Our debased, degraded souls | Pakistan Today

Our debased, degraded souls

  • Once denied warmth, love and filled to brim with greed and malice, the best in us rots

Man is the measure of all things, believed an ancient sage. An individual with all his talents and tantrums, with his love of few and hatred of many, with his mortal lies and terminal passion is, once taken in totality, a frail, fragile creature. There are millions and millions of things that can, and eventually do, go wrong that end his brief life. Yet while alive his march continues onward. From playing the role of a brave hunter, humble gatherer, patient farmer to modern day ace banker, technological mastermind, the individual has moulded himself in countless guises to fulfill his basic needs of food, shelter and protection.

And once assured of them, he craves for meaning, he aspires to create verses and monuments that outlast him. He aims for recognition and permanence in a perpetually changing universe.

And here enters religion, arts, dogma, culture, literature, ritual and other avenues of self-expression and solace. Religion offered satisfaction and refuge in a world where everything was perennially hazy. Arts provided an outlet for expressing hopes and dilemmas of what it means to be human. Dogma united people against earthly foes while invoking celestial support. Culture was handed over from one generation to the other as a sacred trust. Literature chronicled the goings-on in the world within and without. Ritual ensured that the collective will triumphed over individual idiosyncrasies.

Till the dawn of modern day capitalism, there were commodities one acquired and experiences one earned. And then the ‘buy/sell’ mantra of capitalism held sway for better part of 20th century. Our souls were bruised by mindlessly acquiring things and stuff. Now our souls have been bastardised beyond redemption as the rat race of materialism has put a price tag on every thought, every feeling, every elation, every passion.

Our politicians are nothing if not good actors, our judges lose ratings and sleep if they don’t make it to headlines the next morning, our popes and Maulanas are remembered for memes and caricatures

Everything, dear reader, has become ‘sellable’. Be it praise or dissent, patriotism or misanthropy, affection or hatred, propaganda or truth all has become commodities to be bought and sold for a profit of one and the acquisition of other.

In our age the axiom ‘If you’re born poor it is not your mistake, but if you die poor it is your mistake’ rules the hearts and minds of many. The only gauge of success is numbers, figures, zeroes that precede one’s net worth. Welcome to the best of times.

While the race to become rich continues we, the epitome of creation are distracted, pacified and kept in an impotent turmoil as we hear and enjoy the boisterous bits on our screens by laughing out loudly and then jumping to the next hilarity and since there is no dearth of them we keep on consuming them mindlessly. The comedian, the clown and the witty lad make us laugh by abusing, ridiculing and mocking the other actor, audience or celebrities, politicians and other famous folks without even realising that our laughter has lost both delight or depth.

We hoot when we see someone being made fun of his missing leg, we howl when we hear the fictitious tale of elopement being attributed to someone’s sister, we savour the nasty innuendos, covertly-sexual insinuations and allusions that disparage another human being. We revel every time someone falls, every calamity that has befallen someone else is an opportunity to giggle at as it didn’t choose us to be its victim. Our glee, it seems, lies in all things abusive, shallow and horrid.

Our screens, dear folks, have become pacifiers for those who find life nothing but a bundle of never-ending boredom. The monotony of existence, we religiously believe, can be best endured when one is either laughing his lungs out, shopping his ATM out or dining his wits out. Two hurrahs for our world that wants us to spend what we’ve earned and parade it in front of folks who can’t and feel all haughty and super ‘classy’ about ourselves.

Till better, more sagacious angels of our nature come to the fore and rescue us from a world so dystopian that even the likes of George Orwell and Aldous Huxley would be thunderstruck and gawk around. Let us allow them ‘funny people’ to bastardise our souls, one joke, one giggle, one laugh at a time.

And, guess what, it is not only restricted to the clown and jester. Our politicians are nothing if not good actors, our judges lose ratings and sleep if they don’t make it to headlines the next morning, our popes and Maulanas are remembered for memes and caricatures they inspire as a result of colorful shenanigans, our intellectuals and thinkers are available at the disposal of highest bidder, and our love birds mistake carnal passion for love of highest order and purest breed.

You and I, dear reader, have our souls to save. We have a task at hand, to save our bastardised souls from the claws of wanton greed and witless indifference.



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