Change the system from within; if you try to collide with the system head on, then the ultimate result will be the destruction of society. This is the belief which I was earlier entertaining in my mind. But then I met with a young scholar, who is a linguistic anthropologist. His name is Mr. Ibrahim Khan and he totally changed my belief. I’m going to present our discussion about the definition and nature of destruction and construction. Hope it will change the perspective of others as well.
How to change the system, as the current system is nothing but a vehicle which runs over the weak segment of our society, Ibrahim asked.
Well Ibrahim! I’m glad to hear that you have the zeal to change the system. I totally agree with your analysis about the system that it has become the instrument of exploitation. Poor are exploited in the name of divine distribution of wealth; ethnic communities don’t have the required space in the domain of policy making on the pretext that it will threaten the very existence of the federation; young minds are being polluted in the name of education so that they become fit to be lorded over; nonetheless jingoism is being propagated through the media for the narratives of the state. Therefore, the system must be changed and for that we have to enter the system and try to change it from within. I replied with a usual smile and I was pretty much confident about my response.
Ibrahim looked at me for a while and then asked me how to enter the system?
I replied get a job in the government sector and you will be able to bring the desired change.
He looked at me with his usual seriousness and mysterious calmness and asked which government department should I join?
Be a bureaucrat or a teacher, I said.
Basically you are telling me to be a part of the system, he said. But it will not serve the purpose because if I become a teacher, I have to teach the youth the same rotten syllabus which inbred in students passive obedience to authority and kill the very notion of curiosity. And if I don’t teach them the syllabus, then my students will fail in exams and I will be soon sacked from the college or university. Similarly, if I become a bureaucrat, then I have to abide by the rules. I will be no more than a clerk, moving files from one desk to another in a hierarchy. Furthermore, the system will not change; rather I have to perpetuate the system whether willingly or unwillingly.
So what do you propose, I inquired.
We have to change the entire system, he said. First of all look at the judicial system, it is an utter failure. The common folks have zero per cent trust in the judicial system of Pakistan. Therefore, the parallel judicial system (Jirga in Pushtuns and Panchayats in the other parts of the country) is working side by side with the mainstream judicial system. The reason is that it is delivering and people have trust on it. Furthermore, the political system in which the wealthy lot from one ethnic community is determining the fate of the other ethnic communities through denying them their due rights. I belong to an ethnic community; if I get elected then I would not be able to bring forth an iota of change through legislation. I will not go in to the detail of reformation of the judicial system, nonetheless it is just to show you that if you become a lawyer or judge then what change will you expect to bring. In a nutshell, if we want to change the system then we have to radically bring change.
Don’t you think that it will unleashed upon the society a hell new destruction, I said.
What is destruction, he asked.
What you mean, I retorted.
OK! Let me rephrased the question. What is construction, he said.
When something useful is created or made, I responded.
Fair enough! Can you make things without the aid and support of other things, he asked.
No. I have to use the existing things to make a new thing, I replied.
It means that you have to break down some things to create the new ones, he asked.
I didn’t understand what you are trying to convey, I complained.
Let me illustrate the point, he said. To make a table, you have to cut trees. For the extraction of hydrocarbons or other minerals, the land or mountains must be drilled. Moreover, a human has to come through piercing the body of another human. Now tell me Noman, what will be your definitions of construction and destruction?
My face turned pale and in a shaking voice I replied, I think construction comes through destruction. In other words construction is not possible without destruction and destruction is a first step toward construction.
From our dialogue, I have learnt two things. First, we are too afraid to accept the counter opinions, because our existing beliefs tally to our egos, therefore, it is very hard to renounce. But if we accept the counter opinions then it might shatter our egos, nevertheless, new ideas will be constructed. Second, destruction is the course of development, if we open our minds to it.
By Noman Wazir
The writer is a socio-political analyst from FATA. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org