Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Tuesday, March 31st, 2020

Countering the Culture of Violence and Intolerance


Countering the Culture of Violence and Intolerance

Afghanistan and Kabul have become living examples of how militants can strike at their own will, kill and main thousands of innocent Afghans guilty of nothing but going after their daily lives, destroy public property built with sweat and blood of the same people and in the end claim the moral victory. In the process, they seek and manage to impose a perpetual state of fear amongst common people and sow the seeds of their ruthless terror in the hearts and minds of the denizens.

The routine of attacks by militants, whether the Taliban or their like-minded brethren, amount to a mockery of the state and the government and the people and their popular will to leave in peace and harmony. The attacks and bombings are also a ridicule of the sovereignty of the state of Afghanistan,repeating day in day out and eroding the very pillars of the people's trust and the state's vitality. The best the government and the people have been able to do has been to offer condolences and wait for the next to take another toll of human life.

Over the last few years, the spate of bombings and massacres has undergone an unprecedented surge and become more blatant and violent than before. Sadly enough, it seems that every attack has chipped away into the resolve of the state and the government to counter the viciousness of the marauding barbarians. Violence and intolerance is the principal message of the militants. Every attack by the militants is a sour reminder of how violence and intolerance have seeped into the fabric of our society and malign the soul of our collective being.

However,on an introspective note and after doing some soul searching, it dawns to one that the problems that our society faces are not limited to Taliban and their brethren, although vicious as they are and bent on inflicting death and destruction. The root cause of the ills of our society is not them,who take up arms and practice violence, but thebase of our ills is the rampant culture of violence and intolerance that has unfortunately been a legacy of decades of conflict and civil strife. The quandary of violence and intolerance in our society, unfortunately, is significant; it drives the Taliban to practice violence and itcontinues to simmer much like fire under ash andrears its ugly head time and again.

Yes, the Taliban, with all their savagery,qualify to be only the symptoms of this dangerous disease of violence that affects our collective being. What has afflicted our society and country for the past many decades and, unfortunately, continues to bleed us isviolence, extremism and intolerance. Taliban and countless others who practice violence are mere symptoms.In our country, solving a problem, whether political, familial or social, through violence and the barrel of gun has for some time been commonplace.

Examples abound; the feuding families who, a few weeks ago, mercilessly massacred each other in a dispute over a cow or a calf; or the rockets that were fired and the bloods that were spilled over some pieces of land in Kabul a few days ago; or hundreds of our students of higher education on government scholarships in a foreign country, who otherwise should be noble representatives of our country abroad, turning on each others' throats for the simple reason of them speaking two different languages; are allsome of the unfortunate examples of how a culture of violence runs rampant. The salvation of Afghanistan and our people, in part, lies in annihilating this culture of violence.If we genuinely wish to put an end to the madness of Taliban's violence, the best and the surest way, of course, would be to take effective steps towards combating this culture of violence and intolerance.

The fact is that today, not only do we have to find much greater will to fight this rampant culture ofviolenceand extremism on the part of our government and the state, civil society, and people of all hues and walks of life, but, in its stead,we also have to gradually build an omnipresent culture of non-violence and tolerance. Such is the acute necessity to detoxify our society and polity from violence and extremism that without that, the phenomenon of Taliban will become a recurring theme in our society and polity.

The fact is that controlling and dealing with violence, intolerance and militancy in our society should not be only the business of our police and the army and the government. Taking a solely militaristic approach to the pressing issues of violence and intolerance would only suppress the symptoms – the Taliban and the like – but would do little to address the root causes of the problems.

Cleansing our society and polity, and on a personal level, our hearts and minds from the evil scourge of violence and intolerance and building a culture of non-violence and tolerance take the individual and collective efforts of "we the people" and the government and other institutions that are created and mandated by "we the people". Civil society and grass-roots people movements aimed at creating awareness and public education on non-violence and tolerance should be encouraged and go hand in hand with the efforts of the government to promote clean and tolerant politics at the national level.

In sum, we have to make our society move towards greater tolerance of one another. Non-violence, tolerance and a pluralist polity and society would be possible only when we, as a nation, learn to resort to dialogue, negotiation and a healthy culture of debate and discourse instead of rejecting one another and rushing to embrace violence. The current crisis engulfing the country and involving the Parliament and the government is a testimony to the fact that, so far, we have learnt little in the way of dialogue and negotiation.

This paradigm of non-violence should, of course, transcend all strata and layers of our society; from households and families to communities and to our national politics.Interestingly, perhaps, the dysfunctional state of our present-time national politics is mirrored in the way our families and households are run. When many of our families and households are mired in domestic violence with family men brutalizing the family's women, then, by the same token, we cannot expect our national-level politics to be clean of violence and intolerance.

After all and as the saying goes, every family is a miniaturized version of the society from which that family comes. This means that the drive to detoxify our present society from the discourse of violence should also include our families and households throughout our country; more so when the men of tomorrow are born out of the families of today.

The author is the permanent writer of the Daily Outlook Afghanistan. He can be reached at outlook afghanistan@gmail.com

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