Principles and teamwork

imageSomewhere in Turkey, ninety families will be mourning their near ones today. At the same time their nation will be celebrating their heroes, who rose out of nowhere to do what was right.

Last night was one of those magical times in life, when correctness and equity occurs. Also as always, when great events occur, sacrifices are made and some people become heroes, as in the case of the ninety heroes.

I was just going to sleep, when a chance check brought me to these events last night. The next five hours were some of the most intense I have witnessed. This was reality television on a very large scale. A world wide view. It is also interesting to note that the Pakistani channels were at least a couple of hours ahead on reporting events compared to CNN and BBC. So at 6 am the foreign channels were reporting that a coup is still in progress, while Pakistan reported before 5 am, that the coup had failed. Since its not a question of resources, I then surmise it is more a case of politics and policy for CNN and BBC.

What enthused me most was that the events showed the two very qualities, which I have always been passionate about and which in my mind always lead to success. Belief in principles and resultant teamwork. Erdogan and the Turkish people stood by what is right and that belief made them last night. A President in trouble, back against the wall, was probably looking at death and ignominy, when he stuck his neck out, extraordinarily went via his smartphone on the national media circuit and rallied the country to come on the street (how many Pakistani leaders would have the guts to do this? Bar one…your own conscience would tell you that). Erdogan did that with guts, passion and belief. His people, stood by his call of principle. They believed him, because they valued him and trusted him. Then the teamwork happened. The leaders instruction was followed and contact made between individuals and unified action was taken in so many places. The most remarkable was the storming of a tank, while guns and machine guns were being fired. These were ordinary, unarmed humans who prevailed. The heart just races, when one sees that event.

You know, we in Pakistan were like that at one time. The first rally against the armed police of Ayub Khan happened in Karachi, October 15th, 1968. It went past my school in Depot Lines on the way to Saddar, which was the rally area at the time. I witnessed that as a young kid. Next day, the first student was killed at Gordon College Rawalpindi, commencing a five month successful resistance to bring down a dictator. Again principles and teamwork. Similarly, Karachi resisted in 1977 for four months, so that flawed election results could be rewound. Somewhere, we lost that passion for right as a nation, though individual candles still burn. I was in Lahore when sweets were distributed when Nawaz Sharif was deposed on October 12th, 1999. Partially, this is the lack of trust in and commitments of our leaders and partially it is because we have no principles left as a nation. We are only individuals thinking around ourselves.

So it was exhilarating to see a burning star for once. A star one could marvel in. Long may the Turkish people stand by principles and work like a team.

Democracy..I do wonder about niggles

DemocracyIn the days post the elections in Pakistan, I wondered (like many) about the whole electoral process. This naturally raised question on the system of democracy itself and the pain one goes through to see it perform even at the present sub-optimal level.  Its not to say that we should get rid of democracy and experiment again; sixty plus years of that is enough. No! At the moment there is nothing which can viably replace a mass selection system – democracy. But, I honestly wish there was something better for mankind, which would take us to a higher level of humanity. Atleast, away from all this killing and infliction of pain on innocents.

So to my gripe. Allow me that indulgence. Below are some of the thoughts which make me wonder. 

 

My first niggle. We can vote for evil people – Hitler!- and it is my right to vote for this type in a democracy..where is the play of conscience? For those not aware, Hitler actually came to rule via the ballot box. There was much evidence that the man was evil or mad, but the Germany of 1933 wanted a strongman and got one. Much to the detriment of themselves and the world. They learnt 65 million deaths later.

 

People who are standing for elections, generally desire to be elected. This has huge psychological implications. Now they have a vested interest and are on the slippery slope of corruption. There is substantial research which backs this theory; desire for power itself is a form of corruption. So at least we should be allowed to view a psychosomatic profile of the candidates.

 

A criminal has the same authority as an upstanding member of society. Where is the justice in that?  So a criminal (convicted) can vote and displace people, as much as you an upstanding person can. It is possible that such a person will vote for one of their own ilk. Our natural sense of right agonizes at such an eventuality.

 

The inefficiency of the system…if I make tall promises and people vote for me, it will take years before I will be called to account. Years of corruption and inefficiency…damage may be huge, voters learning from previous mistakes can take generations. Education, common sense and wisdom become an imperative among voters. Hence education in democracies is so important, which alas we do not have.

