Published:  02:46 AM, 07 September 2023

Coexisting and Peaceful Future Beforehand

Coexisting and Peaceful Future Beforehand
To prevent the repetition of something unwanted, actions can betaken after that something happens. Actions can be taken in advance too to prevent that something from happening. With reference to the recent Gulshan attack, the whole society is emphasizing on both the options, not that the society did not emphasize on them earlier. Done after or before, these actions are to uphold the civil values that are nonviolent in nature, so that the future is safer. It is usually taken for granted that the future will be better than the present or past. As such, human beings expect that they will become better only in the future, but that future probably hardly arrives. Because of the future, they also probably forget the moment they are living in. A future, after all, is only a future, not a reality at the moment. Civil values are rather better understood and practiced in the moment. However, there may be some factors that can lead to a coexisting and peaceful future beforehand. To coexist and to be peaceful, one must appreciate other people, who have different attitudes towards the whole of life.

The first learning begins at home. The family can play the vital role in shaping a peaceful future for the individual. The new blood should not be raised with either overt or covert hatred towards people of other religions, nations etc. It is of paramount importance to revere people with differences from the deep of the heart. Repeating 'Only your religion is true' to the ears of the young means the others are "false". This lesson may seem "normal" to many, but this actually leads to a binary between his religion and other religions, where the former becomes "superior" and the latter "inferior". Instead of a dichotomic teaching like that, there must be some tolerant ways, which parents should find out and use when they teach religion to their children. Then, when one grows up, only saying that "I respect others" is not enough; one has to mean it.There is a difference between saying and meaning. Many people say, but don't mean, and this contradiction is responsible for many conflicts. Thus, one has to develop the sense of appreciating others from the inner chamber. Also, one should be taught that someone else can disagree with him regarding any matter and that he should respect the different opinion/s of the opposition. He can surely refute the different opinion/s of the opposition, and this refutation has to be done with respect. Even after the refutation, if the opposition still disagrees with him, he must continue to respect the disagreement. One should always remember that knowledge should be justified by knowledge, not by guns and swords. To note, every human child is Tabula rasa, a white piece of paper, at birth. No one brings in any single of the ideas of the world that she would develop later. Firstly, their families, relatives, religious institutions, society etc. give them ideas about life. Then, based on the first factors, they themselves develop further ideas. But both reflect a chain of command for their ideas. Consequently, their decisions are basically a reflection of the dos and don'ts that they received from the social apparatuses. Therefore, when handing over the baton of life to the next generation, parents should teach them to appreciate diversity. The moment one fails to appreciate diversity, conflicts ensue.

Instead of asking only to study academic books, the young generation should also be equally encouraged to participate in cultural activities and sports. Most parents across the country ask their sons and daughters only to study. Both parents and children thus give the impression that they do not have any time after studies, but this is not the reality. Every human being has some personal time. During that personal time, everyone should find out some ways that help to meaningfully utilize it. If the individual is not allowed and occupied with something both entertaining and instructive, then it is natural for her to be restless. If inner feelings are suppressed, then one starts to hide this or that to the families and fulfills her personal demands silently. As such, the individual also develops a guilty conscience within herself. The society becomes a hypocrite one. At the same time, because of the failure of fulfilling the feelings, sometimes the attention of the individual gets sidetracked, and he even becomes violent. The suppression leads to all the conflicts. Instead, a new attitude towards life may free people from these shackles, where parents need to pay heed to the feelings of their sons and daughters. They can learn guitar, piano, singing, painting, dancing, recite poetry, go to vacation and explore the whole of Bangladesh or beyond with friends, and also fall in love with the persons they like. Instinctual feelings should not be suppressed because that suppression goes against human nature. Many of these activities, unfortunately, are portrayed to the young people as "sins", and that portrayal is basically a fallacy. Parents first need to educate themselves that learning to, for example, dancing or singing is not like throwing bombs, where the former is arts, but the latter destruction. It is the arts that parents may presentand encourage to their sons and daughters.At the same time, young people should be appreciated to play outdoor games, for example, cricket, soccer, swimming, tennis etc. Some may argue that there is a lack of space in the big cities, but there are always some opportunities around the corners. Probably the sports grounds are not close to home, so the individual has to walk a few extra miles. With cultural activities and sports, the young should also read beyond academic texts. In this regard, general history books on human civilization, how did it evolve, what were the earlier generations likeetc. should give them a better understanding of human journey.Also, they may read specific history books on Bengal and Indian subcontinent, the people of this whole geography,the different dynasties throughout history, the development of religions etc. A sense of the total past of the universe, the existence in the moment, and expectations of the future should complement each other. All these activities will give young people a meaningful experience of growing up and complement their studies, and also their understanding of the universe will be enriched and full of diversity. These activities are also full of fun, unlike studying academic texts only, which is mostly monotonous.

No one factor or combination of many factors can thwart violence unless human beings become able to imagine themselves in the shoes of others. Those who conduct violence, they shut their imagination. It is important to feel what it is like to be someone else. What it is like to be someone else, as Ian McEwan, British novelist, believes, 'is the basis of all sympathy, empathy and compassion. Other people are as alive as you are. Cruelty is a failure of imagination'. Among the Gulshan attackers' crimes was a failure of imagination; they failed to imagine themselves in the lives of others. They, sadly, thought their way of living is the only way, so they failed to accept the other different ways. Thus, parents should help their children unlock the laboratory of imagination.

People these days talk about the Gulshan attackers as "brainwashed"! There may be some truth in it, but with this statement they also probably deny the guilt of the individual, as if he did not have any. Yes, someone can be "brainwashed" if parents are not turning on the brain or imagination of their children with liberal teaching at home, go-ahead of cultural, and sports activities. Unlocking the power of imagination can make human beings larger than their lives.

True that there are responsibilities from other social institutions, including, schools, religious institutions, political parties, media etc. But, first and foremost, the individual should be in charge for her actions. Therefore, charity should begin at home.

Human beings keep reaching their next stages of potential and developing because of the heterogeneity among them. Living with a group of homogeneity people is linear, non-exploring, and also racist. On the contrary, accepting people from other religions, nations etc. is full of diversity, creativity, and subjectivity. Heterogeneity, thus, is a precondition for the progress of civilization. Human beings may not forget that dissension is the mother of invention. They create new things everyday because they disagree to the previous and also existing ideas. Had they not disagreed, there wouldn't be anything new. All these and many others should be humanely taught at home with the help of family, cultural activities, sports, history books, imagination etc. These unceasing practices may probably ensure a coexisting and peaceful future beforehand.

The writer is a Lecturer at the Department of English and Modern Languages of North South University

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