Talking less, talking sense
GEORGE Bush Jr. has been one of the most unpopular US presidents. However, what has caught attention of many is his restrained and sober conduct since he left the White House. In his first public comments after leaving office, Bush stated that it was "critical" that Obama succeeded. When asked to comment about Obama, he said that Obama deserved "his silence."
The point is that even Bush knows when to be "silent." Alas! Look at some of our politicians and intellectuals dishing out words at every opportunity, no matter whether the nation either desires or deserves them. As if "words are always bold" and "silence can never be gold."
The commerce minister continues to reveal something new almost every day to anyone who holds a microphone in front of him. He has a service record from a disciplined force and was known for his sensible comments during tenure of the CTG. Hence, when someone like him starts talking so randomly, it raises more questions than it answers. When some of his cabinet colleagues are saying that we should not pay heed to rumours, he himself has become a source of rumours.
In the early hours of the BDR mutiny, the electronic media became quite insensitive to what is known as "the other side of the story." When popular TV anchors were scuffling with each other to record the comments of the mutineers on how the army has deprived and exploited them, none of them bothered to say: "We are yet to have comments on this issue from the army."
In TV talk-shows, some intellectuals and politicians could not wait to voice their opinions without realising that a national crisis of such a magnitude required calm, composure, and sensible behaviour from everyone. When most of the people were shocked by this unprecedented mutiny, it was the duty of the opinion leaders to talk less and understand more before speaking publicly.
When the full picture started emerging, the same people appeared in the media again and cried their hearts out for the army officers and vilified the BDR. In their desperation to recover lost ground, they don't realise that the people are more sensible than they think, and have better judgment.
Exercising a little discretion while talking in the early hours when people were more confused than informed, and then making matured observations later when things started surfacing more clearly, would have helped everybody. The lesson -- please talk less and talk sense so that you don't have to scramble later to recover lost ground.
During meeting of the PM with army officers after the mutiny, it came out that one of the major causes of the anger and frustration of the army was the loose talk of some politicians and intellectuals, as well as the imprudent journalism that many had indulged in during the mutiny. The PM had to bear the brunt of the immature behaviour of some of her colleagues and party intellectuals, and she showed praiseworthy patience in handling the situation.
The same sagacity was shown by the agriculture minister when she recently commented that it was better for ministers to speak less and work more as the opposition was there to the talking. The law minister also has shown sensibility in his comments on the mutiny.
The bottom line is that we Bangladeshis love to talk. Talking may always help some -- like mobile phone operators -- but in most instances, it invites undue trouble. In a recent round table discussion with leading South Korean intellectuals, one of the Korean professors remarked: "You Bangladeshis have lot of talent, and ideas but why do you have to talk so much? Please do and show."
The visiting professor indeed captured well one of the major weaknesses we have in a land where at times there are too many advisers and not as many doers. When the balance shifts, we as a nation will move at a much faster pace than we have been able to do so far. Let's talk less and work more.
Syed Munir Khasru is a Professor at the Institute of Business Administration, University of Dhaka.