Watching a live genocide unfold on Al Jazeera English, whether on TV or the internet and perceiving it as either propaganda against Israel or a war where one side is filled with prayers while the other is armed to the teeth with weapons and wealth from various sources, is nothing short of a test of mental strength and our individual and collective morality.
My unique and diverse experiences in the social development industry, working with powerful figures—usually men, and, of course, some patriarchal women—within donors and technical aid agencies, public sector outlets, non-profits, and even UN agencies, have taught me some hard lessons.
One of the most hostile lessons has been the undeniable reality that sycophancy and stupidity know no bounds, but unfortunately, morality does. Hence, it is never surprising that, in the aftermath of any conflict, disaster, or humanitarian emergency, aid and empathy fatigue set in quickly. Media attention diverts, sometimes leading to blackout and biased reporting, while the suffering of the diseased, displaced, and destroyed persists.
Our collective forgetfulness regarding the dismemberment of our eastern part, the ordeals of stranded Pakistani Biharis in the ghettos of Bangladesh, the struggles of survivors of floods and earthquakes, and numerous human rights violations are some examples close to home.
Wise individuals with high emotional intelligence remain calm and maintain a business-as-usual approach in the face of calamity, regardless of its magnitude, scale, extent, and intra- and intergenerational impacts.
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Examples abound around us when elite leaders in various industries, including human rights, health, and social protection (yes, these are industries, not merely sectors or subsectors), continue to pursue lucrative jobs and power positions, often without aligning themselves with any ethical stance, especially when the risk of being canceled out is glaringly obvious.
I am intrigued by the stance of celebrities who have the potential to make a difference but choose to remain silent or unclear when it comes to labeling a situation as genocide. Consider the Nobel Peace laureates, including two women winners who have gained fame and fortune through their activism for humanity and peace.
Do they recognize it as a genocide? I also ponder why feminists, in particular, are not surprised or shocked by the seemingly diplomatic approach of Aung San Suu Kyi concerning the Rohingya or the apparent confusion, if not complicity, of Malala.
I mention these two names because the former was my hero/shero when I was young, and the latter became a beacon of hope for empowerment and equality as I aged. How traumatic it is for any non-elite, self-made practicing humanist and intersectional feminist like myself, after completing more than half a century of life, to witness the shattering of idols.
I often question myself about what my own conduct and call to action should be in the face of shattered idols and the echoes of silence from those with the power to make a difference. My non-pragmatic heart consistently leans towards the call for empathy and justice, and my head endorses that these values must remain resolute.
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In a complex and complicated world, the existence of a few with similar voices becomes my source of strength to question, the courage to speak, and the compassion to act. After all, it is in our collective conscience that the seeds of change are sown.
Amidst disappointments without borders, I nurture my phoenix-styled activism and remind myself that the struggle for justice and morality is an ongoing journey. As you and I reflect on the moral limits of those with clout, may our voices unite in a chorus of resilience, demanding a world where empathy triumphs over apathy, and where the actions of the powerful align with the principles of justice and humanity.
about the author: The writer has been a legacy journalist and the first woman to anchor solely live morning and current affairs shows on PTV. Besides, she is the winner of an award of excellence for her first-ever series on gender issues from PTV. Additionally, she is a social development expert and a free thinker.