By Zafar Ahmad
Among the members in animal kingdom, sapiens are known as the super beings due to their superior mental capabilities and, thus, their ability to adapt to the environment with changing time. The sapiens not just adapt to their environment but could also exert considerable control upon their environment to serve their needs and improve their living standards. In the process a part of environment is built by men known as ‘culture’ which becomes their way of life.
Throughout its evolution, man has been struggling to improve his way of life and thus building better and better culture. History witnesses great sapiens who contributed more in the joint effort towards progress. Yet some regions took edge and built civilizations like the early Greeks who stood higher than the rest of the world.
However, this progress did not continue without hindrances. With time mafia like elements emerged who instead of understanding culture building as continuity took it as a divine law which must be preserved. The security guards of culture brutally crushed all those elements which could contribute in the continuity of ‘culture building’. Intellectuals like Socrates were forced to drink poison or compelled to declare their philosophies as false.
With the collapse of Roman Empire, the cultural security guards took full commands over one part of the world- pushing the whole of Europe through the ‘Dark Ages’. The reign of terror where intellectual works were considered against the divine law and hence ‘infidelity’ continued till the crusades. With the end of crusades, the people in Europe realized that what they tended to guard on the name of culture was in fact its stagnation which leads towards death and there was no point in guarding something which was death. Thus, the intellectual quest towards building ‘better culture’ once again started eventually compelling the forces of the time to do the historical ‘Magna Charta’.
Then an era of struggles started, the Enlightenment Era, where all those elements which claim to preserve culture were put to scrutiny under the lens of ‘reason’ and pass the test of ‘criticism’. Slogans rose which called ‘continuity is life while stagnation is death’ and, since, culture is associated with living being so there was no point to stagnate it. Time proved that things which they did on the name of ‘cultural preservation’ were in fact anti-cultural. Similarly, the people which they labeled as ‘anti-cultural’ and hence ‘disloyal and traitors’ were the people which could have really contributed in building ‘better culture’. History, then, witnesses that following the ‘Enlightenment Values’ the sapiens developed better culture and dominated more and more aspects of their environment for collective well-being.
While Europe was following progress, at the same time the rest of world, particularly Asia, was stagnating with futile debates of ‘what is cultural and what is not’ and, hence, ‘who is loyal and who is the traitor’ etc. It seemed as if the ‘Dark Ages’ of Europe had come to Asia. Sadly, the legacy of ‘Dark Ages’ continued even after the establishment of Pakistan reaching to its peak under the dark Ziaism.
In the 21st century where the nations are competing on economic and technological levels, we are still travelling in the wrong directions. Where our dear friend China has become a superpower, while our arch rival India is rapidly becoming an economic power. Even our beloved Saudi Arabia is revisiting its policies to adapt to demand of time. We still have no time apart from guarding our culture, which as per us is a law which no one should dare challenge. In our holy society genius people are labeled as the traitors for voicing against the inhuman practices in our culture like acid attacks on women, child marriages, child abuses etc. In city of ‘Khadimy Aala’ sub-humans molest children, yet no one’s conscience gets shocked. A girl from Swat rising voice for girls’ education is shot dead and she becomes the chief conspirator against our culture. A girl in D.I. Khan is forced to walk naked in the village by the villagers, yet a legislator is being found to suppress the case. Those daring to speak against such brutalities are labeled as the one bringing bad names to our culture in the eyes of the cultural security guards.
Even in Chitral-the so called land of peace and civilization-the situation is no better. Rapid human humiliations are being witnessed which could shake the conscience of any living society. However, stagnated societies hardly have any heart at all. Unprecedentedly high rates of youth suicides are largely culturally triggered to which mostly women are vulnerable. In our holy culture a victim of harassment gets no sympathy unless she has to take her own life inside the premises of the school. An allegedly rape victim is thrown to the river. A school girl of third grade is reportedly struck off form the school by the teacher for not caring her child properly. Yet, all these inhuman practices are not enough to leave any dent in the conscience of our culture. In fact, these should not get any sympathy as discussing and exposing inhuman practices bring bad name to our culture which our cultural security guards will resist at any cost. Hence, every such case will get buried under the carpet so that our shining culture remains shining. What we do not understand is ‘culture is not a law which must not change, rather it is the man made part of the life which should improve with time’~
“Continuity is life, stagnation is death.”
(The writer is Lecturer of Sociology, Higher Education Department KP).