Plasticized! Perhaps!

Arshid Malik
I was a regular subscriber to Reader’s Digestas a kid. It carried all kinds of real life stories about adventures and misadventures of people from across the world and lots of humor. My favourite was Humor in Uniform. Each issue provided me delightful insights into the workings of the rest of the world I had only heard about and these insights were corroborated by my later life experiences.

I recall one real anecdote about a man from New York who goes to the neighbourhood barber for a haircut. Shortly after the man leaves the barber’s shop, he returns with a gun in his hand and shoots the barber at point blank range. Why? This man was seriously disappointed by what the barber had done to his hair in the name of a haircut. One look at the mirror back home sent this client rolling back to the saloon with a gun in his hand and for revenge he simply took the barber’s life. Things happen, all sorts of crazy things and this I learnt reading Reader’s Digest, month followed by month.

Seriously, how serious can a man get about his hair? My readings into Reader’s Digest taught me that people living in the super developed parts of the world are pretty much enraged about everything.They kill people for the sheer sake of it. Blood, the sight of it, excites them to the extent of incitation. Now such crimes are almost never heard of in our region.

We might come across an incident in 2 to 3 years where a man kills his wife out of frustration, or poverty or some other reason, but there is a reason all right while in the West such acts take place irrespective of reason and belief. Serial killers abound in the West like potatoes and onions and they “invest” their entire lives into murdering innocent people and the counts go up to thirty or even fifty in particular cases. Why does it happen? Why are the Westerners so into crime? Why do they make careers out of crime? What drives them to kill people for the pure disgusting pleasure of it? Is it technology? Is it modernization? Is it the breaking of the family structure? I believe it is all that and more.

People in the West have almost touched the zenith of modernity and while their nations and countries underwent modernization and industrialization they lost touch with their inner self. Drugs, liquor and blood started flowing together in the streets of these countries back in the early nineties. Morality and ethics took the rear seatwhile Pop culture and racing cars zoomed to the front.

Back in Kashmir we are comparatively very innocent and that is mostly because of the fact that we are only evolving. We are yet to witness an industrial age. Family, values and ethical systems are primary to our social setups. We are, so to say, rooted to the earth and that keeps us from “floating” in the air. It is the same in other parts of the world which are underdeveloped or developing. So, one can safely assume that modernity, industrialization and an etched Pop culture are responsible for the dislocation of primary human value systems in the developed parts of the world, as also the established fact that we are safe as long as we are away from the consumer culture. We thrive in the shades of nature and as long as we do not erect skyscrapers we are safely kept from crossing the boundaries.
There is hardly anybody in the West who does not consult a shrink.

They are all confused and have lost sight of reason. So, today, even though America is a supra super power, it has the most number of mentally sick people, who don’t mind shooting the barber at point blank just because he missed an angle while doing your hair. Down here in Kashmir, no matter what the barber does to your hair, you never shoot him at point blank and in fact you do not even yell at him for messing up your hair do. But at the same time let us not forget that the ellipsoid waves of modernization are hitting us hard in the face all the time, transforming our outlook to an extent that we could blow our own selves up for no sane reason. So, no matter how positive you are, stay warned that modernization is a devil that delivers you from humanity and social value systems. We should learn to filter out all that can lead us to devastation. Our beliefs, customs and traditions are our vanguards and they protect us from all kinds of alien filth. The day we say bye to these powerful social, cultural and religious systems we would end up Plasticized! Perhaps!


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