Remembering the Forgotten Pledge
Aasha Mehreen Amin
Photo: Zahedul i khan
One of the biggest failures of humankind is that despite having been given the most exalted place in the hierarchy of living beings, with the amazing capacity to reason, to feel emotion, to know what is morally wrong, is allowing something as reprehensible as ethnic cleansing to go on unabated at various points in time. Genocides have occurred (and are still occurring) on practically every piece of land inhabited by humans and each time the mass murder, rapes and torture have been motivated by illogical hatred for the other people's skin colour, ethnicity or religion. But it is also instigated by greed for the material, even if it is at the cost of human lives. After thirty-nine years the wounds of the war have still not completely healed as it is hard to swallow the pain of knowledge of genocide that took away so many of our people and scarred others for life. Beyond this excruciating past, however, there are many lessons to learn from the most momentous chapter of our nation's history.
What for instance was going on in the mind of that young boy who didn't think twice about leaving the comfort of his home and family to run to unknown places, to join other men, women and boys to take up arms he had never held before against a formidable enemy? What could possibly allow a mother to allow her child to go to fight the enemy, knowing that he may never come back? What made people from every walk of life, whether a poor farmer or a middle-class-college going young man or woman to join hands as one, to forget class distinctions and help each other like brothers and sisters? It was patriotism in the real sense; something that is very difficult to comprehend when one takes one's citizenship for granted. It was also a deep love for one's fellow countrymen that transcended personal interest and shunned material greed.
Over the last thirty-nine years we the citizens of this precious land have witnessed how greed for power and wealth have annihilated those heavenly sentiments that brought a nation together to fight injustice and discrimination. We have seen a newly independent nation being shredded to bits by dictatorships, leaders elected or otherwise being brutally assassinated, politicians blatantly using their power and influence to take what is not theirs and us ordinary citizens following suit. The helpless, vulnerable and poor continue to be exploited by the rich and powerful. It is no longer a foreign oppressor that we can blame but each other. It is the survival of the most influential in terms of power and wealth. It is victory of materialism over altruism.
We have gained much in terms of development and we have many noble, gifted souls who have acquired for us international recognition and put our once obscure nation, on the map. But for the most of us, we enjoy our independence, being citizens of a sovereign nation, yet we have forgotten the pledges and dreams of those who gave up their lives for this privilege. We no longer remember how to reach out to those who need our help. We don't do things for anyone without expecting something in return. We cannot give up our greed for more money, more land, more material things, more power. We are overtly religious but not necessarily spiritual.
We don't need racism and bigotry of a foreign enemy to unite us against injustice. We don't have to worry about losing our loved ones or our own lives. We already have our independence, our freedom and the knowledge of the valour, honesty and unconditional patriotism of those men, women and children who gave up their lives or survived unbelievable torture to save their motherland and their people from ethnic cleansing. March 26 is here again to make us remember what we keep forgetting.
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