Relationships, political discourse, and societal intolerance

Updated: Jun 18

Relationships hold a very curious place in our lives, they have the potential to not only frame our mind-sets, But, to redefine our nurture as well. A healthy relationship is one where we grow mentally and emotionally.

To not discuss religion, politics, and sex, is a common piece of advice often given by our parents or guardians. The words do seem to hold weight owing to the polarity in Pakistani society, or perhaps it is owing to these words that there is polarity in Pakistani society. A sense of righteousness permeates our culture. Protests, violence therein, opposition to peaceful sit-ins, and derogatory language speaks for the intolerance and lack of patience a common individual in Pakistan has. However, is it all due to merely having a firm frame of mind with a glint of self-righteousness, or are there any factors which the de-facto modus operandi of our society has induced in our subconscious?

One might argue that with education, a progressive attitude is observed in the masses and tolerance toward diverse opinions is considered normalcy. However, is it merely education that has played the part in inducing tolerance into our youth, is another question whose answer would aid in elucidating upon the culture of sociological literacy and political correctness.

Growing up, most of us were taught to not discuss politics outside our home. We were taught a sense of righteousness regarding the opinions we held. This leads us to feel someone with different views has no right to question us, owing to our sense of self-righteousness. Not only does this create hurdles and intolerance in the society as a whole, it also affects the relationship between two people.

Friendliness in personal relationships increases the room to grow. It helps in hosting an inclusive dialogue on subjects that may otherwise be considered taboo by the society. This helps shatter the robust nature of our believes. It helps trample the idea of supremacism. In the book Rising Out of Hatred, the author Eli Saslow writes about his story where he grew up in atmosphere of white supremacism. His upbringing was surrounded by white nationalism and the sole idea of white privilege.

A man who is raised in a bias atmosphere as such becomes the problem. The mind set framed by such a prejudiced upbringing contributes to the toxicity of the behaviour. It enlightens the feeling of righteousness, and gradually, it contributes to greater issues of the society, like, normalizing racism, justifying gender-based oppression, and so on. A prejudiced and bereft upbringing atmosphere as such is the prime cause of the afore-mentioned problems.

If any white supremacist comes across a person of colour, his or her opinion will be futile in their sight. In order to convince and bring the discussion to table, a white person of similar privilege will have to have a conversation for the topic to be taken seriously. In a system of oppression, one must kill the ignorance of an oppressor, and the woke oppressor shall suffice in dissimilating the entire system.

Similarly, for the purpose of gender progress and feminism, it is imperative for men to be involved in the struggle, and not so because they are inherently smarter, but because it is a fraction of men that has played the role of oppressor in this agony. And in order to for the argument to progress and permeate, such a conversation needs to take place amongst relationships; between friends, spouses, parents and children, and between peers. A conversation of such sort is followed by the need for an inclusive discourse, and the schooling of need begins at home, always. Which is precisely why it is significant for the parents to talk to their children openly about topics ranging from politics and religion to sex education.

During the time of Musharraf, the pupils of Laal Masjid showered the students of Quaid-e-Azam University with acid. The anger and frustration were owing to the university students’ progressive mind set as it coincided with the idea of morality of the pupils of the Laal Masjid. The issue here was not of gender-based violence, since both sides had proponents belonging to either genders. The sector of violence and hatred was encapsulated and permeated via the upbringing of the pupils of the masjid. They were taught their righteous sense of honour was what Islam upheld. Due to the sense of uppity and righteous probity inculcated in the minds of the children, they grew up with a reductionist mind set of the binary, the grew up contemplating right and wrong only on the grounds of what was taught to them. Ergo, the violence that broke out. Under such circumstances, it becomes imperative for a man or woman in the midst of the oppressors to rise against the peers, since anyone else’s opposition would be rendered indentured.

A sociological Perspective

The entire sociological debate of nature vs nurture also comes into play. The debate explains the behaviours and determinism of individuals which are influenced either by their innate qualities and self; nature, or by the effect societal and/or parental upbringing has had on the mind of the person. It is in the human nature to question. Questions pertaining to areas of all sorts have arisen in the minds of people and in concurrence to the frame of mind of the masses, the questions have either been answered, or the person shut off.

The sense of righteousness, and the idea of personal opinions, societal morals and traditions being sacrosanct has been the initiation of intolerance. Therefore, the appreciation of inclusive discourse will inculcate the celebration of difference of opinion.

When someone with contradictory beliefs is confronted, the general response is either a state of mental discomfort. This feeling of inconsistency in attitude inspires the feeling of being attacked, thereby, leaving the only viable option for them being a fight back. Such a phenomenon is termed cognitive dissonance. This fight or flight bolsters intolerance.

When the idea of being open to beliefs and no frame of mind or political/religious alliance being absolute is trampled, people are more receptive to others’ ideas and their opinions. This improves tolerance in our society and increases discourse amongst people.

Social entrepreneurial ventures and public speaking platforms that hold debates, conferences, or panel talks improve mentor-protégé relationship by providing several views.

Conclusive Remarks

Under the idea and banner of societal intolerance and hatred that permeates our society and resides in the very fabric of it, it befalls us all to make this world a better place, and not only for the generation to come, but for ourselves. Make this world more tolerant and accepting to the views that are not indigenous and conservationist to the people. Relationships play a crucial and vital role in bringing about political liberty and sectarian tolerance.

It lies upon us all, therefore, to teach our peers, children, paramours, and friends, to discuss religion, politics, and sex, and propagate the advice.

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