By Matthew Islam (for Dhaka Tribune’s Op-Ed section as printed May 7th, 2013 and alternatively online by clicking the following DhakaTribune.com)
There is a very contemporaneous quote by Roy Barnes that is worth considering today: “We are all one or at least we should be — and it is our job, our duty, and our great challenge to fight the voices of division and seek the salve of reconciliation.”
Division is the poison that destroys nations. It has done so in the past and it continues to do so now. This is common knowledge to most.
Yet, we all participate in divisiveness quite actively. Why? How much more blood need be spilled before we understand the destructive nature of the beast whose belly we now live in?
I have educated friends from all spheres, my twitter friends and those on facebook — who have chosen sides in the politics we see unfolding in front of us today and I find it flabbergasting that they do not recognise a simple fact that no one is without blame and our system is totally broken; that if you choose sides, you are doing a disservice to your nation, fellow countrymen, your moral standards, and intelligence, and selling yourself short.
You are acquiescing to unknown people with unknown agendas, to parties and movements that truly deep down you do not and cannot, by standards of decency, support.
Awami League, BNP, Jatiyo Party, Jamaat etc, who really has ever fought for the betterment of this country lately? Ask yourself that. You look at the recent history of this nation and its clear, they have only ever fought and shown leadership for their own survival and all their means are directed to that end. How much more blatant do their activities, misrepresentations and buffoonery have to be for you to say: “You know what, my support of this system is insulting to me.”
The prime minister extends an olive branch, the country appreciates the effort, and then we end up with an ultimatum. All this has happened before and will surely continue into the future. They cannot bring themselves to sit on a table together to improve their own working environment because of inflated egos and score settling, and you expect them to fight for you?
Therefore unless you have an intention to launch a party of your own and gather like-minded good people, and have the strength and fortitude, both monetarily and organisationally, to push through reforms, I suggest you go about your daily lives ignoring politics altogether.
Forgive me for being a naysayer, but you can only be actively helpful to your country when you first shut off from contributing to the ongoing poisonous rhetoric and admit that the system is rigged and broken. I am saving you the pain and recurrent disappointment.
I implore you, the least you can do to help this sham of a democracy, lest it get worse, is to not participate.
Yes, in an age when everyone encourages one to participate, I am advocating that you do not participate. I am asking you to be a cynic, a skeptic. I am asking you to seek answers. I am asking you to value your democratic right. Don’t vote either.
I ask this because your voice is being misconstrued to mean that you support those active in politics today. You are fueling their power. Well, I am fed up with that. No one represents me in our politics and they do not represent you, either. When someone tells you otherwise, ridicule them. Tell them your support is valuable. That your voice is not on sale and you have little wish to sell out cheaply.
The killing, arson, looting, political bickering, lies, insensitivity, cruelty, fights and protests will as usual continue to be a part of our lives but at least it will not have your support and your conscience will be clear.
So I am asking you to pick a side and the side I am asking you to pick is your own and if you have any hope left, then in earnest, back your country. Only when you pick that side and admit to yourself we have a problem, can you truly begin to fight the division that poisons Bangladesh.
Matthew Islam is a Barrister-at-Law and CEO, Profusion Textiles.