Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Wednesday, December 13th, 2017

Nostalgia for Cultural Values

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Nostalgia for Cultural Values

Afghanistan has a rich culture and glorious history. To keep its cultural values intact, Afghan nation made a lot of sacrifices. A number of great scholars and poets grew up in the heart of Afghanistan’s Islamic culture. The ancient monuments and soulful local music reflect the country’s valuable culture. However, bloody wars imposed on Afghan nation throughout the history led to irreparable harm.
Afghans’ cultural values stem from Islamic tenets and virtue. For instance, practicing religious tenets was a serious dilemma for Afghan people. In the past, the graph of moral corruption, death and immoral practices were very low. Men and women sought to practice their religion in a peaceful environment and the air was filled with the spirit of peace and brotherhood. They upheld humanity and moral standard. People respected the rights of one another in the best possible way. They treated one another very kindly and were tolerant towards one another. Neighbors were deemed as members of family and supported one another in case of facing any problems.
In the past, people were far more generous and hospitable than the present. Guests were considered the blessing of God and served in the most generous way. People welcomed guests with open arm and provided them food and shelter freely although this tradition still prevails in villages to some extent. This custom was part of culture across the country.
Local music performed with traditional instruments unraveled the pain and sufferings of locals, the soulful sentiment of lovers, and the loneliness of poets rather than appetite for sex. Lovers were shy as a result of virtue but still dared convey their message perhaps through writing on a piece of paper or dictating a child to convey their message to their beloved. Unlike the false lovers in movies or in modern world, they were true lovers and would do everything in their power for their beloved. If one’s love was proved abortive, they would reveal their profound pain through music and poem. No one ever dared be in touch with many girls just for pleasure. The idea of “boyfriend” or “girlfriend” did not exist in one’s mind. Our culture originated in pure virtue and religious values.
Afghan nation paid heavy casualties to protect their cultural values and social norm. For example, they fought bloody battles with heroism and bravery against invaders to safeguard their culture from erosion. The unique bravery of Afghan people is praised by history. They sought to save their culture at the cost of their lives and blood. Afghans would tolerate if their brothers’ blood was shed for safeguarding the cultural values but would never ever tolerate if their sisters’ hijab (Islamic clothing) was at stake. The nostalgia for the past is strongly felt among the old. Now they are highly dissatisfied with the clothing of their granddaughters and deem it against the Afghan culture.
There are many factors paving the ground for cultural erosion. The hegemony of movies and serials is beyond doubt. The younger generation who pass their time mostly in watching movies are vulnerable to non-Afghan culture. A large number of Afghan youths, including men and women, are dressing in western style. After all, our singers show keen interest in western music like pop, rock, etc. struggling to change this type of music into a culture in Afghanistan.
Second, the decades of war and violence targeted not only individuals but also cultural values and historical infrastructures. Armed invasion, sectarian violence and civil unrest undermined the moral standards and cultural norms of Afghan people. Suffering from oppression and violence, people had no time to uphold their culture. The carnage and casualties affected them mentally and emotionally and changed their kind characters into violent ones. They were filled with strong sense of revenge and animosity as a result of cruel practices of those involved in war. Take the Taliban, for example. They killed people on the grounds of their race, color and creed. The Taliban’s ethnocentric orientation stoked sectarianism and spread hatred. They blemished culture through their violent practices. Moreover, they also destroyed the Buddha statues in Bamyan province, which was an irreparable damage to our culture.
Afghan culture is vulnerable to foreign cultures which are being spread through movies, serials and fashion shows since the younger generation succumb to their charm and attraction regardless of Afghanistan’s moral norm and cultural values. The way of people’s dressing today is highly different from the past. The past modesty and chastity remain no more than nostalgia. Moral corruption, violent and anti-religious practices, and unkind treatment are widespread, which is a great cause for concern. Do you not think that religious institutions, clergy and the media are responsible to safeguard cultural values? The banality of foreign serials will certainly spoil the morality of our younger generation and invade our culture.

Hujjatullah Zia is the permanent writer of the Daily Outlook Afghanistan. He can be reached at zia_hujjat@yahoo.com

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