At times, it’s our fault!
Living in one's country can benefit in more ways than one. While many Bangladeshis strive for an opportunity to get settled abroad, there are also those who prefer living in their homeland. There is a certain freedom that is enjoyed while living in one's own country. Sadly, here in Bangladesh, we seem to take pernicious advantage of it.
The political scenario here in Bangladesh is not always stable and the slipshod law and order is sometimes more of a stress than a relief. Still, the ever-so familiar hustle and bustle of the streets and the known places do give us a sense of belongingness. For living, everyone prefers societies which are peaceful, neat and clean, where we feel safe and secured, and where the basic facilities are available. Living in Bangladesh, though, comes with mixed experiences.
We complain a lot about the government, about their wrong doings, comments, irresponsibility, ethics and what not. Despite that, it concerns me, how much have we, as citizens, been able to contribute and do our duty to keep our society and country on the right track?
Incidents resulting from the ignorance of the government such as the horrendous accidents in the streets, the hellish fire hazards and other crisis situations have always been on the headlines. One can argue how much access the public gets in shaping the policies of our country, but there's a lot we can do where we are involved first-hand. And yes, the situation is very grim. If only we could have controlled our ignorant souls.
The age-old practices by us have been taken for granted and people don't even cry out against the misdeeds. I have seen engineers who build undermining standards and compromises safety for extra profit of the greedy employer. We all know of the doctors who prescribe unnecessary tests to the ailing patient for the business of his reputed hospital. The wicked lawyers complicate and extend court cases to charge extra from his na�ve client.
Bankers rejecting policies for bribery and lending huge sums of money without guarantee of return is a new addition to that list. The amiable trader poisons our food deceiving themselves and us. And despite the many government measures, we are all ready to adapt to food prices should they rise in the coming Ramadan, the circumstance in other Muslim countries during this holy month is, however, the opposite. The irresponsible disposal of wastes by the industries is killing our fish, polluting the river water and harming the crops. The many drivers driving unfit vehicles to save the cost of repair is endangering lives of the pedestrians and himself, and also polluting the air.
What about us wasting food? Most of us waste food at home and even more at outing, while the poverty-stricken spends the day on an empty stomach. The home-maker who keeps the kitchen stove burning to save herself from the tiring work to blow off and then waste another precious matchstick to light it again for heating is equally guilty for wasting our national resources. The lazy pedestrian who doesn't want to use the foot-over bridge risks his life from being overrun by speeding vehicles. None but us suffers and will continue to in the long run for our sins, and yes, I do consider these as very big sins in a world where we talk about morals, rights, and justice.
When we go abroad to study, visit or work we restrain ourselves from doing these grave mistakes and unfaithfully praise that nation and their people and quite funnily criticize ourselves and our country. Ironically, upon returning, we get back to our old habits again and blame the system for all the problems of our society. And to think we sacrificed lives for our liberation, only to ruin a majestic civilization and give it a bad name.
The politicians of our country, represents us in every way whether we like it or not. There are noble ones, like many noble personalities we look up to, but the corrupt ones give the rest of the lot bad names. The building of DNCC not having fire emergency arrangements is, however, not acceptable in any context and demands full raise of our voice for sheer irresponsibility.
The engineers, lawyers, doctors, bankers, administrators, workers, traders and of other professions are among us only. We the people, not all but certainly in majority, are responsible for all the problems, including the dirty streets and pollution for which our Dhaka is regrettably infamous. We made up our present societal conditions gradually and we alone are guilty of giving ourselves the impression of the third world. Growing up, we learn to build strong characters, but rarely do we think of being responsible citizens. I wonder what is the fault in our stars? Is it just lack of literacy, common sense or is it just one of our vices?
Bangladesh ranks at the bottom in terms of many global indices, including transparency. At times, it's our fault! Not the system, but us who should be held accountable. There are incidents when we offer bribery before even being asked. It's as if we are self-persuaded and know that bribery is the only true path. Sometimes, I think a fraction of us are actually encouraging this menace. An Act preventing corruption was introduced way back in 1947. But the laws will never work on its own. The government needs our part of the effort to make the laws work.
I once read, 'the whole world would be a better place only if we indulged in criticizing ourselves and not others.' It's high time we accept our duty and take the responsibility on our own hands. Only we can bring the change we want to see in our society.
The writer is an Engineer by profession, writer by passion, and a political activist by choice