By: Syed Maaz Asad
Karachi: Our society is very deeply entrenched in social dogmas that have been passed down from generation to generation. Finally, our generation has started to question these beliefs and traditions passed down to us.
The credit goes to media and technology that has brought the world closer. We are now more aware about the norms in our society and culture of other societies as well. To an extent that we have started to export culture from across of the world, whether from the East or the West, Good or bad. It has influenced us majorly.
Whatever the cause of this awakening is, it has led us to raise a lot of questions against these societal dogmas, which have been causing a lot of distortions in the society. And now these barricades have started to weaken, as our younger generation gives lesser and lesser importance to it – A Good Sign. I personally think the most critical, and also the one facing most resistance, social dogma that needs to be thrown away is our favorite adage “Beta LOOG KIA KAHEINGEY?” (WHAT WILL THE OTHERS SAY?).
This has evidently become such an essential and all encompassing phrase of our lives which destroyed us. Ruined lives, careers, killed creativity, shattered spirits and reduced people to a shell of what they could have been. Ironically, the funny yet upsetting part is, most of us still fail to realize how devastating it can be.
I will share an anecdote from my own personal experience about how I faced this similar issue of WHAT WILL THE OTHERS SAY. As a young child growing up, I was always fascinated by the detective storybooks, and read Sherlock Holmes, Hardy boys and many others. As a result I wanted to be a detective myself. Whenever somebody would ask me, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” I would always reply saying, “A detective, so I can catch criminals”. I was too young to understand that why everybody I met, would laugh at me, for this reply. But as I grew older and finally understood the reason for all the laughter, I became more of conformist in my responses and toned down my dream for being a detective. I can still recall very vividly, the moment of realization, when I finally learnt that the people were actually ridiculing my ambition of becoming a detective by laughing at me derisively. And I asked myself, what was wrong in it. It was my life, and whatever I wanted to be, was my problem and no one else’s headache. Frankly even after all these years, I am yet to come up with a suitable answer for that very question.
Fortunately for me, I was and have always been a very thick-skinned individual. I come up with my own ideas and thoughts after analyzing things and then stick with them. People, ridiculing and making fun, have no effect on me, and I just laugh at them for mocking me. I was blessed with parents, who understood this and therefore, encouraged me and gave me the confidence to take my decisions and make the choices for myself. But never did they stop guiding me, where I could go wrong.
I have seen this very issue, breaking families, since parents refuse to accept the marriage proposal on just the grounds that WHAT WILL THE PEOPLE SAY, while everything else is acceptable for them. Killing the motivation of the child, when he says I want to be something, and the parents force them to be something else, just to correspond to the idea of WHAT WILL THE PEOPLE SAY.
Jean Jacques Rousseau, a French Revolution philosopher said at that time, “Man is born free, but everywhere he is in chains”. This applies so aptly to the issue, I have addressed. It is present in almost every segment of our society. Let’s break this social dogma, so our children will not have to worry about WHAT WILL THE OTHER PEOPLE SAY.
The author is a marketing professional who manages the Online and Digital Marketing for an export company. He is currently doing his Masters from IoBM.