by Mohammad Ashraf Chaudhry
“He taunts you with bills you can’t pay, people you can’t please, habits you can’t break, failures you can’t forget, and a future you can’t face. But just like David, you can face your giant-Goliath-, even if you aren’t strongest, the smartest, the best equipped, or the holiest.”Max Lucado (Facing your Giants).
A linchpin is perhaps the most inexpensive thing, a mere 10C stuff, a locking device inserted crosswise at the end of an axle or a shaft, with the sole purpose to keep and hold together the parts/elements that exist or function as a unit. But it is so important and instrumental in the sublime task that it performs that a good writer like Seth Godin chose to write a wonderful book on it. Countries and families, too, have their own linchpins.
According to him, there are two kinds of teams, two kinds of people in a playfield or in a work place or at a home- i.e. those who lead, and those who follow. But there is a third kind of people as well- the linchpins- who act as a glue, as a lubricant- people who keep things together, and keep them running efficiently, who invent solutions, who lead and perform such tasks, regardless of position and title, who connect others when they are at loggerheads; who make things happen when the most brilliant minds are clueless, who translate dreams into realities.
These are the people who prevent disasters, and avert dooms because they are the one who figure out what to do when others are at their wit’s end; they are the people who lead out others when they are embroiled in panic and chaos.
And the most amazing thing about such linchpin- people is that they do all this willingly and smilingly and creatively, and they do it often when there are no rule- books for guidance either. Irony of the matter is that we are all surrounded by such people, and are often embedded with them, but we either fail to take a serious notice of them, or we just most willingly sideline them and ignore them. But these are the people who love their work, and they put in their extra best in it. And how amazing that they turn each day into a kind of art, notwithstanding our disregard for them.
Pakistan also has a good stock of them everywhere, but unfortunately Pakistan too, like individuals has a tendency to not value such linchpin people more than their 10C value.
The cynical Hasan Nisar may often sound bitter and irritatingly negative, but what he sometimes says often makes sense. He asks a bold question, “Why are we in such a state of chaos and disorder which almost borders on destruction?” He answers it himself by asking many a more rhetoric question. “Are we born with one eye? Has God now begun giving Muslims a comparatively smaller brain than what He gives to the people of the West in routine?…Certainly not. Our problem is centered not in the brain as much as it is couched in our digestive system. Somehow we are not able to digest three blessings of God, namely, ”Fame”, “Money and “Power”. Add religion as well to the list. The combination of these four becomes a deadly mix for us… it is a common sight to spot a “Do takaykashakhsh” driving a two-million dollar car”.A two-penny worth man driving a two crore car.
“Maang-ni-walaGadahai- sadqamangayyakharaj… Koi maninamani, mero sultan sub gada” Iqbal “The one who gets addicted to begging is a beggar; whether he gets charity or ransom… One may believe it or not, the fact is , that all the rich and the sultans are beggars”.
In the Solomon Island, the myth is, people do not cut a sick tree. They just get around it and begin to curse it together incessantly. In a few days, the tree dies automatically. Yes. Negative thinking is toxic, and its lethal impact is that it retards growth-spiritual as well as physical and economic.
It removes the linchpin and it lets the huge whirling wheel of the country or institutions come off the axle of the nation, and lets it ruin all that had been built. Often the blame gets fixed on a few clichés; it is all due to lack of vision; loss of purpose; abuse of power; corruption, poverty; misrepresentation and interpretation of religion; lack of education and then finally due to years of military rule and clueless and rudderless leadership. But the big question often remains un- asked, “Did it happen overnight?” Was it that one fine morning in Pakistan the people woke up from their deep slumber, and found these evils, lying in waiting to enwrap them, and engulf them. The multiple evils that have afflicted the people, and that have furnished a very apt theme- subject to the politicians’ rhetoric, did not take place overnight. It is the earning of our own hands. Psychologists classify it as, “laziness”. Evils never got curbed on time and in a prompt manner. People do not develop blood pressure over night; nor do they build up high cholesterol in one week. It is the sustained impact of their life-style. We live in a country in which too much emphasis is on eating, and so little is on the by-product and after effects of this habit- be it cleanliness or diseases.
