Building a Dream - By Mr. Naeem Mohammad
Building a Dream
By Mr. Naeem Mohammad
So what kind of stuff are dreams made of? What does it take to build a dream? Recently I had the opportunity of re-reading after many years, the 1963 speech of Martin Luther King, ‘I have a dream,’ delivered with rapturous rhetoric at the Washington Memorial. Here is an excerpt that defines the whole message and speech for me;
“But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. And so, we've come to cash this check, a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice.”
This to me epitomises the tantalising defiance, the indefatigable spirit and most important of all, the sheer depth of hope. This is the stuff dreams are made of and it is not surprising that at the 1968 Olympics, Tommie Smith and John Carlos found the courage to raise their gloved fists on the podium to tell the world that their dream was alive and the oppressed black citizens of America were marching towards true emancipation; slowly but surely. The white Australian athlete on the podium wore a badge to show is support for the two Americans; a prime example of the infectious nature of self-belief when you pursue your rightful destiny with dignity and honour. America and African Americans have come a long way since 1963.
So what about Pakistanis, can we dream too? The answer to that can only be yes because the strength and weakness of Pakistan, like any other nation, lies in its people. Today, I find myself, strangely gripped by a sense of hope amidst all the peddling of bad news stories by the media and in the media. Pakistan has had its ‘I have a dream’ moment in the form of the restoration of the CJ and the original bench. ‘The bank of justice,’ for the first time in the history of Pakistan has come out of bankruptcy and as shown the contents of its vault. I remember the great day when Pakistanis came out in droves to line the streets and roads of Pakistan, to say, enough is enough! On that fateful day, I spoke to my older brother, who lives in Islamabad: he told me he was taking all his family including his young children to the protest to be part of this peaceful uprising of hope. This was the day that Zardari and his corrupt posse could not hide behind Benazir’s grave and hoodwink the nation one more time. This was also the day that many young Pakistanis saw, for the first time in their lives, a dream come true; the corrupt and the powerful defeated. Lastly this was the day the people of Pakistan became the strength of the nation. That was and is a beginning and to borrow a line from T. S. Elliot;
“In my beginning is my end…”
If you are unconvinced of the power we possess as Pakistanis; here is an incident that will warm your heart. It happened a couple of years before the unlawful sacking of the judges of the Supreme Court of Pakistan. I was travelling in a taxi in Islamabad and I got talking to the taxi driver who seemed to be old enough to know a thing or two about life. I asked him why he was driving a taxi so late at night as it was obvious from his age that he could do with a rest. He said this is second job; he works in a Government office as a clerk in the mornings and in the afternoon and evenings he drives a taxi to make ends meet. He told me that all his children had either finished or were in the process of completing their degrees. I was very impressed by this man’s remarkable drive to give his children a better future, so I asked him if there was a lesson in life that he thinks is the most important of all. He said that his guiding principle in life was never to tell a lie. I was quiet for a moment and then I realised that this man had cracked it; a simple and beautiful way to live your life and build a country that is worth living for and dying for. The amount of hard work this man was doing was probably going to send him to an early grave but what a legacy would he leave for his children! It is people like him who are the holders of the glorious torch of hope and it is ordinary people like him who are handing it down to the next generation.
Building our dream is never going to be easy because first we will need to wake up into a nightmare; the legacy of falsehood and empty promises that we have inherited from many of those who came before us. We can begin by stop lying to ourselves first and then to others, in short we all have to become like the taxi driver. When our national habit is to tell the truth then these ‘leaders’ who enslave us with their barely veiled greed, will no longer be able to hold us down and our children will be able to dive into the sea of opportunities in search of the gems of a better life. It is impossible to accept lies from anyone when you do not lie yourself. I dream of the day when the mullah, the politician, the government clerk, the teacher and the president of our country will all be judged by the same standard of truth and decency.
So who will be the architects and the builders of our dream? I see the knowledge and experience of those, who have so far quietly greyed their hair in search of Jinnah’s Pakistan, to provide the road map but I see the youth of Pakistan standing up, shoulder to shoulder with each other, under the banner of ‘no more lies,’ and providing all the blood and toil necessary to build a dream of a plural and democratic Pakistan. Our youth must not just work harder but they must work smarter and instead of repeating themselves louder, they should learn to rephrase their sentences so that the message of change gets to every single person in Pakistan irrespective of where and how they live. Our youth must never impale themselves on the sword of status quo but must take possession of it and break it into a thousand pieces.
To make the point, here is as excerpt from Quaid e Azam’s speech on the 15th of August 1947; it delineates the task in hand.
“"Finally, let me tell you, fellow citizens, Pakistan is a land of great potential resources. But to build it up into a country worthy of the Muslim nation, we shall require every ounce of energy that we possess and I am confident that it will come from all whole-heartedly."
No one said the task was easy but it is NOT impossible. Pakistan will have its second breath; I am going to leave you with Martin Luther King again;
“I have a dream today”
Building a Dream - By Mr. Naeem Mohammad