Tuesday, February 14, 2012

The Valentine Phenomenon

Every year, the 14 February brings a heated debate about whether or not we should celebrate this day like the western world does. The increasing polarisation of our nation into conservatives and liberals has forced me to proclaim that this post is neither in favor of nor against the celebration itself. I believe celebration is on because it is selling. Everything that sells finds sellers and buyers. For me, those social dynamics are worth discussing that add fuel to the fire. I want to examine our social contradictions and hypocrisy that makes our arguments hollow.

Definitely Valentine and his legacy has nothing to do with our civilization as well as culture. Not only with Muslims but conservatives in India have also been visibly furious this time, burning effigies and doing manifestations. Agreed that it is against eastern culture but there remains some issues to be discussed, especially on our side of the border, which I will focus upon.

First of all, the strictest criticism comes from a those corners of the society who have issues with their interpretation of religion. Instead of addressing issues pertinent to the functioning of state and provision of social justice to its people which should be the spirit, they have stuck to a primitive understanding of the religious fundamentals with obvious dents and contradictions in their approaches. The biggest problem being faced by Pakistan is an economic and political crisis, precipitated by military establishment's handling with state institutions. It includes the war on terror, missing persons and mutilated bodies in Baluchistan as well as growing militancy in the country. All of these problems have their roots with the military engagements in the country. In one way or the other, the religio-political parties have been part of the problem rather than being part of the solution. Their defiance of reason and use of religion for political benefits has contributed sufficiently to the current state of affaires. So, a word of opposition coming from the said camp based on their personal interpretation of religion loses weight even before it propagates.
Second is disorder prevailing inside our own house. We use religion as long as it helps, and when it doesn't, we use family traditions and tribal customs whatever whenever and wherever it suits. Take the example of vani and karokari, the honor killing and more so. Our preachers very well know that without independent will of the couple, the marriage knot is not possible to tie. Yet the practice goes on because it doesn't hurt anyone's macho, and it doesn't undermines their supremacy. When it comes to child-abuse, daughter-in-law abuse or any other form of brutality not infrequent in this country, their guns remain silent. A society with such dualities teaches nothing to its children but duality and unfaithfulness. The cancer of dowry, the materialism and dissatisfaction is the result of the same worn out customs that plague the society. If the institution of marriage will become more and more unreachable in terms of its economic and emotional cost, the symptoms like valentine's day will continue to emerge.

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