Paralyzed with fear, she watched them force their way on the bus, carrying guns. They started checking the I.D cards of the men present, in order to determine their identity, thus their race. There were four of them, four monsters and they moved forward to mercilessly kill; just because someone did not belong to their race, just because someone was different. They killed and they left. As the last one was stepping off the bus, she dared to glance at him; his face, like the rest of them, was wrapped in a dirty scarf, revealing only the eyes which reflected one dominant sentiment; hate.
The fictional (yet based on true events) paragraph above only describes one of the many situations in Pakistan where hatred possesses people and makes them commit the most horrendous, most unspeakable of crimes. Discrimination and intolerance are damaging our society just as a cancer destroys a human being. Lack of tolerance can destroy a community, and regrettably all kinds of divisions exist in my society. It is the unfortunate yet undeniable truth that people in this society love to hate.
I wake up listening to reports of people targeted and killed because they are from a different race or ethnic origin; I sleep listening to news bulletins of suicide bombings in schools, shrines and mosques because certain people want to spread what is their idea of Islam. We have a society where those who dare to speak up for what they believe in and against what they do not are killed because there are people present that refuse to accept that others may have differing views.
Why? This one-word question is what I have been asking myself for quite some time now. Why would someone despise the next person for simply not having the same belief? Why would someone believe that only his caste/creed/race deserves to live, while the rest deserve to die? Why would someone think that their being, their existence is most valuable but the next person has no right to live, simply for not being exactly like them? The answer to all these questions is one: intolerance of others, which has stemmed from extreme loathing for all that which is different from us. We fear the unknown, and we will continue to fear them unless we open our minds to education and learn about new things. The masses need to be educated in order to rid themselves of the intolerant and bigoted beliefs, which stems from the fear of the unknown.
We as a nation need to realize that our strength lies in the fact that our country has so many ethnic communities. We need to understand that this variety can make life multidimensional so that we emerge as self-sustaining and a mature community; caring and cooperative where the most common sentiment would be that of love for one another, regardless of one’s race or religion.
The fact is that it is high time we acknowledge these issues and act upon them. We need to step out of our bubble and realize that the world, at least the one we live in, is not rose-colored; there are serious issues in our country that need to be addressed and the initial as well as the paramount step towards attempting at resolving our problems is educating the public.
If our society is literate and our minds have been exposed to education about different things, only then will we be able to view things logically and make rational decisions. What wars, guns and hostility cannot solve, education will. Education about different cultures, about History and Sociology, about Math and Physics, will allow us to comprehend things in a rational manner. Only then will we realize that someone is not beneath us just because they are Shia or Christian, that it’s okay to have people with different faiths, different beliefs in our society, that we can live in harmony with them. Societies which have progressed are those where there is no prejudice on the basis of sex, color, creed or ethnic origin. It’s time for a change, for a revolution. Education about different things will teach us to accept and be tolerant of different things. We need education to liberate minds, to at least give our population a chance at making rational decisions on their own, and we need it now.