 

Elections are an advertising game. As consumer companies use advertising to sell goods we do not need, so the candidate persuades you to vote for him/her, maybe on platforms which do not affect you at all. The science exists. Its all been refined and a good marketeer will get inside your brain and convince you, without you even realizing it.

 

Big money is a necessary game in democracies. Advertising requires lots of money, as does electoral visibility. This includes ground activation to be in touch with your electorate. A huge amount has to be spent on research to understand the electorate itself. And then the logistic costs of moving people on the day of the election is massive. Top it all, to manage all the above, a large organization is required, which requires funds. A good democratic choice cannot be put on the ballot paper, without large funding. Obama spent over $1bn to run his campaign in 2012. So then is this open to all and sundry?!

 

Then the awful nexus with capitalism. Democracy tends to be at its workable best, if it is a capitalistic society. This allows the rich to get richer and its not necessary that the poor prosper – however the middle class tends to improve marginally. In the US the divide has sharply increased and the top 1% wealthy have increased dramatically since 1980, while the poor and homeless numbers have skyrocketed.

 

Lastly close to us, the rigging..but a lot happens in many places. Whether it is by force, threats, systemic or fragmented, it happens. Last elections in Kenya resulted in genocide. In 2000, the US Presidential elections were hijacked. Against the actual voting numbers, which went to Al Gore…the other candidate Bush won. Talk to Karachites, Lahorites, or Abrar in PTI. The evil taste left after these events, makes one wonder. My own sense is that something which is achieved by subterfuge, will not be of benefit to anyone.

 ” Our little systems have their day;

They have their day and cease to be:

They are but broken lights of thee,

And thou, O Lord, art more than they.”

Tennyson 

My fervent wish is that we are able to refine this choice and selection process to the level, where we can say with pleasure, that democracy is really democracy. Inshallah. We need some form of harmony in this country.

* The democracy picture is taken from Wylio.com, a free picture site, and is owned by Dominic Alves.

A Quantum Leap of change in Pakistan

imagePost elections many younger people have felt dissatisfaction at the process applied during elections and (I fear) we face disenfranchising these people, who are part of the future of Pakistan. So, I have tried below to show them the philosophy of change and how what has happened in the last few days is a positive step.

A society is a web, connected, intermingled and when you move a small wheel, it will move a larger wheel and so move a still larger one and thus the societal machine will work like any other machine. Small movement, cause and effect translates into large changes over time. A small change now, leads to large change 30 years from now. An example; the creation of madrassas in the late 70’s is today a massive part of Pakistan’s social fabric.
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Thus  I watched with interest the changes which could allude to larger change, during these elections. Simple little changes.
  • young people participating
  • technology being used
  • innovative campaigning involving ground activation
  • people standing up for their legal rights
  • a self aware people
Some perturbing ones.
  • people voting more for local rights, federal consequences being less visible
  • a divide beginning to happen …so called educated v less educated
Where this change will lead to, I am not sure. As with any change and an unsure future, one is apprehensive. But change can occur in only three forms:-
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Miracle/disaster
This would be the most unplanned and therefore most change inducing. Miracles seem to have disappeared nowadays, but when they do happen they have far reaching effects. Thousands of years ago Hazrat Musa crossed the Red Sea and Pharaoh was destroyed, but we live the effects of that moment till today. I don’t think we should be awaiting a miracle, as we have been these decades in Pakistan. As far as disaster is concerned, a disaster has occurred several times in our history, like 2010 floods etc. Disasters can be a set back for years, or worse a culmination, thus causing great change. There is an impending feeling of doom in this country and a fear that disaster is approaching.  Disregard it!
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Revolution
Typically revolutions aim for utopia, they wipe out status quo and the new structures are set at utopian levels. Over time learning ensues and the revolution is institutionalized and disappears. Society starts reversing the effects of the revolution and it comes back to a more mid lane process..I don’t think we are ripe for revolution, as our belief platforms are too diverse.
China is a great example of the progressive effects of a revolution. Mao killed freely in the 40s-50s-60s. Later after his departure, in late 70s China opened up and the disciplines and hardships of Mao, led to a surge in the last 30 years.
Iran is a bad example of a revolution. A reversal of revolutionary zeal has led to a totalitarian state and the benefits of revolution have not transpired. Instead a bureaucracy has now replaced the zeal and it controls Iran. Similar events happened in the Soviet Union.
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Evolutionary Change
This has worked best over millenia of human development. Seemingly slow progress, but half a century on, a later generation looks back and says wonderingly, “look how that and that event has caused an evolution which has changed our lives.”
Evolutionary change can trend towards good, but as nations decline it can trend towards bad also. So in Yarmuk, Muslims won a hard fought battle and for the next 500 years dominated, as the way north and west was opened up. But Nero fiddled while Rome burned and while the Roman empire lasted almost 400 further years, but the decline was inexorable after that.
This evolutionary change is what I am talking about above. To all those who are upset at the elections, because there was a great deal of unfairness. “Wheels on wheels have been set in motion. Patience, this will deliver dividends and progression will happen. You watch. Be patient. Inshallah the wheels are in motion, your Pakistan will change.”

