By: Mawra Raja
The Sialkot incident which happened on 3 Dec, 2021 is horribly depressing. Every sane mind is sick to stomach hearing of it. Hardly anyone can deny that it is outrageous on religious, legal and moral grounds because the notion of dreadful death is threatening for survival and makes living meaningless. Amongst the gifts of nature life is the most valuable one and seeing it slayed in the hands of ignorance and madness for the unknown arouses uproar and serious calls for street and hash-tag justice.
While everybody is comfortably blaming the mob there is hardly anyone accepting the blame. The bad man habit of passing the buck is rolling up because it is easier to call names to the police, politicians, factory owners, mob and the clergy. The tall order is to blame ourselves for contributing to this misery. Much harder it is to accept that we are the agents of injustice and for a real change we have to change, our attitudes have to change and our daily behaviours have to change. We are the impetus of unfairness everywhere be it at homes, social gatherings or schools. In our homes we are always asking for dowry although we agree it is despicable. In our social gatherings we make friends on the basis of how much wealth the other person has and we say there is no trend-setting there. In classes we withhold dissent and say that is harmless, after all no physical harm is ever done and who wants to be beyond a mark sheet or being bread runner. Our qualifications are a way to attract fortune and that is not problematic. We do not let our children decide their careers and that is no big deal because it is always right to go for mainstream professions. After creating all these messy life conditions and diseases of lifestyles and societal handicaps we have no right to say that those few out there are to be blamed and we are free of blame. If blame game is our way of finding a resolve then it must start with blaming ourselves.
The truth is that blame is never the answer and it has never been. If it was there would not have been series of brutalities around us including beheading one’s friend, chopping off one’s husband, hanging one’s children on trees, jumping off high-rise building and stealing from dead bodies. These rising incidents are a signpost for lack of knowledge about the value of life. To this end, it is pertinent to begin by asking what it is that makes life the most valuable experience. There are four possibilities. One is to say that life is naturally valuable. Second is to say it is morally valuable. Third is to say it is legally valuable. Last is to say it is socially valuable. But what do these mean?
Taking life naturally valuable evokes eight sub-questions including what is meant by human life. Is human life a condition for existence? Is existence separate from human life? Is existence about experience of human life? Can our galaxy exist without human life? Can our galaxy exist without the experience of human life? Can we exist without life? Can we exist without experience of human life? Narrowing down there are two main questions: what are the conditions of existence and what are the conditions of human life? Thinking further the natural value of life is the ability of human beings to work out the conditions of existence or human life.
Moving on, taking life morally valuable raises five further questions such as what are morals? Are these conditions of good behaviour? Are these conditions of good life? Are these conditions of acceptable conduct? Are these conditions of acceptable conduct by all, majority, few learned or learned majority? Deep reflection reveals that the ability to acquire knowledge about life and disseminating it to those around us by being its practical example is what makes life morally valuable.
As regards the legal value of life it is possible to say that this has to do with our ability to develop a system of sanctioning those who fail to work out the conditions of human life or make it difficult for others to achieve the same. Lastly the social value of life is determined by our ability to minimize the factors which make it difficult to figure out the conditions of human life.
Therefore the real question to ask is: what are the factors which make it difficult to work out the conditions of human life? This has three possibilities. First is the lack of consensus about how to live. Second is lack of knowledge about which knowledge to pursue. Third is lack of practice of knowledge. If we truly care about incidents like Sialkot killing then we must do away with blame game and ask ourselves why our society lacks consensus about how to live, which knowledge to pursue and how to put it into practice. Till this discussion is engaged our society will always be wanting of dignified life and death.
The writer is a professional columnist and can be reached at [email protected]