Mind the Gap ..

Spend sometime in Pakistan and one thing will become very clear to you: the rich and the poor are disconnected like never before.

Admittedly, there has always been a distance between the two classes, but today it has reached levels where the consequences are very harmful. For instance, it is an everyday occurrence that people are stopped at gun point and stripped off their valuables. Two questions can be asked 1. What is leading them to such behavior? 2. How can they do it without feelings of guilt?

I think the first question has been exhausted by many commentators, and the second question gets little attention. In my opinion it deserves more than passing interest, it should be addressed with more urgency. Why do they not hesitate?? I think part of it is due to the global and local social movements that talk about the rights of the oppressed .. and they have led these individuals to develop a simplistic ‘us’ vs ‘them’ mentality: the rich are taking advantage of us, so we have are justified.

Most importantly, I think it is because the rich and the poor do not interact. They have separate lives, the rich have their restaurants, schools, hospitals, social events and the poor have their own. I have been lucky in the sense that from early childhood I have grown up with individuals who in material terms have far less than I have, but this has not stopped us from developing bonds of friendship and affection. They see me as a person and I see them as individuals; not as a rich man or a poor man. I cannot imagine any of them resorting to such means. They understand that before anything else I am a person like them. For any others I am not a person, I am a member of the class in power, and they are a member of the class oppressed.

I urge Pakistanis to exert efforts in changing this situation. You guys should reach out to those who are less fortunate and help them define themselves not solely in material terms, stripping them off their humanity and limiting their sense of self to what they have, is the biggest injustice. 

There are many ways of doing this .. really engaging .. we need to get rid of our suspicions of those who do not have enough …


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