Scores of people have died in the past few days because of the present political crisis. We've seen one of our most successful and compliant garments enterprises turn to ashes. Miscreants have even turned to the railroads now, which was the last safe medium of transportation. In all, the common people of this country are frustrated, angered, disappointed, maimed and burned. A large number of these people are angered and disappointed not only at the responsible parties and authorities, but also with themselves for letting this progress so far and for being so helpless.
While a lot in this country has remained almost stagnant and the roads of Dhaka bear a lot less now, a lot has also moved on because the world can't afford to stop and wait for us. Dhaka hosted two major festivals recently -- Hay Festival and Bengal Classical Music Festival, both of which complied with impressive standards. The world of entertainment was also hit by the death of a very famous actor, Paul Walker, who is known to many for being a part of the “Fast and the Furious” franchise.
While hundreds of Paul Walker fans took to their Facebook and Twitter accounts with disbelief and grief, many also bombarded this vortex of messages with disapproval and condescension. To many, it seemed ridiculous and insensitive to mourn a celebrity's death while scores of casualties continued to be scattered around the country. Many were almost extreme in their disapproval, insulting these mourners or publicly assuming that the latter don't care about their countrymen.
Walker might not have been a harbinger of peace or a Nobel laureate (as many have cared to point it out multiple times) and even might have been unknown and unimportant to many, but for millions around the world he has been a figure worth admiring and following. He was part of a franchise that affected the global audience. Just like the world cried after the premature death of actor Heath Ledger, so it does now for Walker. Had his death occurred at a different time, wouldn't this mourning be justified? Then, why not now?
“I think everyone is well within their rights to mourn Paul. I personally held him as an inspiration, and many car geeks and people in the automotive world recognise the impact he had. What I don't get is how some people can equate mourning his death to not giving a damn about the country's present political situation. Just because I mourn the death of a celebrity I personally looked up to, doesn't mean I am not aware or do not care about the violence racking the country right now,” says Shaer Reaz, 21.
Why should any life be more or less important than another life, when both of them are ended by undeserved tragedies? People mourn for those whom they were attached to. At the same time, people also despair at the misfortunes of strangers. We grieve for the people dying in building collapses or foreign wars. Our shared interests and identities as human beings is what keeps this globalised planet connected and has made the internet so successful. Why should one be condemned for mourning a death publicly? Grief is not an emotion that can, or should, be restricted or limited by nationalities or other such common denominators.
In any case, all the back and forth rhetoric about this matter equates to nothing much substantial -- putting up a status voicing your concern about the country's turmoil does nothing to solve it. It's a medium for sharing your thoughts with the wider world and it's not a sin to not be continuously thinking about the country's tragic state every second of the day, particularly considering the fact that we are, indeed, powerless in the face of the mindless violence.
“People are and shall always be entitled to their opinions. I frankly don't have any issue with people being united about a certain opinion as long as it has no malicious intent,” says Shahnoor Rabbani.
While our infinite power of self-expression has made the internet a haven for us, readily accepting our brooding thoughts to be staged on digital platforms without any censorship, we have forgotten to know where to stop when it comes to imposing on others' opinions or even offending them.
ILLUSTRATION: ZOHEB MASHIUR