Syed Mustafa Ahmad
Prejudice can be defined as the preconceived opinion that is not based on reason or actual experience. Oliver Goldsmith, an Irish poet and essayist, in his essay “ Pride and Prejudices” has rightly maintained that a prejudiced man is very dangerous for the society. He is of the opinion that I would like to call myself the citizen of the world; rather the citizen of a particular region, whether it is a state, country or nation, in case of nationalism. Apart from this, there are prejudices in cases of religion, castes, education, etc. In case of nationalism, he is an internationalist. He wants us to rise above the narrow parameters of judging anyone’s nationalism or patriotism without knowing the details. He says that a true nationalist can’t hate the nationalists of other countries. Being a nationalist, doesn’t mean that we are going to hate others. For him, a true nationalist welcomes others and tries to look at both sides of the coin. Oliver says that the most dangerous threat to the peace of the world is pseudo-nationalists. They can never be understood. They can leave anytime their country in danger when they are needed the most. It is the view of a person who has travelled a lot and has experienced the different people. He tried to know the loyalties of people. He was curious to know why people loved their countries over others. In this perspective, let us know our position. If we look at ourselves and try to know where we stand in the light of the above facts, I think we all except some, will fall in the category of the pseudo nationalists. The past experience has made it clear. Where there are material gains, we forget the previous loyalties and get engaged in the newest of loyalties. One day our priority is this country and on the very next day, we use slang language against the former one. In this situation, it becomes difficult to understand the real nationalists. Let us try to know more about ourselves. In the Indian perspective, the majority of the population is the Hindus. They consciously or consciously have made it their habit to judge a Muslim by the same standards. One Muslim’s poison can be some Muslim’s honey and vice versa. It reflects back when an arrogant Hindu makes it possible to use slang or foul language against his or her religion. In this situation, we make our mind that all the Hindus behave are arrogants and all the Muslims are terrorists. However, there is no denying the fact that terrorists are present in so-called every community of the world. They are not specified to a single group. It is where the harmful seeds of prejudices are sown and slowly and steadily, they sprout and become the big trees of conflict and humiliation. The second instance is when it comes to patriotism and nationalism. Patriotism is the necessary characteristic of a citizen. Without it, he or she is not fit to be called a human being. But nationalism is a thing to be avoided. It is nationalism that resulted in the death of crores of people, destruction of property, environmental pollution, injury to billions, spreading of deadly diseases, etc.
Moreover, he hated untouchability as he loved to meet every kind of people without any preconceived opinion. He was ready. Are we ready? Are we going to clean our minds from the preconceived opinions and embark on the journey of learning the basic truth and leave prejudices?
In our country, it has become necessary to prove one’s patriotism. I love my country. I want it to develop. I can’t tolerate if an aggressor attacks it. For this situation, we should be true to ourselves. For example our leaders in the valley of Jammu and Kashmir, become angry when an outsider, say Pakistan, talks about the war against India. They leave no stone unturned in proving their patriotism. But these are the same people who are hell bent upon destroying the country, when they are caught in different scandals. This is the best example of pseudo-nationalism. In India, the so-called leaders warn other countries that abstain from looking at India through dirty eyes. But in reality, these are the same persons who are anti-national because they communalize the society in their localities. They brainwash the gullible people of one community against the other. But on the national level, they talk sweetly and never got tired in declaring that this land is the land of Ram, Rahim, Jesus, Buddha, Mahavira, Guru Nanak, etc. But when their prejudiced minds start working in the bad directions, they again become the frogs of the small well. Recently, the CAA made it clear that we are prejudiced people. We are determined in declaring that in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh are the Islamic States, where the minorities are in danger. This mindset can’t be changed. What is the position of the minorities in India is of the grave concern? We sometimes hate the same crime and sometimes love it. This binary is difficult to understand. It works for a time period but eventually, the so-called edifice comes down tumbling. And it is tumbling day by day. Our heritage of collective living is hijacked by some pseudo nationalists. The third form of prejudice is found in castes. The Brahmins among the Hindus and the Sayyids among the Muslims, are to be respected and to me made leaders. This is the worst distortion of history, religion, humanity, etc. A Brahmin can be a cheat while a Shudra can be morally fit. In the same vein, a Sayyid can be a deceitful person while a Dar can be ethically uplifted. This mindset has been prevailing since long. It has hampered our progress. The best way of achieving success is to learn something from every person, state, country, nation, etc. Limitations are everywhere but the best way is to correct them. There is no logic in uttering the things that have no base and hurt the common benefit of the universe. In this article, I tried my best to speak my heart. I come across these situations daily. I feel pain in my soul when the anti-national lead the nation. My soul bears holes when the prejudiced leaders become the leaders. I deliberate upon the truth, mediate a while and find that we have miles to go to be like Oliver Goldsmith, who loved to be called the citizen of the world. Moreover, he hated untouchability as he loved to meet every kind of people without any preconceived opinion. He was ready. Are we ready? Are we going to clean our minds from the preconceived opinions and embark on the journey of learning the basic truth and leave prejudices?
(The author is a freelancer and writes regularly for “Kashmir Horizon”. Views are his own, [email protected])