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All these things that we've done

  • Published at 10:33 pm January 1st, 2020
footpath walkway
Photo: Syed Zakir Hossain/Dhaka Tribune

But that should not stop us from doing so

Things have changed. And in many ways, they have not.

It seems that this last decade has gone by within the blink of an eye. And within this blink, Bangladesh has evolved to become a nation that is in many ways unrecognisable from the one that we left in 2009. 

It has experienced unprecedented growth, people’s lives have improved to an extent that was heretofore unimaginable, and I, personally, cannot move from point A to point B without using a ride-sharing app, using 4G internet to connect to a nearby motorcycle rider or car driver immediately.

This also goes to show exactly to what extent technology, too, has come to rule our lives. 

And much of this would not have been possible if the country we live in and the way it is being run did not incentivise these changes. It would not have been possible if the world had not pushed us to become more and more involved with the way we function has a species, thereby almost creating a people that behaves differently in familiar situations and, consequently, presenting us with unfamiliar situations.

And it is these unfamiliar situations (including some familiar situations) that require our focus as we look forward to a new decade for Bangladesh (and, in an increasingly globalised world, the entire planet). 

Change is always welcome but it is something that we also fear. It means getting out of our comfort zone, finding ourselves in unfamiliar territory. This is why change is so difficult, even if this change is positive, because there are so many amongst us who fear it. 

But that should not stop us from doing so.

While we have experienced vicissitudes unforeseen, we have also been stuck in the past. Bangladesh’s entire ecosystem is dependent on the reliability of corruption where we see briberies and under-the-table transactions and nepotism be the root of all movement.

We continue to build grand bridges and great flyovers and presumably efficient and life-improving metro rail lines, but if all of this is catalysed by corrupt practices, it only means that we are replacing the method through which corruption is practiced, and these new additions to our life will remain just as they were: Corrupt, inefficient, ineffective, and dangerous.

We continue to hold on to our past (and rightfully so; our past cannot be forgotten) but it cannot remain the only thing that gives us our identity. Our independence cannot remain our greatest achievement.

We need to change not only the landscape that we call our motherland, but we need to evolve as a people to change our perceptions, to see this landscape differently and thereby change the way we behave.

This will require a collective willingness to do so, otherwise all these innovations, all that we have achieved will be for nothing.

When building something new, we must understand its value, so that we may use it efficiently and effectively. When a child is born, we must remember that this life must be protected and provided for at all costs, even at great sacrifice to ourselves. When an action harms the environment, we must take all precautions to ensure that it does not continue to do so, and understand that we are part of a rapidly changing world where climate change has become a very real threat. When a woman is raped, we must do everything in our power to ensure that she feels that we are on their side. 

These changes, unfortunately, we have not been able to make. We still continue to flounder in the depths of a retrograde mode of thinking which has us continuously stuck in the midpoint between the past and the present. 

We must, with conviction, use the beginning of this new decade to jump off into an era of peaceful coexistence and sympathy for our fellow man and woman. Marginalisation must become a thing of the past and it should remain there, where it rightfully belongs.

Yes, independence gave us an opportunity. But independence itself cannot be the thing that defines us, on the heels of which we overshadow every new achievement. This is a new era, a new opportunity, and it is time we took advantage of the opportunity that independence gave us. 

SN Rasul is Editorial Assistant, Dhaka Tribune.