the Prophet Moses led his people out of slavery in Egypt,
he asked all of them to prepare for the Promised Land. As
the entourage of Moses headed for the Promised Land, there
was a river to cross. The people, children of Israelites,
asked him to make way for them to cross the river. He asked
for his Lord's help. The Lord commanded him to use his stick
and strike on the water. He did it. Miraculously, a road emerged
in the middle. The people crossed the river. Then, there was
no food for them. The people asked him to provide that. He
sought his Lord's help. Food was sent. Then, water. At one
point, Moses got really tired of so many demands from his
when the people arrived just near the Promised Land the soldiers
of some rulers obstructed them. History says two brothers
were ruling the place at the time. Moses asked his people
to fight their way through. The people refused. They asked
him to pray to his Lord to destroy the rulers and their warriors.
Moses refused. A standstill. Moses then asked them to camp
nearby. The desert land was barren. He prayed to his Lord
to turn the barren desert into a green pasture. The desert
became cultivable land providing sustenance to the followers
of Israelites stayed in camps. They blamed Moses and his Lord
for abandoning them in the desert. Meanwhile, Moses died.
He did not lead his people into the Promised Land.
An 18th century Jewish scholar, Jacob Ariel, said that these
people were slaves for many centuries. When Moses led them
out of slavery, they became physically free. But, their servile
attitude still continued. They still possessed a subjugated
frame of mind. Moses wanted to make them free from all servility.
generation of slaves withered and new generations of free
people arose, the situation had changed. These free people
grew up in camps. They realised why their fathers had to camp
in the desert. They organised themselves. They trained hard.
They collectively declared a battle against the rulers and
their warriors. A leader was selected to lead the battle.
After a long and hard war, they won. The camp generation ultimately
conquered the Land that their fathers were promised.
Ariel said that this happened because the camp generation
was free. They were not slaves. No bondage with slavery. Hence,
they were mentally strong. They wanted to change their status
quo. And, they did that collectively.
things were not so complicated in those days. The way of fighting
a battle was different.
teaches us a lot. But the important lesson is: Change must
come from within oneself. Nobody can change me unless I change
does not change a community unless they change themselves."
(Al-Quran, chapter 13, verse 11)
context of this country, every one of us claims that the other
is at fault. The other person needs to change, not me. Every
single day, we blame someone else for this or that. We blame
rickshawpullers for traffic jams. We blame car drivers for
skidding and honking. We blame City Corporation for not cleaning
up the garbage. Drivers blame traffic sergeants for demanding
bribes. The sergeants blame drivers for carrying fake driving
licences and reckless driving.
students for vandalism. We blame teachers for being insincere
in their profession. We blame every other trader for hoarding.
We blame shop owners for swindling. We blame vendors and peddlers
for cheating while weighing. We blame politicians for the
deplorable state of our country. We blame cricketers for their
dismal performance. We blame every other person in the neighbourhood.
We are entrapped in an infinite vicious cycle of blame and
never blame ourselves. There are many things that we ourselves
can do. We hate it when our neighbour throws garbage on the
street. Yet, we never care about where our own garbage is
our attitude! When our drivers hoot incessantly while we're
just sitting behind them, we never raise eyebrows. If someone
else does it, we immediately accuse him of being insensitive.
When we break traffic rules it's fine. But when a rickshawpuller
does it, it is offensive and punishable. When someone else's
son behaves disrespectfully, it is a result of poor upbringing.
When my son does it, it is a pleasant display of an assertive
in attitude is sine qua non. I change my attitude. So do you.
A collective change can bring collective prosperity. We can
all become an agent of collective change. Until this happens,
this country will continue to suffer. The poor will remain
impoverished. The economy will remain sluggish. Politics will
to decide what we want. Wasting time in constant bickering
or showing tolerance to one another? Sermonizing or demonstrating
practically what we preach. Blaming others or improving our
own conduct? Wrangling over politics or thriving over economic
success? Castigating whatever the other person does or appreciating
good work? Recrimination or reconciliation? Backbiting or
discharging our responsibility.
hand languishes without a free mind. Likewise, a free country
suffers without a positive conscience. A conscience that is
collective in nature and proactive in practice.
(R) thedailystar.net 2005