Originally written on December 16, 2009. Every year December 16 comes with effusive hype of our liberation war. The memories are recounted, heroes are commemorated in words and we groom ourselves in green and red. What entails such ebullience is the other side of the emotion: an agony and perturbation. The question that transfixed our heart ever since is: If we have achieved a nation in ’71 then what have we built out of this nation so far? The equation of expectation and its outcome just grows ever confusing.
Nationalism is not what we fought for in ’71. Yes! We did indeed fight for a country, but that was just a collateral entity that was bound to be conceived of what we actually wanted. I think it is the fastest ‘fever’ that can catch any large group who are starving for an identity. But what causes that hunger is separate from what the pursuit emerges into. It’s easier to carve the definition of that pursuit because the tools are abundant- culture, language, religion, ethnicity- you name it and it can be exploited. The stronger the emotions the more effective its buoyancy. As long as words are there to frame accurately, emotions are stirred, events are born, histories are cultivated and thus, we get a nation- a great tool to exploit in the false consciousness of its demos indefinitely- for better and for worse! Once that nation is born, what surfaces next is the real cause of that nationalistic fervour. The discovery of it is onerous, slow and grim. As the effusive exuberance drives ourselves lost into the false consciousness of the mental world and once that emotion is gone, we are left with what we exactly fought for: justice, equality and freedom. Even if freedom is partially achieved by fighting a war and winning it, that part of the freedom was artificially defined at the beginning as we chose to fight the war. The other and the only significant part is the indefinite struggle that has the face, the semblance and the stories of a human being- its struggle to survive with dignity and sustenance. Bangladesh at her 38th year of conception is yet to give us that justice. Did we bring the war criminals to justice? – No! Do we provide the minorities with the right to survive with some dignity like the rest? – No! Haven’t we politicized justice we sought in 71 in the ugliest form? – Yes! The parameters of agony and perturbation multiply in-depth as expatriates have good reasons to find solace migrating abroad because the freedom as development in Bangladesh is contingent upon intransigent corruption and filthy lucre. And equality is as if only a rhetorical achievement which too appears in the political leaders’ harangue at their whim. The axiom is that such is the case not only in Bangladesh but in many other countries. There indeed lies a juxtaposition between the affluent nations and the least developed ones, but similar social and political factors do exist in all. Moreover, the struggle for freedom, equality and justice is meant to be indefinite otherwise ‘utopia’ would not have been only a semantic reality. Every human being is fighting the same fight be that the rape victims in Congo, women with fistula in Liberia or Somalia, the children lost in the abyss of pornography and human trafficking, the native women in Latin America, factory slaves of China, Tamils in concentration camps in Sri Lanka or the families who were eking out but now ruined because of the ‘fatcats’ of the Wall Street. The freedom fighters of Bangladesh fought with the same valour that these people hold on to everyday biting their lips to struggle and survive. Beyond nationalism and ethnicity, there lies this most fundamental identity conceived in a paramount potential- humanity. The potential for being human breeds art, innovation, the mind of the most abstract form as well as an altruistic drive that human being has incorporated in its evolution and sustenance. This fundamental identity is pounded and ruptured incessantly by the ugly force of poverty. This poverty has the same face in Bangladesh and everywhere. So let us not bind ourselves with boundaries and all other superficial identities. We may not avoid it since the historical development has made the nation too strong to dismember itself. But as Tagore insisted so we should oblige ourselves not to be blinded by our superficial identities. Instead, a simple humanistic approach can unfetter us from anything and everything of injustice, inequality and subjugation of every form be that within Bangladesh or beyond.