conclude this piece by telling another story.
A long time ago, when I was working with an English daily, one day, a gentleman came by with two books on arithmetic which he himself had authored.
He claimed that he had debunked the theories of arithmetic that we have known so far. I was impressed when he told me all that. He wanted to meet my editor.
I went up to my editor and requested him to listen to the gentleman. My editor laughed and refused. The man left with a heavy heart but left a phone number with me.
A year later, I called that number and wanted to talk to him. But I was informed that the US embassy had come to know about him and had invited him to go there and continue his research. The mathematician had left for the US.
Ekram Kabir is a story-teller and a communications professional. His other works can be found on ekramkabir.com.