Debbie Ford in her book, “The Right Questions”, underpins another answer to such a state. “Our todays are based on the choices we made yesterday, and the ones we made three days ago, three months ago and three years ago. We don’t wind up fifty thousand dollars in debt because of one choice. We don’t put on thirty unwanted pounds as a result of a couple of poor choices, and our relationships, especially with spouses, usually don’t fall apart overnight because of one hectic argument. We are where we are because of repeated unconscious or unhealthy choices that we’ve made day after day after day that add up to the reality we find ourselves in.”
Our biggest problem is that we never make good choices- be it the selection of subjects in college or the life partner; or the job; or the business; or the company of friends; or the healthy habits; even the clothes and their color; the political parties we vote for and their leaders.
We have been unjust to ourselves throughout our lives in small and big matters, how can, then, the result be different. Why do we keep doing so for years and years? Partially the answer has been supplied above, our basic trait of laziness.
As one writer puts it. Adam and Eve, after all, were there to stroll leisurely in Jannat when they were restricted from eating just one kind of fruit. Allah had been there all the time, with them and around them. The question is why did they not, most respectfully, ask Allah, as just later Moses (a), Abraham (a) and many other Prophets asked Allah, questions for information and for knowledge, and for better understanding, without disobeying Allah. Was it a question of inherent laziness that often characterizes humans?. Most probably, it was. After all, a human baby takes one year to just stand up shakily , and two years to utter some words coherently. Animals do all this in minutes after the birth. And add to it the element of fear and our free-will. One begins to supplement the other, resulting in the state we are. And then we engage ourselves in the favorite game of inventing excuses in order to shift the blame on others. Avoidance of responsibility tantamount to avoid being human.
That billions of dollars of loan that Pakistan has accrued to the World Bank and to the IMF did not accumulate in one day; that level of rampant corruption in which Pakistan is entrenched did not take place in a week; that level of violence and terrorism that had taken out the very soul of people did not visit Pakistan like a wind storm at some particular night; that institutional failure witnessed by the world in which it is a common sight to see the patients kicking and killing the doctors; the attorneys thrashing the judges in the courts; the criminals butchering the policemen (three DSP’s killed in six weeks in Karachi); the students manhandling the teachers in the class rooms; all this did not happen in one month, or even in one year. Cholesterol does not accumulate in the arteries by eating one good hearty meal; we do not become sinners by committing one sin; nor do we become chronic liars by lying once. It is the supervision and patronage of evil ways that has let all this happen.
In short, it will not be wrong to say that Pakistan is afflicted with what the scholars’ call, “The Othello Error”. This term points towards a deeper problem: it happens so when the honest and good people, expected to rise and resist, even they too begin to act as nervous liars. Why did Othello indulge in that motiveless cruelty in which he first kills his own love, Desdimona, and then himself? Why does he destroy everything that he had accomplished by dint of his character and courage? These questions often haunt me? Religion Islam says, Allah just seals off the hearts and lets the Fly-wheel momentum take its course.
Kelly M. McMann in her new book, “Corruption as a Last Resort…” perhaps is right when she says, “Economic development specialists used to consider corruption to be a secondary issue. Now, they see it as not merely a factor in dysfunctional economies but also a potential source of extremist violence and terrorism” “Petty corruption” in the form of small bribes, favors, and paid-for votes offered by the average person to get a modest loan, a job or money for food, housing or health care… ordinary people engage in corruption only as a “last resort” because they have lost alternative sources of support. When the head gets rotten, body automatically gets paralyzed. So corruption for most of the poor, working class people has become a compulsive imperative, a last resort. In such a situation, like water, food and air, corruption too has become the basic element of survival. For the rich and the powerful, it is the Panama leak that provides a hint how the super- rich survive in Pakistan.