Monday, July 4, 2022
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Democracy means disagreement with dignity

Wajeeha Bilal

We live in a controversial world where we are compelled to pick sides and any criticism of an idea leads to the belief “you’re either with us, or against us” sandbagging everyone into friends or foes. Unfortunately, the social media debates among parties and their supporters move from the planning of a prosperous future into a domain of utter disrespect and disregard for each other.

This kind of stubbornness restricts the potential to grow and reform new objectives and viewpoints for the future of the country. Just because you hold a different opinion from mine does not mean we are against each other, or we have to develop hateful terms for our opinions.

Humans have gone to war because the people representing them do not learn to resolve their issues or differences with the opposing forces. Humanity may have found a way to rule through democracy but there is a dire need for democratic strategies when their representatives need to negotiate with one another. The main reason for human agitation at having different opinion is the lack of patience and tolerance for others and their ideas. We realize that democracy has come to be recognized as the best form of government, but democratic leadership does not mean a compromise of ethics and morals by exploiting the leading status rather it is the path to coexisting with moral dignity and eminence. Coexistence in society means that we can learn to stand up for our values and speak up for what we believe in with grace.

Dignity is vital to the development of any debate in a civilized culture; whether it is at The National Assembly turning into a battleground as the opposition and treasury members scuffle with each other and use budget documents as attacking weapons OR about an international interview of the Prime Minister with Jonathan Swan. PM Khan had received backlash for his controversial statement, “If a woman is wearing very few clothes, it will have an impact on the men, unless they are robots. It’s just common sense.” He went on to state that it was “cultural imperialism”, while netizens had shown much resentment by calling him a rape apologist, his party members and social media supporters have found ways to justify that it was about the act of observing veil “purdah” and in no way related to the crime of rape. Well to be honest if that be the case then then the answer about observing ‘purdah’ in a religion, was in no way related to the question that was asked about a heinous crime which is mostly inflicted on the innocent. The purity of “purdah” (veil) in a pious religion is not a valid answer to a question about a despicable crime, whose victims are mostly children in a society. Since I disagree with my leader on this statement, it does not mean I hate the leadership in any way, I just find it right to stand for what I believe in.

While the debates of the supporters and the attackers have rained the media for a long time, it is a fact that there is no shame in accepting your own or your leader’s fault with dignity. Having the courtesy and the ability to listen to opposing views and understanding something wrong is the essence of a true leadership. The excuse for justifying a wrong statement lies in the inability to be strong enough to admitting a mistake. Admitting a fault is not weakness, it is a way that humbles and dignifies people. Democracy can also civilize the leaders by coming out with an apology by saying that the question could have been handled in a better way, as there is no excuse for a heinous crime. Any kind of humble acceptance surely triumphs over any justification. Following a democratic leader requires that we stand unanimous in creating awareness and exposing any wrong attitude that aims at justifying criminal behavior. If there was no awareness and check by the people who stood with their leader, this earth would be an abode of mischief. A criminal is a criminal and abuse is an abuse whether physical or verbal, there is no how and why to it and we stand against it.

There always comes a point in an argument when it is to be realized by both the parties that future debate will prove useless unless it is ended with a civilized understanding. You can learn to disagree at appropriate terms without resorting to hateful verbal or physical aggression. At this crossroad of witnessing the daily talk shows and live attacks in the assemblies, democracy and freedom of speech seem to lose their values with the lack of civility. When aggression becomes a way of earning more views, the lawmakers become the law breakers and the leaders become the perfect examples of barbaric inhuman crudes. How can one claim to be a nation of Unity, Faith and Discipline when these words are overtaken by savagery, the moment there is a disagreement between two leading representatives? Debates and discussions are the quintessence of Democracy as long as they are carried out with respect and honor.

We should provide space for different viewpoints so that all debates are countered with dignity and honor. The reality is that we are all humans who are likely to make mistakes and that not everyone has the same beliefs as we do. There must be a mutual respect for each other in an argument and a tolerance for accepting our mistakes, or those of our leaders’.

(Wajeeha is the author of The Conscious Ego” and The Beautiful Present”)

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