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December 16th- Our Victory Day

“Patriotism is dead in this country", one of my exasperated friends declared the other day. I must confess that although I do not agree with my friend completely, I can understand where the sentiment is coming from. After all, it is difficult to be overly patriotic about a country which is engulfed in corruption and crime.

16th December is Bangladesh's Victory Day. On this day our nation was born after nine long months of war. It would be difficult to find a Bangladeshi who does not know the historic importance of this day. We have all read about it in school. We have heard numerous stories from those who actually experienced the war. There is no lack of information about our war of independence. But what does 'patriotism' actually mean to us? Most of us never even think about such issues. Freedom is something that we take for granted. At an age, when we are busy with schoolwork and friends, it is quite natural for most of us to give little thought to things such as "freedom" and "independence". Most teenagers would readily admit that they are not really too concerned with patriotism. But can you really blame us?

Patriotism is not simply about loving one's country. It also means taking pride in being a citizen of your country. There is no doubt about the fact that we all love our country, but at times it is very difficult to be patriotic. It is not always easy to find the silver lining when you are surrounded by corruption and lawlessness. Perhaps, the one thing that could have inspired a sense of patriotism amongst the teenagers in Bangladesh was cricket. After our national team earned test status, the entire nation rejoiced. However, the miserable failures of the team in recent times have let us down. Hardly anyone ever goes to watch the cricket matches these days. Every morning, when I open the newspaper, hoping to see some good news about Bangladesh, I can only find stories about shootings, suicides and murders. It is really sad that we Bangladeshis have so little to rejoice about. Yet, it would be unfair to say that the children in Bangladesh are not proud of their motherland. Walk into any school, early in the morning, and listen to the youngsters singing our national anthem. You are likely to leave with slightly moist eyes!

Patriotism is certainly not dead in Bangladesh. But it would be fair to say that it is not always on the minds of most Bangladeshi teenagers. While it would be unfair to call us 'unpatriotic', it is true that most of us are not really too concerned about loving our country and serving it to the best of our abilities. December 16th is a joyous day for every Bangladeshi. It is a day for us to hold our heads high and declare that we are proud to be Bangladeshis.

By Ayesha S. Mahmud
This writer is an RS Award nominee. To vote for her mail to theconnection123@hotmail.com

Prejudice and living with it

I’ve always had this problem, where I judge people before I've gotten to know them. The thing is, I know a whole lot of other people who have had exactly the same problem, and chances are you've heard of them too. Hitler, for one; the Klu Klux clan, and every single person behind the apartheid movement. Or the kids in school who pick on the little fellow with the braces and the big glasses cause he's just not cool.

Chances are you've heard of this particular problem. It's called prejudice.

People are said to be prejudiced when they've got an unreasonable dislike for somebody or something without even being aware of the complete circumstances regarding that somebody or something. Discrimination is when that dislike comes into play and affects the actions of the said person; the results are the worst things we've ever known, except sadistic psychotic murderers (for details refer upwards).

How does prejudice come about? Well, there are several factors known to lead to it. There's the upbringing of a person and his/her social mindset which affects the way that person perceives others, trying to fit everyone he/she can into a general group and treat them accordingly. This happens when someone fits people into stereotypes; without trying to understand the individual. People who make dumb blond jokes promote an image of these stereotypes; anyone who goes on and on about how all blondes he's ever met were dumb has serious issues, and should probably be referred to the makers of Legally Blonde in addition to a very patient therapist.

Specialists talk about how prejudice finds its roots in how people compete with others, or how they have to find someone to blame for everything and hence decide on making a scapegoat out of a particular group/person without any real reason. There's also how one's society manages to subliminally (or sometimes much more clearly) make that person resent people because within that society, resenting people is the norm. (This is why people get beat up after soccer matches, because they happen to support a team, which the majority feels not-too-happy about).

Fortunately, we teens as a rule don't suffer from the other and worst kind of prejudice that there is out there. This particular form goes on about how the world's fine just as it is, so if people are worse off there's got to be some reason for it, and heck, we don't need to know what (examples: There aren't too many black people in law-school, therefore black people don't deserve to go to law-school). Even though high-school kids and teens in our country are often influenced by prejudice, it's usually not something as utterly irrational as that.

Nevertheless, prejudice is a serious issue even for us. It's the reason why so many kids in school have a hard time trying to "fit in" while they're consistently teased and made fun of. This cousin of mine had a particularly hard time because children in his school used to tease him about how fat he was (he was a bit portly, but nothing you could make fun of, and you can't really make fun of someone just cause he's fat anyway).

