June 27, 2012

Let’s not break our social bonds

I write much about social division and its ugly ramifications because, unfortunately, it is where Maldivian society is heading for, if our civil society does not become aware of this and do something about it. Our politicians are too busy digging the trenches of division we call parties for them to care about the negative consequences – their only thought must be on the gains of position. But, because it will be we, the public, who will fall into those pits, we have to be the ones to anticipate such dangers and do that something to avert our fall.  The trick in setting a trap is the quality of the distraction. And that is what the trap setters know best. If a good enough bait is given, the result of a good catch is inevitable – the fishermen, bird and game trappers, and many of us too as occasional rat or mouse catcher in our homes, know this. The metaphor works for us as a community too. Our parties can lure us to the enticements given. But be assured, the pleasure of the bait can only be very short lived, and with the damage done, we will be too deep down in the pit to raise ourselves out and by then the perpetrator may be gone. Even in this short span of four years of multi-party democracy, we already see in Maldives, the widening cracks of division in our island communities as a consequence -- between old friends, loving spouses, among caring siblings, and even within hitherto cohesive island communities. That this is happening is telling of the fragility of our character when the whisperings of selfish desires can so easily derail generations of social bonding that exist in our communities Such a sad shame, surely not one that democracy called for! Alternatively, we can actively avert the perils. We can become aware of the dangers of division and actively seek the benefits of union, sharing and friendship.

There is nobody that has not experienced the happiness of union. Union or oneness leads to happiness. That is nature at its very basic. Family bonding, friendships, mergers, marriages, team, rallies, celebrations, nations, concerts, etc are all comings together – the convergence of people. Intrinsically, joy and happiness is in the getting together. So there is a certain inherent aspect that is bound in our DNA that makes us feel our essence when we are connected to each other. It is the feeling of comfort, confidence and security we experience in unity.

Every joining together – even our political parties – would be good in this sense if there is a rallying factor such as a common ideal or moral principle that all members band together to follow. However, when there is a divisive element inherent in this coming together the outcome will surely bear conflict. Dividing up society based on vested interests will undeniably breed conflict whereas constructive ideals, even though these may be many (as in many parties with such ideals leading those subscribing), will find the common ground because the basis of moral thought and action always is harmony.

Given the continuing conflict we see in Maldives in the exercise of our multi-party democracy, the public needs to seriously consider the reason for the seemingly good ideas of social togetherness falling apart and instead the emergence of the deeper dangers of conflict. It is not enough to brush aside the prevalence of such issues to the vagaries of politics as teething problems of democracy, or couched in careless comment such as “that’s what politics is” or to say “it’s acceptable because that is the fare of the political game all over the world”. Wrong doing, even if it’s done by everyone, will still count as wrong, and such wrongs need addressing with serious public engagement, for, the purpose of democracy and its leadership is to engender societal harmony – not conflict and anxiety.

The laws of nature cannot be wrong for us because we are the product of it. Our purpose and role is to follow its directive. Adjusting nature to our convenience will inevitably upset nature’s balance and it will not be a triviality to set it back on balance. Just like our climate change disaster is showing to us how nature can react to our mindless doing and the colossal effort needed to put it back on track, in the social sphere too, the disruption of our social structures from the harmony nature planned for us in our evolutionary essence will not go unscathed on us. We cannot wait for the inevitability to happen to us. We need alert and early action. Let’s not let anyone break our social bonds, it can only weaken us. 

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