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Valuing humans and their security

When I first visited England, I was greatly impressed by one of the aspects of their life. I had noticed, in my first few days of landing there, that a wheelchair-rider, sitting on his/her chair, could travel from one corner of the country to another, absolutely, without facing any obstacle.
The entire transport system as well as the architecture are designed in such a fashion that even a physically challenged person doesn’t face any problem in commuting.
My conclusion was that no one was physically unsafe in that country.
Now, if I try to read their minds, I realize that someone, or a few minds, must have thought about it — to make their land safe for the citizens. And they must have had a plan to implement. And they did.
Naturally, I thought about my own country and the state of humans’ physical security and safety. My heart bleeds when I think about the condition that we live in here. The physical security of the people, perhaps, is the last subject on our minds.
I’ll come to direct physical threats a little later, and before that I have a few words to say about the physical danger we face through our health when it comes to our food. When I was a child more than fifty years ago, adulteration of food was rampant. Our parents were ultra-careful about buying any food that may contain adulterants.
At the age of fifty as a nation, what has changed? As I grew up, I saw reports of food adulteration occupying the pages of newspapers more than they did five decades ago. As far as we are concerned, we adulterate almost everything. If you run tests on living livestock, you’ll find chemicals that are deadly for the human body.
We hear there are laws to prevent these crimes, but those are not working for us.
Now, let us come to our roads where our vehicles are driven on. It’s been so many years that we have been experiencing unwanted deaths due to our thoughtless driving. A comparison between the human fatalities in a war-torn country and the deaths in road accidents in Bangladesh would be an interesting study.
You must have noticed hundreds of “dangerous turn ahead” signs on our national highways. Why are they there? What purpose do they serve? Who reads them? And the final question is: Why are there so many dangerous turns in the road network? What were the planners doing when they were building the roads? It looks like they were convinced that the curves and turns would be helpful and safe for the commuters.
Mockery.
How many people get drowned in the rivers and ponds in a year? Why do they die? Oh, I see; it was their fault to die. They didn’t act sensibly; they didn’t learn how to swim; they were travelling on faulty boats and ferries; maybe they didn’t listen to the weather warning.
It’s the citizens who are at fault.
It’s like blaming a victim after s/he is violated. That is such a great way to ensure safety and security for the people.
“Let’s appeal to all our women to stay inside their houses so that they don’t get raped by the heinous criminals out there.” Why is the physical security of the country’s women at stake in a seemingly religious society? Our religion guides us not to harm anybody! Does that mean religious philosophies are not working for us?
Maybe the law can. Great! But wait; we have all the laws in place. We should be happy that we have laws. Consider yourselves a lucky lot. What’s preventing the law enforcers from implementing the laws? The entire traffic system of the country is a sunny example of lawlessness and we’re happy thinking that we have all the laws.
Indeed, a happy lot. We consider the fatalities due to the lack of proper planning and the lack of implementing the laws as an act of God — a normal course of nature. Deaths are normal to us.
If you look around the capital city of the country, it looks like suddenly all the real estate developers are on the run to “develop” the city, thereby leading to an air quality harmful for humans.
We’d be happy if the story stopped here. It doesn’t.
We send real estate workers high up on a 20th floor construction site without any safety gear. If the worker falls from that height, our media would publish a tiny report. And we’d be happy to think that his death was written by God. Maybe, we’d also pray for him, saying RIP.
If I carefully assess the condition that we live in, I become horrified; we live like captives in an atmosphere that is very unfriendly for our physical survival. Too many unsafe elements all around, and no one seems to be bothered about it. As if life will go on like this for eternity.
This happens when we don’t have the psychology to value humans and their lives. It happens in a greed-driven society — a society that only cares for financial growth without considering the consequences of that wealth on human lives.
True. If the number of humans declines it would be great! Good for GDP! We become wealthier.
But mind you, this thoughtless progress is also eating us up from within, devoid of human values. The loss may cocoon us in a state of no return.
First published in Dhaka Tribune on 28 August 2021.
Ekram Kabir is a story-teller, a yogi and a communications professional. He is just an email away: ekabir@gmail.com.

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