In Sabeen’s murder, an opinionated voice was silenced. After innocent school children, an unarmed lady was feared. The killers maybe different and still unnamed but their charge is the same – MURDER!
This time, the voice wasn't ‘against’ the ruling party or a mafia, as usually the crime is, but was ‘for’ dialogue, ideas and rights. Some may conveniently term it ‘anti-state’ though.
The killers won’t be identified for they have never been in history, nor would those calling shots be highlighted. Memoirs, tributes and vigils would maybe help cope a sense of loss for some but the problem will remain unresolved.
The problem was clearly not Sabeen Mahmud. In fact, unlike thousands of us, it was a voice that stood up boldly for what it believed in despite knowing the possible repercussions.
Silencing voices, one after the other, will not achieve much besides time-bound gain (till you are in power!).
The Fall of Dhaka happened in 1971 when you tried to silence voices 50 years ago!
A dissenting voice is not always wrong. In reality, you take action to forcefully oppress it so you can hide your own incapability and corner the truth for as long as possible.
The underlying truth is that the problem, which killed Sabeen too, is a part of us all and is deeply engrained in our society. It is the strength of character to call a spade ‘spade’ and of the mind to accept criticism. As a society, sadly, we lack both. Why don’t we outrightly call those who kill, murderers? Does your vocabulary have another, more appropriate word for it? But we are definitely ‘literate’ enough (read: liberal) to mock those who have the clarity to speak the truth fearlessly!
The core of the problem lies in the education system. Instead of delivering lectures in the classroom or simply reading out text material to ‘educate’ our kids, we need to put in practice teaching methods that promote conceptual understanding, pushes kids to think beyond what is being told and encourage them to ask questions. I am not talking about the Grammars, Aitchisons or Beaconhouses here – I am more concerned about the common schools, government and private, that are ruining the learning experience for our next generation. This goes out for parents too. Enough of feeding one-sided, biased, factually incomplete information – be it about history, religion or politics. Let your children think! They will be our CEOs, bureaucrats and politicians in the coming twenty years.
When you understand a concept, you gain clarity of thought and it is only then that you can debate about it to win people to your side.
Unless we start promoting dialogue at a micro-level, another 50 years will pass by, one generation after the other, we will remain in a state we are at today – heartbroken at a Sabeen’s murder!