Khalil Gibran wrote in Sand and Foam, “Desire is half of life; indifference is half of death.” In informal words, believed that indifferent minds are no better than dead minds. The word “empathy” comes from the ancient Greek empatheia, for compassion.It is one human emotion that not only connects the members of a society but also has the power to bring about revolutionary changes. Being aware of the problems and sufferings of fellow beings is what ascends us from animals. When nations are living and thriving, the youth strives to improve their surroundings whereas when the rot sets in, the desire to improve dies. People become unfeeling towards their own perils. There is a reason we have pain receptors in our body, as they let us know if we are being harmed by external forces. The worst kind of ailment is when we do not even know if anything is wrong at all. Just a generation back, people would gather up instantly to help an accident victim on the side of the road without second thoughts. The trend of ignoring anything that hinders our robotic routine is becoming our new normality. A common culture in our cities was playing with other children of the neighbourhood. Now parents wonder whether or not their newly moved-in upstairs folks have got clearance from the local police station.
Our ancestors must have taken pride in our eastern values of hospitality, sharing and kindness for all. The country was founded by Sufis and Saints who had set the stage for a Muslim country long before Iqbal visualized it in his dreams. The city of Lahore is still known for the revolutionary figure of Ali Hujwiri who dwelled there to carry out his divine mission of spreading the passion for humankind. The patron saint of Karachi, Abdullah Shah Ghazi still lives in the hearts of the locals who believe as long as his shrine on the sandy hill shore stands, the city is safe from all sorts of natural disasters. Others like Laal Shahbaz, Ghulam FaridShakarGanj and Baha-ud-Din Zakariya changed the fate of entire continent with their exemplary lives. With just kindness and love as weapons, they altered the demographics of cities and populations. There was no distinction of religion, caste or creed at their doorsteps. The Hindu locals revered these saints as much their Muslim devotees at the time and even now.
So, what has the decades of war, violence and instability brought us? Many would think that the Pakistani youth are no different to any other young populations in the world. Known as the Generation X, they are ambitious but have it easier than older generations who had to build everything for themselves. Internet and social media have brought such a permanent change in the human lifestyle that it is hard to imagine otherwise. On the other hand, there are many things that are unique in the circumstances in which Pakistani youngsters are growing up. Our society is inflicted by Alexithymia or social indifference. We are now witnessing a single emotion shaping our new generation. Pakistan is among the youngest nations in the world with more than 60% of the total population comprising young people. These youngsters have grown up with fear and psychological trauma.
It is difficult to imagine a child getting daily dose of bomb blasts, sectarian and ethnic bloodbaths. We live in the era in which scientists have realized the extent of damage and trauma of loss and tragedy to the human mind. Developed countries have specialized programs to rehabilitate individuals for as little as losing a beloved pet. Whereas Pakistanis as a collective nation have chosen to ignore the symptoms of the very disease we need to culminate. There is no doubt that Pakistanis are among the bravest nations of the world. Any other country would have crumbled a long time ago with the burdens Pakistan today suffers. The violence-ridden country has stood up to the wave after wave of terrorism, but at the high cost of consequences that are yet to be seen on the vulnerable and impressionable young minds. Our political leaders and representatives of the civil society must rally together to find a way for us to heal in order to survive the apathy and indifference that has plagued us for decades.