I and I

Egoism is ultimately destructive

The mighty tyrant said, “I am god, I give life and cause death.” He let a condemned man go free and ordered the killing of an innocent person. The Prophet (Hazrat Ibrahim AS) insisted: “God makes the sun rise from the East and set in the West.” Whenever he was cornered, the tyrant invented his logic. He was Nimrod. He reveled in his blissful ignorance.

God’s traditions do not change. He always gives enough leeway to the arrogant to realize his humble seed and stop acting like God. He gave enough time to Pharaoh. Then the king and God ‘the best of the Planners’ also planned. Pharaoh was humbled, compelled to swallow his pride, and made to confess that he believed in Moses and Aaron’s God. No, it was too late then. He was drowned along with his powerful Army while the Prophet (AS) was safely ashore. The lesson learned is to repent before it is too late.

God has His ways to drive a lesson home to His creation. A man’s one step, according to Mukhtar Masood, could catapult him to the height of spiritual glory and a step in the wrong direction toss him into the abyss of darkness and disgrace.

Sometimes a dark horse is raised to the most coveted spot of power and status. It makes a person of good breeding sombre, thinking, and humble. He commands respect and is loved sometimes more than a much more capable predecessor. Raheel Sharif could be cited as an example. Another person with an inadequate background could go berserk. A future historian of Pakistan would find no dearth of examples of the latter kind.

And then there are our masters abroad. We know that they have used us in the past only as Kleenex. They have forsaken their best friends when the friends needed them the most. Shah of Iran, Ayub Khan, Bhutto, Zia, and then ‘your most obedient servant’, Pervaiz Musharraf. Our souls are always on auction. Either we lack a sense of history and the wisdom to learn from it or we are completely shorn of self-respect and honour. We must determine the legacy we want to leave for the coming generations. Will they feel proud of us, laugh at us, pity or hate us? This is now or never

Z A Bhutto had once thumped his chair as the source of ultimate power. No one in power would cherish his end. Pervaiz Musharraf had boasted about the end of the role of the PPP and PML(N) in the politics of Pakistan. He had to eat his words and accommodate the PPP as a power-sharing ally as his masters ordered. It was a comedown that Musharraf would have found extremely difficult to stomach. His exit from power turned out to be the most disgraceful exit of all. Worse still, executing a death sentence on him after he had died amounts to digging his grave to hang his carcass as done in the mediaeval ages.

The first casualty of arrogance is wisdom. The mind lives on the pastures of humility. It cannot share any space with conceit. The second victim of condescension is respect. Haughtiness enhances fear and dissipates respect. It gradually breeds disgust, hostility, and aggressiveness. When the options become limited, revolt takes root. It all depends on the level of oppression as to every action there are equal and opposite reactions.

Snobbery alienates friends and hardens enemies. It discourages sincere advice and promotes flattery. It triggers irrational and sometimes insane reactions to disagreement and discord. It lowers the guard against sin and exploitation.

The spiritual considers ‘I’ as the ugliest of human demeanors. It is the first and most formidable hurdle in the spiritual journey. The foremost act of Shams Tabriz was to remove the knot of Rumi’s ego and unearth the spiritual wealth that was destined to enrich the human mystical experience. Without the Divine mix, Rumi would have perhaps gone down in history as one of the religious scholars of so many before and after him. The world would not have known the giant that he was. There is no place for ego in a purified human soul.

The ego combined with power is a deadly combination. In Pakistan, its manifestations are a common experience. From the petty police officer to the chief executive the powerful are ruthless, evil, callous, and inhuman. They have zero tolerance for disagreement. Criticism can invite murder, disappearance, and incarceration. To quote Ahmed Faraz, “Men have become gods in your city”. They make plans and are cock sure of their success. They do not learn anything from history.

One naïve bloke believes that frustrated people have no options. It is not 1971 and East Pakistan. He by implication denies peoples’ right to protest or question authority. Not for a moment did he think that he was hurling sheer insults at the 250 million people of Pakistan. The poor knave has no idea of the power of dialogue, reconciliation, and tolerance. He sees only the sword in the hands of Goliath while he is blind to the stone in the hands of David.

In a routine environment, such a careless utterance could go unnoticed, in a tense atmosphere and political discontent it could cut deep somewhere, completely unnecessarily. In 1971, 50 million stood up for their rights and snatched them by force. Today, there are 250 million to contend with. There is no need for loose talk.

One graceful judge very wisely opines that had there been freedom of expression in Pakistan, the country would have never been bifurcated or a sitting prime minister hanged. The other is drunk with power or overwhelmed with fear and insists that it is either his way or the highway. And then through a pure Faustian understanding the orders not to criticize a judge are issued to save his back from coming under severe flak.

And then there are our masters abroad. We know that they have used us in the past only as Kleenex. They have forsaken their best friends when the friends needed them the most. Shah of Iran, Ayub Khan, Bhutto, Zia, and then ‘your most obedient servant’, Pervaiz Musharraf. Our souls are always on auction. Either we lack a sense of history and the wisdom to learn from it or we are completely shorn of self-respect and honour. We must determine the legacy we want to leave for the coming generations. Will they feel proud of us, laugh at us, pity or hate us? This is now or never.

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