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বাংলা
Dhaka Tribune

OP-ED: Why are we so distastefully intolerant?

We need to be more supportive towards one another


Update : 24 Apr 2021, 02:19 AM

Two incidents last week were utterly disturbing, and displayed the unlimited extent of our collective intolerant attitude towards each other. One was in Banshkhali, Chittagong during a workers’ protest, and the other in Dhaka, where a physician and some law enforcers got involved in an unhealthy verbal feud.

I had no option but to watch the cop-doc feud video. It was all over the news, on YouTube, as well as on Facebook. There was no way I could escape it. However, after watching the video, I wished I hadn't watched it.

I know we collectively lack a sense of civil etiquette, but I never imagined that our behaviour to each other could be so distasteful.

First of all, no law enforcer could say for sure, with hand on his/her heart, that he or she is stopping each and every citizen or vehicle during the lockdown and checking everybody’s movement pass. We know how they, the enforcers, work at different checkposts. They allow 30 vehicles to pass and then they stop one.

Somehow, they stopped the vehicle in which the lady doctor was commuting to her workplace. The police, as well as the magistrate accompanying them, very well realized that she was a physician and she was needed at her workplace to treat the Covid victims.

Despite that and all associated aspects of being a doctor, they sought her identity card. She was wearing a physician’s apron with her workplace’s logo inscribed on it. Don’t tell me that she faked the inscription. She also had an official paper pasted on the windshield of her car.

Now, what is official? If we mean that only government-approved papers are official, I believe we’re making a mistake somewhere.

Then, on the other hand, if I were that doc, in the cops-magistrate query, I would have humbly told them: “I am a physician and have left my ID at home, but I am required to take care of the many Covid patients -- kindly allow me to go.”

She didn’t. On the other hand, she yelled at the herd. We enjoyed the rant. However, that wasn’t quite needed if she really wanted to serve her purpose. It was obvious that she was quite stressed. With that level of stress, how would she treat her patients with a calm mind? 

Surprisingly, during the verbal feud, everybody started claiming that all their fathers were freedom fighters in 1971. What an obnoxious way to tarnish the image of the most valuable sons of the soil -- the muktijoddhas.

I only pray that they didn’t watch this substandard behaviour of their progeny towards each other.

Having mentioned that disturbing event, let us look at the Banshkhali incident. Unfortunate. Sad and tragic. The police open-fired on a workers’ protest and a few men died.

Apparently, it looks very simple. The law enforcers had to do so in order to maintain order. To stop the unrest. Agreed. But real bullets! Was the person who ordered to fire in his or her right mind? What happened to rubber bullets?

About 6,000 workers are engaged in that power plant, and they claimed they were not paid in time. The police said the workers started throwing bricks and mortars at them and they acted in self-defense. With real bullets?! 

When does a protest erupt? When your governance fails. And in order to hide the failure of your governance, the police had to open fire at the country’s citizens? Five dead and many wounded.

Is that how our employers and law enforcers should behave with the workers? 

On the other hand, the workers had set a few vehicles on fire (that’s what I watched on TV) during their protest. Poor act. Very pathetic on your part. If that is the language of our protest in this country, I must say that we are suffering from deep psychological trouble.

In the week before the last, we had also witnessed, with the help of the media, the police taking position with machine guns and sandbags in front of the police stations. From the photos that were published in the newspapers, it looked like wartime preparation.

OK, I understand. That was when we feared that the radical religionists would create more unrest. Maybe we wanted to communicate that we were ready to act should there be any such unrest. But with machine guns? Who are aiming at with those guns? I believe these guns are also a sign of intolerance on the administration’s part.

I’m writing this piece for expressing that it makes my mind miserable to observe the unbridled incidences of intolerance in our society. These two incidents are only tiny examples of millions of such events that we have to experience every day.

With that extent of intolerance and anger at each other, a society may not progress much. I believe the lack of tolerance is a disease that creates infinite stress and, trust me, the stress creates all sorts of physical ailments. The lack of tolerance also makes us emotionally unintelligent, which may lead to the birth of an immature society.

It’s time for the centre to hold, and it’s time for the citizens to be supportive towards each other. We have many more challenges lurking on the horizon. 

Ekram Kabir is a yogi, a story-teller, and a communications professional. His other works are available on ekramkabir.com.

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