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A dreamless nation

  • Published at 08:30 pm July 21st, 2017
  • Last updated at 08:39 pm July 21st, 2017
A dreamless nation

In our youth, when we were graduating from our colleges and going for higher education, we were faced with a stark reality of choosing what we would study. We wanted one subject and our parents wanted us, their children, to study another.

I have many friends who couldn’t study the subjects of their choosing, but had to graduate in subjects their parents had chosen for them.

One of my friends wanted to study economics, completing which, he wanted to become a university teacher as well as a researcher. However, he was forced to study medicine which he never practiced as a physician. Since then, he has been working in the health care development sector.

At that time, there was a craze to become engineers and physicians. Our parents always wanted us to be either a doctor or an engineer.

The bigger objective

The reason behind this thinking was that these kinds of professionals were financially well off. Now, could becoming financially solvent be an objective of life? Isn’t it part of a bigger objective?

In a recent survey, 63% of Bangladeshi youth have that they don’t know what their objectives or aims in life are. This certainly is a dismal scenario as far as our national future is concerned: We become doubtful of our destination as a nation.

There’s another risk. When we don’t know what our aims in life are, we become susceptible to becoming anything. If anyone wants, it’s very much possible to push an aimless person to get involved with the negative aspects of life. It’s very easy to push these kinds of people to criminal activities.

The survey said that 37% claimed that they knew what their aims were. However, my question about these 37% is: Are they sure about what they’ve claimed? Did they understand properly when they decided on their objectives?

I have my doubts. I strongly think that most of these people are thinking about their professional life, not life as a whole.

Just cause

Life’s essence is, I believe, beyond just becoming professionally successful or changing one’s financial status. Life should focus on a cause.

For example, a physician should be aiming at making society free of disease. The engineers’ cause may be to build Bangladesh as the most environmentally friendly nation.

Allow me to tell my own story. From grade 8 I dreamt of becoming an architect, to design beautiful villages, cities, and houses. I was preparing myself in that fashion and, that’s why, from grade 9 to 12, I studied engineering drawing instead of biology.

However, I failed to qualify to for the lone architecture department of the country at the time, and my dream was lost forever.

Then, I started dreaming of becoming a writer.

We need to show our youths how to dream on a bigger canvas rather than setting goals of becoming petty professionals

Now, if I could study architecture and become an architect, would it be fair to say that my life’s objective would be fulfilled? How would we define this aim?

Is it only to become a successful professional? Is studying the right subject that I want to and reaching my professional success regarded as an aim or objective? If that’s the case, it’s a very narrow way of thinking.

Allow me to talk about Humayun Ahmed. He always wanted to study economics. However, he ended up in chemistry and became a teacher of the subject. In the middle of his teaching career, he started writing novels.

He left his teaching profession and became a full-time writer. Now, the question is: Was he taking the right decision about his life’s objectives when he started to teach at the university? Maybe, yes.

But when he discovered his love for writing, he gave up teaching. Then he began to chase his dreams and spread them through his work.

Who’s the leader?

I’d like to focus on our national aim/goal/objective for a while. Do we know what our national objectives are? We once dreamed of becoming an independent country; then, we wanted to rebuild this war-ravaged nation.

Since then, we haven’t had any such guidance from any leader about our national dreams. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina was perhaps the first leader to have floated some visions about our country. She’s still continuing with those ideas.

However, the ideas are related to business and the economy: We want to become a richer nation. What I’d love to hear from our prime minister are the words which would characterise us as a nation. Are we a loving nation? Are we a hospitable lot? What has been our evolution as a collective?

I have a strong belief that we may have to learn to dream first before deciding on our goals. Our dreams would lead us to the thought of deciding on the aims of life which could be implemented in our lifetime.

A population needs an atmosphere as well as encouragement to be able to dream. My own dream is to write novels for the international market.

However, our country is too insignificant for the international publishers; they wouldn’t even bother to listen to what a Bangladeshi writer has to offer. So, my dream, mostly likely, won’t see the light of day.

We, as a nation, couldn’t create an environment in which people can dream about their future.

Our country is a reservoir of untapped potential. With a little inspiration, we could become the most passionate dreamers and consequently, we could work to achieving those dreams.

We need to show our youths how to dream on a bigger canvas rather than setting goals of becoming petty professionals. In our own dreamlessness, we’re not setting these goals.

Ekram Kabir is a fiction writer.

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