THE PRINCE, THE JOKER & THE THIEF

The Prince, The Joker & The Thief

The Joker reminisced to the Thief.

“Back in the eighties when my master, the King, swung his masterful whip over this place, I had a great time. Everyone came to me. They recognized that I could approach the throne. Things went well. I was able to set up connections and have you seen the factories and businesses that exist today. It was hard work and my net worth today is well over a billion dollars. Then it all changed”.

There’s too much confusion, I can’t get no relief;
Businessmen, they drink my wine, plowmen dig my earth;
None of them along the line know what any of it is worth…

“Today businessmen they drink at my table, partake of my paye’ and yet none of them know what any of it is worth. Things are not the same.

I have taken such hits”, complained the Joker to the Thief.

They say that I have hardly paid any taxes. How can I pay taxes, when I do not make enough to sustain myself? There is no King to work with, and to be truthful, I am not good at playing the King. Things go awry. Witness my attempt 15 years ago. They kicked me out and even distributed sweets in my hometown on my departure. Taken years for me to turn it around”.

No reason to get excited, the thief he kindly spoke
There are many here among us who feel that life is but a joke
But you and I, we’ve been through that, and this is not our fate
So let us not talk falsely now, the hour is getting late.

The Thief, he smiled a broad smile, adjusted his spectacle  and spoke kindly to the Joker.

“Now, now! Nothing to be sad about. No reason to get excited. Let’s not talk falsely now. We have done well over 25 years, you and I. You in your own way, I in mine. We have been brought up to grab opportunities and that is our way. And we can live together. My art has been thievery and I do it well. Infact, if I say so myself I am quite a master at it.”

He continued…

“My move was to steal the heart of a Princess. That was a really profitable venture. Ended up yielding billions. Lots of factories, business and palaces. Yes not to forget the palaces and chateau! Things went well and then the Princess started objecting. She had grandiose notions about herself and how she would change things. But then luck played its part once more. I notice it does in my case. The Princess was killed and they were looking for someone to take the role of the Princess, Lady luck smiled and here I am.

Now you and I know this game of opportunities. We can work this together, advised the Thief. We just need to cooperate and be patient. We have enough money and if we take turns, we could be in the driving seat for at least another decade. By then we will have collected our dues and can go off in old age to live somewhere else and retire. You to your paye, me to my indulgences.”

“But what to do about the Prince and barefoot servants?” cried the Joker. “The Prince is dangerous and the barefoot servants are not behaving like their usual self. The Prince has been doing things all his life. He has made us known worldwide. Leading us, he won that great competition, then has set up a hospital and universities and then he was trusted with the floods rehabilitation, while no one trusted us. Even I have to agree that he is honest and sincere. Suppose he gets hold of real power?”

“There are many here among us, who think life is but a joke”, laughed the Thief. “Otherwise who would trust us? But see the barefoot servants are odd. They have some well read people who oppose the Prince. They have a foreign liberal point of view. All their lives they have been educated in a different school and have forgotten what they really are. The rest are uneducated. So we use the liberal ones to break the rest and what ever resistance is left, we use our money to buy it out. Will work like magic. Ten years later when nothing is left, they will wake up too late. We will be gone by then”.

Outside in the distance a wildcat did growl
Two riders were approaching, the wind began to howl.

Unbeknownst to all the characters in the place, outside in the distance, two riders were approaching and the wind began to howl. The riders were at war with status quo, battle dancing on their faces. One was Extreme Religion and the other was Anarchy. They were coming nearer and none of the incumbents were even aware of this approaching calamity.

Inspired by Bob Dylan’s “All Along the Watchtower” written in 1966. Any resemblance to present day situation or characters is absolutely coincidental. There is no such thing as barefoot servants- no one can be that foolish in real life.

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