Standing for truth is not easy

The role of honesty in the establishment of peaceful civil society
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DR. FIAZ MAQBOOL FAZILI

The progress and prosperity of a society depend upon people’s honesty and integrity. If people are honest, society will be peaceful.

Why people are not ready to speak truth, or receive it? Often I have thought of this during my conversation with friends and family. The most common reaction is; “does the truth always win?” This ‘whatever works is right’ attitude has even crept into the traditionally God-fearing modest community of ours.

From politicians to business partners, secretaries to sales clerks, land grabbers to food and medicine adulterators, everyone seems to play foul with truth. As consumers we frequently complain of frequent power interruptions, pointing finger at transmission system; as commuters we complain of traffic jams. But on issues of power theft or illegal encroachments, or reckless driving, we adopt criminal silence.

To know about bread will not stay my hunger; to know that there are riches at the bank will not fill my pocket. Buy the truth, as well as know it; that is, make it your own.. Of course, for politicians the flip side of telling the truth is hearing the truth. How can you make the right decision if you can’t get truth? Should people stop telling the truth as it is no more a workable “currency?especially in our land.”

Do not misread it. It does not say hear about the truth.

Every newborn comes with new hopes and dreams and with renewed determination to live in unpolluted, unadulterated, humanistic society which values honest and honesty... would like to join them in wishing you a happy and prosperous birthdays! .

Hope the coming years are declared as PPP – peace, progress, prosperity. In fact, it is possibly the commonest political quote you will find anywhere on the World Wide Web. But it appeals to both people, politicians and administrators alike, and is equally useful in any camp as everyone has his/her own definitions and/or tools to gauge. And certainly we saw some progress towards long standing issue of drainage in civil colonies, traffic lights, railway, approval on long awaited drug policy, flyover works etc. But history tells us snow, unpredicted showers is as old as Kashmir history, that we saw during natural disaster like floods etc. where our disaster management proved disastrous. Definitely restoration of communication lines takes time, but under present electronic times, predicting and preparedness of natural disasters with alternatives for such climatic disasters puts our institutions and policy planners under scanner. Do we always need NGOs to involve and interfere personally to speed up things? I am trying to put preparedness in a disaster planning system on line and back to “truth to be told”. Definitely working in conflict zone has some compulsions in the way of taking “bold decisions” and announcing new policies, or getting everybody together on contentious issues. That is a challenge but initiatives on public issues like dog menace and the deadly bites, frequent power cuts, traffic jams, corruption and favouritism in offices, polluting water bodies, adulteration in food, medicine, state of art cancer center, cleaning of Dal lake etc; all this needs urgent implementation and strict follow up. All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.

Can I Stop playing with truth all the time? “Never think that you have reached the final stage of knowledge and nobody knows more than yourself. Remember! Above everyone endowed with knowledge is another endowed with more knowledge (Quran comm12:76). We are excellent at wearing masks in our society. Pretending I am not. sometimes I get depressed when I see people – myself included – just “going along to get along” with corruption or corrupt bosses or evil of society. Instead of voicing our honest concerns and constructive criticisms we ignore righteous behaviour, mince words, love to beat around the bush, or zip our lips, this is what most of us do.

To learn that we disagree on some very important issues can be hard sometimes because we want to appear successful and pleasing (flattering) to other people especially to our superiors, or friends, or to the audience. Perhaps we have an unholy fear that if we speak out about how we really feel, the boss or community will not agree; maybe we will not get the promotion, contracts, proximity to powerful or benefits of we were promised. Maybe we might put ourselves in unfavourable position - “undesired.” We think we can make it work, but all that negativity has to go somewhere – doesn’t it? It builds up and we take it out on our homes; our work place and ultimately creeps into our society. Instead of providing honest feedback we prefer to stick with the devil we know.

Is it really worth it? Have you no fear of God?! Now this question is very well addressed to us as well; especially those of us who follow some faith. You can close your eyes to the things you don’t want to see, but you can’t close your heart to the things you don’t want to feel. Indeed, it is not eyes that are blinded, but blinded are the hearts which are devoid of light, the most valuable possession of a human being: emaan (faith). Unfortunately preachers preach to be popular with their in fights and sectarian divides, instead of preaching to change individual attitude on corruption, norms being brazenly violated around us. Too often, we focus on methods instead of missions, prayer instead of humanistic Samaritan program. In these difficult times, at least on issues of”aam aadmi” or community interest, can’t we work together as a team.

The things we hope for are often future events. If only we could look beyond the horizon of mortality into what awaits us beyond this life. Fair enough, why can’t we tell the truth without making a “turn around ” attitude’’. It is your heart - let’s get started and find out about the amazing position of the truth in our apolitical lives be it maddening traffic jams, erratic traffic sense, violations of traffic lights, unmetered autos and taxis, no speed control even in city. And then frequent power interruptions especially during winter, sale of spurious drugs. drug addiction, sale of adulterated foods, ailing healthcare policy and patient dissatisfaction, erratic exam schedules, overweight school bags. Encroachments on water bodies and forest land, menace of street begging, crowd funding and unsupervised NGOs are few topping the anxiety list of sensitive citizens.

Now it’s time to test ourselves on the signs of a pure and devoted heartland; so understand the role of honesty in the establishment of peaceful society. In the light of our Tradition, there are about 30 Bible Verses. In my weak memory I could spot at least 16 Quranic verses based on the variations of the word ‘Truth’ about Power of Truth, Importance of Truth.

Dr. Fiaz Maqbool Fazili, a medical doctor, is a healthcare policy advisor on quality improvement and disaster management.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are the personal opinions of the author. The facts, analysis, assumptions and perspective appearing in the article do not reflect the views of GK.

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