The Sins of Double Standards
8/30/2004 - Political Social - Article Ref: IC0408-2434
By: S. A. Abidi
Wars indeed bring out the best and the worst in the combatants and then some surprises. A nation may win on one ground but lose on another that was not even the issue of war. The armies of Germany and Japan were obviously vanquished, but the nations emerged as economic powers doing better than some of the victors. The current conflict may be seen as clash of civilizations, an attempt to grab the Iraqi oil fields or overpowering an enemy of Israel, but the end results are altogether different. They have exposed the superpower's feet of clay, bringing shame of guilt of deceit and fraud to its leadership. They were caught in the act red handed doing exactly what the claimed they stand against.
To speak the truth is a divine virtue, but in the last analysis it is also the practical wisdom that is often forgotten in the hurry of pursuing greed. A lie may pay off in the short term, but takes its toll in the long run, ---- as the policies of Tony Blair and George Bush are proving to their utter mortification. Truth was also known to be the first casualty in war, but now it can survive, ---- as it did not when the world soon found out the lie of the Weapons of Mass Destruction. You can fool some people for sometime but not all of them all the time, ---- as the BJP learnt to their grief in the last Indian elections.
The enlightened segment of humanity has always known the truism about truth, but we owe its renewed revelation to the event of the information explosion, as though information had broken out from the state controls. Thanks are due to the growing technology of information that defies borders and defeats tricks like the 'embedded reporters', and make reporters vie with each other for being the first one to bring the true story to the world.
In the gloomy outlook of the present day world, information is spreading like light in the darkness. Science and technology, which armed the oppressor to wreak havoc on humanity, may have taken a full circle and returned to the basics of morality to ameliorate its sufferings through information.
When the American founding fathers wrote in the Declaration of Independence (1776) - " We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable RightsÉ..", they had in their minds their own rights that were usurped by the British oppressors. Little did they know that the Americans, after they were fed on these noble sentiments for 228 years, would include the Iraqi prisoners at Abu Gharaib in the same category of 'men created equal' too! The graphic information of the indignities perpetrated by their government on other human beings, provided by the information media, shocked the Americans beyond belief and put them to shame. Hats off to the God fearing British girl who was developing and printing pictures in a photographer's shop and could not stand the horror of sadistic torture she saw in them. She found it fit to betray the confidence of the customer and report the crime to the Police. Credit also goes to the Police who did not hush up the matter and swallowed their national pride by bringing the guilty British soldiers to trial.
Does it mean that the days of the rulers, who professed one thing and practiced another, are coming to an end? Maybe it is the first ray of hope. Double standards (munafiqat) is the greatest curse that has been the bane of humanity on earth. Much more grievous in - justices are inflicted covertly on the poor and the hungry of the world, that never see the light of the day. The media with commercial interests is averse of showing the unsightly images of famine stricken cadaverous children on TV for fear of disturbing the appetite of their viewers having dinner and losing their patronage.
Guiltier than the developed countries, who oppress the third world covertly are the rulers of the poor countries who allow it and indulge in overt oppression of their own county men. While shedding crocodile tears on the plight of their subjects and electorate, they live in lavish styles and transfer millions to foreign banks in secret accounts.
Whereas the information age brings hope to the suffering humanity, it delivers warning to the autocrats, potentates, oligarchs and also the leaders who wear the halo of democracy around their heads. It tells them to beware of practicing double standards, be it in the matters of their own nations or the affairs of the world. Information age knows no borders and is already a global phenomenon and it will see through their deeds and misdeed just the same.
It may be to soon to celebrate the power of information, but we can help by acquiring it, demanding it and spreading it as much as we can.
Wherever information flows freely, there will be light, and wherever there is light there will be hope.
The author is an independent commentator based in Karachi, Pakistan