Eid has always been a special occasion. But this time it stands apart from the Eids in recent years. The rather unique backdrop to the festival is as much carved out by our cricketing success as it is riddled with despicable acts of inhumanity.
The joy of ODI series victory against South Africa, a highly rated national side is the pinnacle of glory in an unbroken chain of wins against Zimbabwe, Pakistan and India. As an emotional people we are truly over the moon in greeting the Eid-ul-Fitr with added enthusiasm and a huge sense of self-worth. United in our joy with a stronger sense of belonging, we feel the spirit of nationalism has been renewed.
Even Mark Twain once said, ‘I can’t stand prosperity. I mean yours.’ Possibly, given his literary stature it was not meant to be a reflection on his persona; rather he was making a joke of the jealous side of human nature.
Our cricketing prosperity may not be received as well as it merits. Perhaps who had said something adverse in the past over a ‘minnow’ scampering up to inch ahead and not quite making it wouldn’t change their opinion overnight. They are likely to stress the home advantage and dare our team to win on foreign soil. Of course, on test side and the issue of doing equally better in matches hosted by other countries we have to prove ourselves. Nevertheless, we have defeated Australia, England, India and Pakistan on matches played out of Bangladesh.
Excelling in sports and games can give a new dimension to a country’s image and by God, cricket has a huge magnetism. Just think of Ashes, England having been defeated by Australia at the Oval on August 29, 1882, a sport journal wrote an obituary on the demise of English cricket. So intensely had the emotions welled up among the disappointed English cricket fans. The legend goes that a wooden ball would be subsequently burned to ashes and encased in an urn. That made the trophy which to this day changes hands between Australia and England.
That said, are we with a clear conscience going to celebrate the greatest festival of the Islamic calendar that enjoys universal appeal across faiths? We cannot say ‘yes’ with hands on our chest in affirmation. When contemptible crimes are committed against helpless children the whole community’s role comes under severe questioning.
Martin Luther King said, ‘I follow conscience because it is safe and right’. Conscience is right as it is a moral voice from within urging us to perform good acts, at least not to abet in inhuman acts under human guise. That following conscience is ‘safe’ is an obvious thing to say and a practical rule of behaviour as well. If you follow conscience you save yourself and anyone you might have targeted as a victim from the consequences of your action by pulling out of it in time. Some people fail both tests. They not only commit blatant crimes but are damningly unmindful of the dire consequences they face.
Just recall the Rajon murder and its aftermath, you conjure up a spokes-of-a-wheel involvement, directly or indirectly, of so many persons — it simply boggles the mind. Those involved in video recording, putting it on the YouTube, witnesses to the medieval cruelty, the police who tried to sweep it under the carpet and helped send a perpetrator out of the country, are all accomplices in the crime. They were just enjoying the barbaric act; though any one of them could have stopped it by sending a word around. This means that individuals are not merely devoid of conscience, the whole society has stooped to a degraded state of losing its conscience.
Within a few days of beating Rajon to death, two girls in a Barisal orphanage were whiplashed by a staff in all the 20 minutes of the video clip. As the victims’ bodies coiled up in pain and cries for help rent the air nobody came to their aid. Why, because the orphanage administration has been applying such corporal punishment against what they alleged as attempted ‘truancy’ of the girls!
We are adept in the art of expressing public outcries after something has happened and not showing the flair in a preventative sense. Expression of anger, shock and protests means blowing some hot air and then cooling off before another barbarity comes to haunt us.
In the past, we used to say, ‘Every secret crime has its reporter. There is no den in the wide world to hide a rogue; commit a crime and the earth is made of glass.’ Now we say, there are video recording enthusiasts with small devices whose pastime it is to capture the images of a crime being committed rather than standing up against it with social commitment. Today, it is another person, tomorrow it might be one of our own.
So, listen to what the publicists say, ‘You yourself are guilty of crime when you don’t punish crime.’
So long as we do not hand down the stiffest of punishment to a social offender, the impunity culture will feed on itself as an all devouring monster.
The writer is Associate Editor, The Daily Star.