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OP-ED: Original sins

  • Published at 10:07 pm June 19th, 2021
newspapers journalism
Photo: Bigstock

We have taken a bite out of the forbidden fruit, again and again

So, what are the topics of discussion for this week? 

There were threats of sexual assault and murder made against a woman, and instead of taking her side, our proud countrymen actually blamed her for it. 

There was a religious preacher who was abducted, and his wife has been crying for justice ever since. But that too seemed to have been a farce, or the ministry of love tells us so. 

In a world of manufactured consents, it is easier to turn our heads down than to turn them up. Look at the sun for too long and you too will go blind. 

And as for corona, well, it has taken so much from us that none of us really care anymore. 

We are all facing the flesh-melting light of Armageddon. We are all pigs on our way to slaughter. Everything ends. So why not make the most of what we have? As good ol’ Jim said: “I wanna have my kicks before the whole ...”

Wait. I can’t use expletives here. I am writing a column for a newspaper. A newspaper read by people of all ages. A readership consisting of the old who have gone through the brutalities of war and the young who are going through the brutalities of being. They’ve been through hell, but they can't handle some stupid curse word. Then again, that’s the rule here, one of the many unwritten rules of life in the 21st century. 

Civilization. Now that’s a topic of interest! Heard a joke once: Man goes to doctor. Says he’s depressed. Says life seems harsh and cruel. Says he feels all alone in a threatening world where what lies ahead is vague and uncertain. Doctor says: “Treatment is simple. Great clown Pagliacci is in town tonight. Go and see him. That should pick you up.” Man bursts into tears. Says: “But doctor … I am Pagliacci.” 

I have always loved this joke. But I have some modifications to make. Pagliacci wouldn’t even go to the doctor for his depression. While the doctor is in the audience for Pagliacci’s first show, the clown would pull a gun out of his pockets and shoot himself straight through the mouth. The joke? He should have done this the moment he was born. The fact that he made it this far is just the build-up for the punch line.

Not funny? Alright. That one’s on me. But make no mistake, that is what being born in the modern age feels like. That is what being a citizen of this world feels like. Every week, there is another news of tragedy. Just a couple of weeks ago, the televisions were bombarded with news coming in from the occupied Palestine. How brutally the people over there were being tortured! How savagely Israel was suppressing any kind of discussion that could shed light on that topic! 

And while all of this was being televised, things took a drastic turn when Israel decided to bomb the building that housed the offices of many international news outlets. Soon after, a ceasefire was recached, and the whole world could breathe a sigh of relief. The realities of Palestinian lives had invaded our own for a couple of weeks. But after some time, it got stale. I mean, how are we supposed to complain about Tiktok and PUBG with all this blood being shown on our screens?

That brings us to the concluding part of our piece. Remember the good old days? When things seemed fair and just? When life truly seemed like a gift? Well, I will expand on the gift part for my next week’s column, but I’m not so sure about life being fair and just anymore. 

Remember that rich kid who killed a bunch of people while he was driving his dad’s car while being underage? Remember what happened to him, or what he planned to do in the future? 

This, this is exactly what I’m talking about. There are all these invisible strings around us, all these invisible dealings that are happening right in front of us. We are like puppets in a doll house, unaware of the ties that bind us, unaware of the masters that control us. 

And now that I think about it, maybe that is for the better. They say that ignorance is bliss. I didn’t agree to that. And now, well, let’s just move on to my concluding remarks. 

Do you know what the original sin was? We reached for the tree of knowledge, and ate the forbidden fruit. As such, we were cast out of heaven, having to atone for our sins. But I guess human nature rarely changes. Ever since then, we have taken a bite out of the forbidden fruit again. And again. And again. 

From the days of Cain and Abel, to the rise of industry, and to the making of the atom bomb; none of it would be possible if we didn’t go to the tree of knowledge for the umpteenth time. And the power we gained through it -- well -- let’s just say that power is a two-way street. 

And what we do has a surprising way of biting us back in the ass. 

The atomic bomb was discovered the previous century. The doomsday clock was discovered at a similar time as well. According to current estimates, there is approximately 100 seconds to midnight. And I don’t know about you, but I have the perfect song to play when the clock sounds its final sound. After that, well, your guess is good as mine.

“Let’s all go and meet our maker
They don’t care whose side you’re on
We’re so afraid, I prayed and prayed
Before I learned to love the bomb”

Nafis Shahriar is a student of business and an intern at the Dhaka Tribune.

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