Wednesday, January 19, 2011

There is a Light that Never Goes Out: Governor Salmaan Taseer

I learnt something very important and damning in the past few days. The mind, I am now convinced, can never question the heart. The incredible weakness of poor logic can never be a match for the ignited machismo of old fashioned heart induced emotion. It is a war of two fronts that will always go to the heart. Our mind is only the puppet leader. We need to accept this reality. In actuality, we are but slaves to the whims of our own hearts. And it is because of this that we will always fall short. My heart will be the death of you. And your heart will be the death of me. Today, an emotionally charged, logic absent heart has created so much anger in me, that my own logic has been thrown out of the window and emotion has taken over. I have lost the capacity to want to think. All it took was one man. That is how weak logic is. I am an angry man today. I have every right to be. I don’t give a damn about your feelings, because my feelings are more important. That’s the beauty of emotion without logic. Now deal with it.

We lost so much more than a governor last week. We permanently lost bits of our personality to the rage. We lost pieces of humanity. We lost chunks of conscience. We lost doses of shame. We lost liters of decency. But most importantly, we lost the fact that we don’t even value the concept of individual life. We lost someone’s father. We lost someone’s husband. Do you understand? The simple fact that we have to talk this man up to such a height in order to feel the pain of his death is proof of our skin thickening by the day. The heroic efforts of Mr. Taseer will not go unnoticed by me, nor have they ever, but when did we decide that only the death of heroism should be mourned? Someone’s father was ruthlessly and shamelessly killed. By people hired to protect him. That is enough for me.

In my previous blog, before the horrific tragedy of Mr. Taseer’s death, I wrote about the case of Aasia Bibi. In bone chilling accuracy, the exact words I wrote in that article were, ‘We kill. Do you understand? We kill. We have sick people amongst us. Fear us, for we will attack without prejudice and we won't even have the conscience to repent. It is amongst our most reliable qualities.’ I wish I was wrong. More than ever, in the case of Mr. Taseer, I truly wish I was wrong. And yet, the irony of the loss of such a strong man to such a cowardice act is, that I am not surprised. After all, insanity knows no ends.

Mr. Taseers great efforts and determination to improve the lives of the people he spoke for is well documented and needs no further qualifying. His legacy is for all to see. You cannot erase facts. The humility of his success will stand the tests of time. He did what he could with the tools he had, and in the time given to him. And he did a damn good job. And in the days after his death, the final evidence of how great a man he was, was proven by the incredibly balanced and loving responses from his family. They responded to the cold blooded and mindless snatching of their father with a type of refined maturity that can only be coveted at best. I salute the strength of their logic and its control over their heart in a land where it is in major shortage.

Where do we go from here? What is the right thing to do? Have we become the monsters in the dark? Have we lost the plot? I don’t know. I just don’t know. But I do know that a good man died because he had optimism in the rest of us. And as the potency of my own sanity pierces through my emotion, albeit temporarily, I realize that in fact, there is an entire army of Salmaan Taseers all around me. There are great people all around us. There are people who want to laugh, to live out loud, to dance all night, to dream all day, to hold out their hand, to offer their shoulder, to offer their plate, and to walk hand in hand. There are people who will call a spade a spade and will never bow to ignorance. There are people who Mr. Taseer would have been proud to have his arm around, and vice versa. And while the scream of ignorance might be louder than the tune of conscience, the tune will always continue to ring.

I cannot imagine living in a place where I have to be scared of my own common sense. And yet, there are forces who are trying to do that to me. Mr. Taseer died protecting me from that force. I will not forget. I will never forget. I had an interesting conversation with a dear friend about the fact that we will never forget Mr. Taseer’s stance for a tolerant, fair, and modern society. He made the point that after a few days, we will forget and just go back to our daily lives of partying, socializing, having fun, and moving on. I replied that the very best way to attack such a deadly force is by doing exactly that. Our job is to live our life to the fullest. The best way to attack this mindless ignorance is by enjoying the hell out of our lives. It will irritate the life out of these fools. I say it again: if you truly want to fight the ignorance we are facing today, life your life as if nothing happened to change it. Work, study, dance, sing, love, laugh, eat, drink, play, create, innovate, and think. Think. Always, always, think. Nothing will piss them off more.