By Naeem Tahir
Why must we, as a nation, continue to dispense depression, dissatisfaction, and even hate for ourselves. We compare ourselves with the worst of our enemies and ‘admire’ them. This negativity has brought the nation to the level of ‘zero’ self-respect
From where has this mindset been inherited? Newspapers and media rush to collect the bad news and the worst of these hit the headlines. In the breaking news you mostly see a terrorist attack, a targeted killing, a bomb blast, murder, rape, and so on. Do you ever see a ‘breaking news’ saying, “Bumper crop this year of...” mango, or orange or something else, or “A doctor has saved a life in an amazing fight over x number of days,” or “Economic situation seems to have stabilised...” or something, which is ‘good’. It is obvious, very obvious, in our situation, but it is not limited to us alone. An international, ‘prestigious’ publishing house sends out weekly summaries. Here is a cursory look at its selections:
“Greece was again hit by strikes, protests and rioting, as parliament voted in favour of a crucial new round of austerity measures and economic reforms.”
“In Britain public-sector workers ranging from teachers to court officials to immigration officers went on strike against the government’s proposed changes to their pensions.”
“More than 1,000 people were injured in clashes in Cairo’s Tahrir Square between police and people protesting against the slow pace of reform.”
“Nigeria’s government imposed a curfew on Abuja, the capital, after a series of attacks by Boko Haram, an Islamist sect. On June 26th, 25 people were killed when a beer-garden was bombed in the city of Maiduguri in the state of Borno; another ten people died in another attack in the city on the same day.”
You can find as many as you like because in all national and international ‘sources’, one finds plenty of such ‘shockers’. You get more locally because we have more bad news to offer. But all this does not mean that the good news does not exist. Did Ansar Burney not make a successful effort of rescue? Has peace not been restored in Swat and South Waziristan?
The bad news takes precedence because the ‘communicator’, wherever he/she is, wants to shock you, like a spoilt child who cries and shrieks for attention. Mostly, the media czars shock you because they want your attention. That ensures sales and improves their financial well-being. It adds more palaces, land cruisers, flats, country houses to their inventory, and above all, improves their clout and power to blackmail.
What about the sense of social responsibility? This is the kind of response expected: “What? What did you say? Let us look it up in the dictionary. Oh! No such word in my dictionary please!”
This is the kind of reaction expected and perhaps I must replace my ‘old’ dictionary! Some people say it is in the British tradition of journalism. I do not know, maybe it is, but why do we not pause and think? Why must we, as a nation, continue to dispense depression, dissatisfaction, and even hate for ourselves. We compare ourselves with the worst of our enemies and ‘admire’ them. This negativity has brought the nation to the level of ‘zero’ self-respect. We hate ourselves and promote hate against each other. Because we have been told that everything is bad. For over 50 years I have heard “this country will break” or “the country is in danger”. Consequently, all political exploiters come out saying that they will save the country. The other line is “Islam is in danger”. Hence ‘religious politics’ creates room for itself. There is a competition going on to create insecurity, fear and shock.
Do we realise that this country has shown a great deal of resilience, in spite of all this propaganda? The worst incident to be quoted is the separation of East Pakistan and the making of Bangladesh. So? It still is a friendly entity. It is happy managing its affairs and doing well in many ways. Should we not be happy at their welfare? Think positively please. They took a mature decision and separated ‘religion’ from the ‘state’ and progressed as a nation state. This is no disaster.
I agree that improvement can be done in a million directions, but if we keep on promoting distrust, insecurity and cynicism, then we will make it hard for those who sincerely want to achieve good results. It is this sense of insecurity that breeds corruption and causes the flight of capital. More significantly, it is this sense of insecurity, which causes the drain of valuable brains and skills.
The media and the public, all of us, must stop the constant ‘bad mouthing’ of the country we live in. This is the country you miss if you leave it, and it is nostalgia that makes you long to come back from abroad. I am not advocating that there should be no criticism. Nor am I advocating hierocracy. What I am advocating is objective realism and rejection of negativity. Cut off the negative propaganda channels; as long as you watch them they get higher ‘ratings’ and consider their approach justified. Hate will thus keep on breeding hate. We must clearly understand that the media Czars take decisions on ‘ratings’. I would not be surprised if the ‘ratings’ are fudged. It is an effective tool to create discontent. Our enemies can use it. Any secret agency can do whatever it can to create discontent in a nation it targets. Notice what is happening in so many countries, particularly the Muslim countries.
So watch out and do not get carried away.
The writer is a culture and media management specialist, a researcher, author, director and actor
Source: The Daily Times, Lahore