What’s the rush?

Everyday, I catch the train to go to work. I spend the thirty minute commute attentively observing or silently snoring. Either way, I am left quite amused. It goes without saying that observation is a key to learning. Sometimes unwanted visual, audible and smelly learning, nonetheless, knowledge is a matter-of-factly empowering. But something, that we are all aware of and even a victim of, has been of great interest to me very recently – we always seem to be in a rush!

On my way to work today, at the train station, I noticed an absurd event. As soon as the train arrived on its platform, an Asian man pushed a young Caucasian woman to get ahead of her and win the first spot on the queue to board. The young woman, offended by his action, raised her hands in the air, without receiving any acknowledgment whatsoever from the man. Not only are we in a rush, we also seemed to have forgotten our manners. I was enraged at the scene and shared a glance of solidarity with my fellow passenger. When we boarded the train we glanced at each other again, this time we did so victoriously, because we both secured a seat while the obnoxious man failed to.

I always come across such hurries and worries. Even when I am out for a stroll in the afternoon, I find myself feeling incompetent and lost when everyone expresses their agitation if they are behind me and I am walking too slow (compared to them, ofcourse, not in general). Instantly, I become nervous and stop to give way. At such times, I wonder maybe we should have indicators too, like automobiles or perhaps, there should be speed limits on pedestrian accesses, as well. I will almost, always be on the left lane and avoid the highway.

The day it struck me that we have indeed become too fast was when a homeless person who always sits on the corner of a street, pushed me to walk ahead and then, turned back to make sure that I was aware of his indignation. Yes, that’s when I asked myself  have people become timeless?

It’s strange, in a world where spirituality seems to be reigning and people are chasing after inner peace to get through their day, time seems to be slipping through our fingers. I have a 9-5 job, and that’s all that defines my life. I spend the weekend worrying about Monday morning, and before I know it, my weekend has obviously passed away. Even if I find some time for yoga or reading, I always think about my work at the back of my head. The need to get ahead and leave everyone behind is a concept that should cease to exist. I never understood the reason behind competition- why do we have to instill competitiveness to motivate? Why do we have to insert an element of competition to raise efficiency? If we teach that, in order to be better, one needs to be better than others, how are we teaching unity or living harmoniously? I thought the industrial revolution was over or are we still trying to make machines out of humans? Motivation should come naturally towards something, and if it doesn’t then perhaps, something is just not right.

We are constantly racing in order to survive in a world with a population of more than seven billion people. Can we really win such a race?  So I wonder as I stare at my table clock in my office, what’s the rush?

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Mass Amnesia Syndrome

While I was reading “One Hundred Years of Solitude” a couple of weeks back, I felt I was reliving a moment in last year’s political turmoil in Dhaka. I was reading the part with the killing of three thousand men, women and children in the square near the railway station, who were gunned down by the soldiers sent to maintain order. Jose Arcadio Segundo, a survivor from the massacre, found himself heaped with dead bodies on a train and had managed to escape with the memory intact. He came back to the town of Macondo where it all happened, and discovered that no one could recall such an awful event ever taking place.

It reminds me of the night when members of the Hefazat-e-Islam were driven out of Dhaka city from the Shapla Chattar in Motijheel. The event had come to be termed as 2013 Operation at Motijheel Shapla Chattar. While, we have no clue what had actually happened as the government had barred any sort of media coverage on the night of the eradication, I still think of it as somewhat strange. It could be that nothing had happened or perhaps, a lot has happened, but we will never know. Many such events had happened at several points of time. We see, we hear, we read, but most importantly we forget. It’s like we all suffer from amnesia, unknowingly.

Thanks to social networks like Facebook and Twitter, we are aware of atrocities surrounding us on a daily basis. They help us to remove ignorance and tune into reality through other people’s status updates and sharing of articles, which may otherwise never make it to the newspapers. It helps. But like all other global problems, it makes us concentrate on the present moment and fails to sustain the impact of the awareness. We rant and share today, then we are made to forget tomorrow. Are we all suffering from Mass Amnesia Syndrome?

Not to single out this event only, and being a victim myself, it occurred to me that we forget very easily just as we are pleased very easily. In  a collective defense, I figured forgetting is part of the moving-on mechanism where if you hang on to an event or even a person, you often cease to live life presently. To counteract that very defense; we forget because we accept. In terms of this event, of which we have little to no information about, we had the right to know. The media plays a critical role in today’s society. It turned ignorant people like me to reading three to four newspapers a day to be updated on world affairs. It has more power than we can imagine as it influences our thought process and sometimes, even our actions. National catastrophes has recently become a vague memory in our lives as we “move on”. If we carry on this trend, then the earth may cease to be progressive in nature. We will almost always end up in the past, recreating history in all its glory. In fact, we are almost craving for the medieval times with our obsession over TV shows like Game of Thrones and Boardwalk Empire. Sometime ago, even in the modern times, we were still slightly shy of watching nudity and repelled being exposed to bloody murders, let alone popping out eye balls with blood splattering all around! Now, we are all for it, celebrating the magnificence of a scene so well written by a writer who loves to kill off his most noble characters, and letting evil survive more often than not.

The discovery of the world being round has a lot to do with human lives too, in my humble opinion. We start at one point, make so much progress along the way, only to return to where we started.

 

Hefajat men flee Motijheel, The Daily Star, Monday, May 6, 2013

 

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