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Welcome to stress-free land

The secondary school certificate exam was to begin at 10am on that day. At the same hour, the chief executive of the country was to land at the airport after her official state level tour to the climate summit. Three days before that, a portion of the bridge on the way to Tongi broke down, and commute on that road came to a standstill.
This was how I began my day.
A piece of news added spice to my day. The Jubo League of Tanore, Abdul Wahab, leader in Rajshahi, has reportedly destroyed 62 varieties of paddy on a land where researcher Nur Mohammad was lab-testing on paddy species for the last 10 years. The followers of Abdul Wahab have also man-handled Nur Mohammad.
The Jubo League leader reportedly said he wanted to display his worth and teach a lesson to the researcher.
The above scenario may not be new in our country and we all have accepted the fact that our leaders treat us like herds of animals. A strange sense of psychological breathlessness had engulfed my entity and I felt imprisoned in a penitentiary of obstacles.
Individually, I have my own mechanism for freeing myself from all kinds of stress that I accumulate from my own actions and my surroundings. The first thing I do every morning is tell myself: “Ekram, you are a happy man; you are content with what you have and you don’t require more than this in order to lead a decent life.”
This affirmation sets my day and I find myself quite satisfied at the end of it, in terms of my contribution to my workplace as well as my family.
I also stay away from an overload of news, as I feel the media — knowingly or unknowingly — contributes a mammoth chunk in raising my stress level. But, you see, what would the media do? It is a mirror held up against our society; it delivers what happens around us.
Allow me to provide two examples of headlines that I noticed recently. They involve two very important persons shouldering very important responsibilities. Our home minister has said in a programme at a girls’ college that the government will take legal actions if anyone charges extra bus fare.
The media was also there. He uttered this statement in response to the queries of the news reporters.
I have a few questions related to this piece of news. Why has the news item not mentioned the subject of the programme that the minister was attending? Why did the journalists ask him questions that were not relevant to the programme? And why would he respond to the question that has no link to the programme? Why did he not give an example of any legal action that has been taken in such circumstances?
Our digital minister, reportedly, posted a status on his Facebook profile, saying that he was surprised to see so many pro-Pakistanis on his friends list.
My first question is: Why would the news media file a report quoting a Facebook status? Why haven’t they given the details after speaking to the minister? Why isn’t our digital minister well informed about social media? It seemed that he experienced social media for the first time in his life!
I cite these two examples because I found them quite funny, but I didn’t enjoy them; rather, they evoked stress in me.
You might say I am over-reacting to the incidents that millions have accepted as normal. Maybe. Yes, we have accepted many illogical aspects of life as normal.
Sitting for hours in traffic is normal; the law enforcers’ failure to prevent diesel-smuggling is normal; our failure to de-narcotize the society is normal; the mind-boggling increase in transport fares is normal; the increase in living cost without a hike in individual income is normal; relentless bribery on each and every step is normal; destroying the ecology of the country is normal.
Aye, dear readers — everything is normal on our land and we must put up smiles on our faces and post selfies on social media.
No; this is not at all normal. Our minds experience a great deal of psychological problems due to these unfathomable abnormal aspects which our leaders may not understand. They do not design their actions keeping the people’s mental state in mind.
Their statements, as unplanned as they are, don’t also work as stress-busters for us. They could at least pacify our minds by saying nice words to us. But they don’t do so. They don’t have any clue how stressed out we are at the end of the day — at every step of our lives.
This is where, I believe, we should observe a stress-free day on a national level. On this day, all individuals and stress-generators, not just our leaders, would look at themselves and reflect on how each and every one of us cause stress for others. The leaders would say sweet and loving words on that day.
Outlandish and funny it may seem, but trust me, it would pacify the people, and it would be easier for our leaders to govern and rule us for another year.
First published in Dhaka Tribune on 20 November 2021.

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