How do we deal with this? There are several things which should be done while going about it. For one, there's desegregation: if you're prejudiced, you'll have to overcome that and get along with the people you oh-so-reasonably can't tolerate. In other words, you'll have to spend time with the victims of your prejudice, thereby breaking the barriers and learning to be just that, much less stubborn and blind about that group of people. There's this one girl in high school who I used to tease because she used to stammer, and I so wish that I hadn't, because she's the most important thing in the world to me today. Of course, my prejudice back then (because I thought I was a high-and-mighty speaker) haunts me every instant today.

We've also got to learn to trust and depend on the groups of people that prejudice exists against. Trust is the first step towards friendship, and you can't very well be putting down someone you're friend's with, can you? There's also a reversal on prejudice: by making non-prejudice the "in" thing to be, people can work against it. And if people learn to deal with their insecurities they won't need scapegoats thereby eliminating yet another cause of the same.

It's the 21st century, and a bit late for us to have to be learning to be open-minded, but it's better late than never, isn't it?

By Lancer
This writer is an RS Award nominee. To vote for him mail to theconnection123@hotmail.com

BD Bytes

Victory Day special

Today is the Victory Day. Do you have any special plans to celebrate this day? If not then BD Bytes can help you make some plans. Today we are going to give you a glimpse of some places which are worth visiting on Victory Day.

The National Martyrs' Memorial or Smriti Shoudha is the best place to visit on this day. The Shoudha is nestled in the midst of beautiful gardens and lakes in Savar. It is a good place for hanging out if you like the long drive. You can also enjoy snacks at the Parjatan Motel after the drive. It is about thirty five kilometer north-west of Dhaka.

The Smriti Shoudho is the emblem of the valour and sacrifice of the martyrs who did the supreme sacrifice for their motherland. But do you know how the Shoudho was built and who was the architect? Not long after the Independence the people of this country felt the need to have a national symbol to represent the sacrifice of the martyrs. So in 1972 the Public Works Department of the Government acquired the land to begin the project. In the June of 1978 a national competition was arranged on behalf of the Government to find out the best design for this voluminous project. 57 designers took part in the fray to test their mettles and to do something memorable for the country. Architect Syed Moinul Hossain's design proposal topped the competition. The Shoudho is a geometric monument with seven isosceles triangular planes. Each of them has different height and base. The highest one is 150 feet high. The seven isosceles represent the seven steps of the Liberation Movement.

The Memorial for the Martyred Intellectuals is another place you can visit in this month of victory. It is situated in the brickfield at Rayer Bazaar. This monument was built to pay respect to those intellectual who were martyred by the infamous Pak Army and the quislings in the eve of the Independence. The martyred intellectuals were slashed and buried at that place. The martyrs consisted of educationists, physicians, journalists, writers, directors and other professionals who could bring fame to this country if not martyred. In 1993 the Government of Bangladesh took the decision to build the monument. The Ministry of Public Works and the Institute of Architects arranged a competition on the national level for the best design. The design by Architect Fariduddin Ahmed and Architect Jami-al-Shafi won the fray among 22 designs. The Ministry of Public Works took the responsibility to do the job. The project was done from 1996 to 1999. The monument is a broken wall which symbolizes the somber mood of the place. It has a window through which you can see the sky. All the trees save the banyan tree shed their leaves in December which gives the place a melancholy look in this month.

The Liberation War Museum is a perfect place to visit if you want to know about the History of Independence with the memorabilia from the 1971. The Museum was founded in March of 1996 to uphold the memory of the War. The museum has a collection of more than ten thousand articles. Photographs, documents, clippings and many other rare things and articles used by the martyrs are displayed there. Six galleries are arranged in the chronological order to give the viewers a good idea about the steps in the Liberation Movement.

For those bookworms a nice thing will be to read a great book on the Liberation War. We are here to suggest a few. Ekattorer Dinguli by Jahanara Imam is quite nice. Ami Bijoy Dekhechi by M R Akhtar Mukul is a must read for the Liberation War enthusiasts. And those who are interested not in the anecdotes but in war fictions Muhammad Zafar Iqbal's unique and poignant books like Ekjon Durbol Manush, Nurul Abong Tar Noteboi and Amar Bondhu Rashed are great reads.

Well, there you go. Whatever option you go for, don't forget that this is one day when you can really hold your head high and take pride in being called a Bangladeshi.

By Durdana Ghias
This writer is an RS Award nominee. To vote for her mail to theconnection123@hotmail.com


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