Of Pilots, Peace Prizes and Pakistan

If you don’t know about the tensions that have been occurring in South Asia, I’m honestly not surprised. Despite India and Pakistan both being nuclear powers and having a history of wars and skirmishes regarding a still unsolved issue, not many people internationally know about this. It’s a very complex issue and choosing a stance without studying all the history and background (as most people are doing) is in itself a problematic thing to do.

But there are very few things in this world that aren’t problematic, so let’s just roll with it for now. This post isn’t going to sit down and update you about the situation or try to convince you about which side you’re supposed to be picking or anything like that. I think I’ve had enough of people telling me what they think and that’s why I won’t be doing the same to you. It doesn’t change the fact that I think it’s really alarming that the international community isn’t more concerned about the very real possibility of a nuclear war, so if you decide to read up on things, I won’t stop you.

If there’s anything that this whole affair has brought up, it’s the fact that there’s a very high level of nationalism that is sweeping across both sides of the border. Perhaps a little too hyped up thanks to Indian media, there’s no mistaking the fact that tensions are running high. While Pakistanis might be taking the situation a little too lightly with a fresh variety of memes and jokes flooding social media, the Indians seem to be out for blood. At the end of the day, one thing is absolutely clear: none of the people tweeting and typing away at their keyboards are at the border, experiencing the war that they are commenting on.

The truth is, war is not what it looks like in movies. There is no glory or honor in war, just death and an ugly aftermath. What’s worse is that the war of today is no longer a war of swords or guns, military tactics or combat techniques. The war of today is just the push of a button. There is no honor or heroism in any of that and whatever victory emerges from the ashes will be a hollow one.

For all those who think they can run away or think that they are safe just because they are not in Asia, you really couldn’t be more wrong. In the event of a nuclear fallout, the entire world will be affected. The world isn’t just a global village metaphorically, in fact, it is very much the reality. We share the same oceans and the same atmosphere. Just because you’re not the direct target doesn’t mean the radiation won’t reach you eventually.

I’m honestly surprised at why people aren’t concerned about this. Just a few days ago, there was a lot of discussion regarding global warming and climate change. The prospect of a nuclear war makes all of that seem irrelevant: what’s the point of championing towards reversing global warming and climate change if there’s no concern regarding a very real apocalypse looming over the world?

My next point may come across as counter intuitive, but if there’s anything positive about this wave of nationalism that I’m seeing, it’s that it gives perspective about how passionate the average person can become. In the corridors, every other person is talking about current affairs, giving their opinions and arguing like the fate of the world depends on it.

Unfortunately, most of these people don’t put their money where their mouth is.

You want the Pakistan Army to fight India and show them who is boss, but you won’t stop watching Bollywood movies and absorbing their pervasive mentality and culture. You want the Kashmiris to get their freedom but you won’t show up to rallies and protests for Kashmir on Kashmir day. You want Naya Pakistan but you’re busy doing your best to run off to America at the first chance you get.

A common question that might come across your mind when seeing all these things happening outside of your control is “what can I do about this?” and if this question doesn’t regularly pop up in the cerebrum housing your thoughts, then quite honestly, you are a problem too.

“Whosoever of you sees an evil, let him change it with his hand; and if he is not able to do so, then let him change it with his tongue; and if he is not able to do so, then with his heart — and that is the weakest of faith.”

Earlier this week, Yusuf Chambers came for an informal discussion and had this very question posed to him: what can we do about things that are out of our control? The answer is within the Hadith of the Prophet (SAW) where the levels of what you can do is very neatly described.

The first thing you can do is condemn the evil in your heart, to know that it is truly evil and have an unshakable belief that it really is so. After all, you can’t move forward if you don’t really believe that something is wrong. If you don’t really believe that climate change is real, why would you go out of your way to do something about it? So this first level involves educating yourself and making it clear that something needs to be done.

The second level of bringing change is to do it with your tongue. Talk to people about it, create awareness about it, start a dialogue with the very person or body that is creating the issue you want to put an end to. With the power of social media right at our finger tips, you could write about it too! Make your opinion and your stance heard and rally other people to join your cause. The voice of a collective group will always be stronger than the voice of one.

The third and most decisive level is to bring it about with your hands, or in other words, with your actions. If you think pollution is real, you should talk about pollution and then you should start working towards eradicating pollution, whether it’s by plogging (jogging + picking up trash in your area) or writing letters and petitions to your local authority or government or even do both! Again, a collective effort will bring about a ripple of change and you’d be surprised how big things can get!

The most important thing about trying to channel nationalism towards doing something positive and productive for your country includes finding the right people to do it with. There will always be people out there who will look at your and your ideas and laugh at you and call you a fool for thinking something so small would change anything. While it shouldn’t shake your core belief, it isn’t that difficult to understand how demotivating it can feel to be fighting against the world. Gathering a group of like minded people to help keep a check on each other and stay motivated is a fantastic way to turn something small into something long-term and sustainable.

Honestly, the sky is the limit. If everyone planted one tree, we’d have a forest. So take the time to look around and see all the things you have a problem with and ask yourself: what can I do to fix this?

Who knows, maybe one day people will be filling out petitions to give you the Nobel Peace Prize too. Wouldn’t that be a pleasant future to think about.


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