The bundle of contradictions


Paradoxes in recent scenarios

The week that passed ended in a series of paradoxes. As a climax to the rising action in the Subcontinent, India messaged Pakistan to work on togetherness; only after nearly going to war. And while a nation went all out in support of the one per cent of its population which has recently remained a victim of terrorism, the world went all out to threaten that very community.

A month earlier, Pakistan and India were at the brink of war. The world watched with baited breath as it advised caution to both countries. But the hostile neighbours played tit for tat as they responded to each move with comparable vigour and venom alike. Pakistan intercepted Indian fighter planes, shot some and got hold of a pilot. The prime minister’s conciliatory gesture of returning the prisoner back respectfully was snubbed by the Indian media, while the pilot himself was hailed as a kind of a hero. And talking of global pressure, media reported that the USA and China played a pivotal role in holding back the two countries.

And suddenly, after ignoring contacts and handshakes at conferences, India greeted Pakistan on a day when it was celebrating a historical milestone, and suggested that “people of sub-continent work together for a democratic, peaceful, progressive and prosperous region, in an atmosphere free of terror and violence”.

With each different viewpoint firmly held by its believer, there is no common ground, no unity in the world today

When India greets Pakistan for the celebration of the very day when its forefathers decided to create a separate homeland, it seemed that it had, finally, accepted that the creation of Pakistan was a necessity. Has India, which until today, mourns the Partition as a tragedy and deplores the division of its ‘motherland’, come to terms with the resolution which celebrated both?

And when India today hopes for working together to create a progressive and prosperous region, has it forgotten that it was an Indian and not a Pakistani initiative to ban cultural exchanges between the two countries? Has it now remorse for the death threats which its citizens gave to those film- makers who employed Pakistani talent, or for one of its star celebrities, giddy with success, suggesting ‘destruction’ of Pakistan? Has India thought about the suffering patients in Pakistan, to whom it refused a visa, even on humanitarian grounds?

And if, by chance, India has considered a path of togetherness, how does it intend to explain yet another paradox emerging on its homeland, when members of a Muslim family were thrashed with “batons, iron rods, hockey sticks and water pipes” by goons on the day of Holi and were asked not to play cricket. They were also told to go to Pakistan.

While the paradoxes in the region are mind boggling, ones in the world are disturbing. In many unprecedented moves, the youngest prime minister of the world lent support to her country’s Muslim population which suffered a gory attack by a white supremacist. Jacinda Arden, the prime minister of New Zealand, not only condoled with the victims but publicly denounced the act of terrorism. She accepted those 1 per cent of her country’s population who are Muslims in every possible way that showed they were truly citizens of New Zealand. She joined the funeral prayers of those killed and so did many others from different communities and beliefs. She narrated a saying of Hazrat Muhammad (PBUH), at the occasion. She covered her head in respect for the Muslim community and so did many other women on that Friday, including news anchors on television. She began one of her speeches in the parliament with Assalamu Alaikum, the customary Muslim greeting in Arabic which literally means ‘peace be upon you’. This was in response to a shootout at mosques in which over 50 Muslims were killed.

And this was in contrast to the response to the incident by WS President Donald Trump, which was tepid, to say the least. He did not condemn the white supremacy extolled by the alleged shooter, nor did he express explicit sympathy with Muslims around the globe.

The Washington Post reported that Trump did not heed the plea of Prime Minister Ardern— whom he spoke with on the phone— to offer his nation’s “sympathy and love for all Muslim communities.” The Post went on to suggest that Trump’s response “has highlighted the president’s fraught and combative relationship with Islam and Muslims, which dates back at least to his campaign.”

It would be no surprise to know, that in Trump’s country, 1,020 hate groups were found across the USA in 2018— an all-time high.

The records were astonishingly high also in the United Kingdom, where the number of anti-Muslim hate crimes were reported to have increased by 593 per cent across Britain in the week after the New Zealand massacre. The news alarmed those who expected extremists to lie low after the widespread condemnation around the world. This was also in contrast to the outpouring of support for the UK’s Muslim community, with the Queen saying she was “deeply saddened” by the shootings, and Prime Minister Theresa May calling it “sickening”.

“Man is an embodied paradox, a bundle of contradictions”, so goes a saying by a wise man. With each different viewpoint firmly held by its believer, there is no common ground, no unity in the world today. It can only be a case of the majority wins or a chance for sanity to prevail that one can hope for a betterment. But as English novelist George Eliot had said: “But human experience is usually paradoxical, that means incongruous with the phrases of current talk or even current philosophy.”

Either there is no current philosophy or man prefers to remain incongruous. The outcome is clear.