When you have to start with a 'no' | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, February 03, 2017 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:45 AM, February 03, 2017

When you have to start with a 'no'

No apol-ogy when one is due would reflect my insensitivity. The excuse for my unusually long voluntary hiatus is that the media the world over, over the past couple of months or more, was dominated by one topic. As every columnist worth his lines and reporter true to his beat as well as radio and TV commentators from all shades and light chose to highlight or heckle him, and the social network too was rising in full throttle to the occasion, I was compelled to mental hibernation in wonderment, perplexity, shock and sorrow.

No 'apprentice' in such public gaze defied practically the entire media and a multitude of now-proven erroneous opinion polls to wade across a sea of strewn tomatoes, riding on a wave of populist undercurrent to get himself (and some say his family) the job he most coveted. That is because the businessman in the tycoon knew where his votes lay in waiting, and which chord to pull to strum the perfect melody for a listening mass that remained unheard in an apparently rosy system.

No president of the United States or in fact any other elected head of state anywhere has had to take office under such a grim blanket of uncertainty regarding allies (NATO) and neighbours (Mexcio), promises (a Muslim ban) and rhetoric (IS cleansing). Under normal circumstances, we accuse elected leaders of not keeping their election pledges, and here they are on the street across states protesting against a man going by his word.

No experience of public office is required for one of the most important offices that can impact every nook and corner of the world, as well as the outer space. Bizarrely though, senate clearance on qualification, experience and morality is necessary for all senior appointees to the federal government, who are proposed by the political greenhorn. After such rigorous tooth-picking and despite the prolific faculty of the chosen officers, his word is the final say. It does appear strange, but then who said democracy was without its frivolling follies? For the sake of planet earth, I hope they each advise him in the background.

No wall has ever been built by one and paid for by another. Even in Kochukhet, in Dhaka, two neighbours equally share the cost of a common boundary wall. Despite such barricades, there have been numerous affairs, acrimonious as well as harmonious, some resulting in lasting wedlock. No wall can keep away a determined people who have centuries of experience of scaling one to reach their destination for love and labour. By the way, I am a big fan of the Mexcian football team.

No ban or persecution based on religion is acceptable in today's world. Whilst there are various ongoing efforts to integrate different religious groups through dialogue, interfaith seminars and peace programmes, the travel ban based on faith (albeit on seven Muslim-dominant countries) was one pledge badly misjudged. A vast majority of the American people from both sides of the political divide have been protesting vigorously online and in person for singling out Muslims. Much of the world community has reacted negatively to such religious discrimination.

No US president has had the discomfiture of nearly two million UK citizens backing the petition 'Prevent Donald Trump from making State Visit to the United Kingdom' on the UK Parliament website. This protest has the connotation of leading to a severe breakdown in relationships, considering that the countries are the two most avowed allies. And, yes, over a million have also signed in favour of the visit to go ahead. People of the world within their political boundaries are becoming increasingly divided on issues which are not necessarily about good and bad, or wrong and right, rather between them and us.

No president in the history of democracy with such a huge margin of electorate college votes has ever had to confront protests of the magnitude seen nationally and globally so early in office. We must reflect on the fact that in a free and fair election, one gets elected because he is the most popular, and things don't have to change in the first week or fortnight.

No chief executive of a western democratic state has had to fire a senior office-bearer within the first ten days of his oath. Not the president's fault really. The Acting Attorney General, a holdover from the Obama Administration, was sacked for ordering government attorneys not to defend the president's executive order of banning refugees and immigrants from the seven listed Muslim countries. She made her point bravely, breaking the rules one may argue too, but that sort of rebellious demeanour was evidently not taken well by the administration.

No one perhaps ever imagined, least of all me, that one day I would succumb to admit that "politics is best left to the politicians". It still feels weird to eat one's hat. “Imagine no possessions. I wonder if you can. No need for greed or hunger, a brotherhood of man. Imagine all the people sharing all the world... You...You may say I'm a dreamer. But I'm not the only one. I hope someday you'll join us. And the world will live as one”. From John Lennon's 1971 ballad, we have come a long way, and yes, some have lost their way.


The writer is a practising Architect at BashaBari Ltd., a Commonwealth Scholar and Fellow, a Baden-Powell Fellow Scout Leader, and a Major Donor Rotarian.

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