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Sunday, 10 November 2013

Respect vs Subseviance

Growing up in Pakistan, I was taught to respect my elders. I was firmly told not to question or answer back because one must listen to one's elders and do as told. It was very important to show respect. Being a "badtamiz" who questions, answers back, or uses his/her own brain in the presence of an elder, was the worst sort of a heathen. I learnt that I should never be a "badtamiz" or all the generations who came before me, and passed down this legacy of "tamiz", would shudder in their graves.

Men who spoke up, were oddballs but women who spoke up, were harlots. We were taught to be respectful children, grand-children, students, and most importantly respectful daughter-in-laws. In school, we did not question or challenge our teachers, at home as we grew older with patriarchal attitudes around us, we figured that we could challenge mom but father had to be treated with deference; after marriage, we had to please our in-laws, though they in turn owed us nothing. In religion, we were told repeatedly, do not question what you do not understand. In other words, close your minds. Now, we gawk at the religious fanatics masquerading as Muslims and wonder how they came to existence. How is it that we are unable to join the dots and follow that blind, unquestioning minds are easy to manipulate?

Our country, our society is headed in a direction that allows for little hope. There are millions of things going wrong and just a few going right. We all wonder how did we arrive at this state? We took many wrong turns but one of them is this culture of mindless subservience. We find ourselves at this juncture in history, by blindly following the people in power whether they be our elders, our teachers, our bosses or our rulers.

My husband always points out how in the West, politicians in their speeches speak of "serving" the people while in Pakistan, politicians talk of "ruling". This difference in lexicon gives us an insight into the difference in thought. In Pakistan, we give complete power to those in authority, allowing them to believe they rule us. Unchecked power leads to corruption of all kinds. It corrupts the soul of the person wielding it. We are human, all prone to make mistakes. We all need to be checked from time to time. Unchecked, us humans turn into egotistical monsters even in the guise of sweet grannies and grand-dads.

There is a difference between respect and subservience. Turning yourself into a fawning, unquestioning minion is not respectful to yourself or to the person whose feet you are grovelling at. If I respect myself and the person before me, I will be forthright and honest; both in my praise and my criticism. Only the morally weak, when in a position of power, demand subservience and only the weak give it unquestioningly.

"It only stands to reason that where there's sacrifice, there's someone collecting the sacrificial offerings. Where there's service, there is someone being served. The man who speaks to you of sacrifice is speaking of slaves and masters, and intends to be the master." - Ayn Rand

1 comment:

  1. In my opinion a child who asks is better. I like to contradict my parents, teachers, and anyone. I want my opinion heard.