Some of my FB friends have been asking me to speak out on the Dagana case where a child died because the hospital didn’t have the fuel for its ambulance. I refused to do it immediately. I put it away for two reasons. First, as a father of two daughters, I was deeply shaken by the incident. I was imagining the pain the father must be going through of losing the first child, who looked healthy and absolutely beautiful. The social media is understandably full of finger-pointing, blame game and outrage – made worse by the deafening silence of the people in the higher realm who could have actually prevented this tragedy.
However, the social media activists are looking for scapegoats – not calling for the real solution.
And this takes me to the second reason for my not joining the howling match. There is simply no use, as I wrote to someone is Australia, to point out flaws in the system. It is a systemic failure and not just of the HA or the BHU or the ambulance driver. For some time now I have stopped bringing out any articles on our public services – preferring instead to drop humorous one-liners – and laugh it off. This is because our people in the system have built a high wall around their territory. No one can do anything. No one. And forget about listening to outside criticisms positively, even inter-agency consultations or suggestions bear no fruit. That’s why there is no coordination among the government bodies. To engage with the system with a hope of improving it is a sheer waste of one’s time. And besides, as someone trolled me on Facebook, why should I be always the only one who is not happy?
And then this happens. A life is lost. A father’s soul is crushed. And no words of guilt, acceptance or remorse from anywhere.
Complacency, indifference and self-serving mindset are so firmly set in our system, at all levels, that some people there now live in a parallel world of alternate reality. A world where life is filled with a long list of privileges and entitlements, of immeasurable power with no accountability and without any fear to anyone. Literally they just don’t give a damn about anything or anyone. Simply. No. One. The mass that they are supposed to serve are a burden. The authority they ultimately report to are just source for more favors, medals or kidu – and not to be inspired from or listen to.
I am not exaggerating or being malicious, but there is simply no hope of any change happening – no amount of hard-hitting editorials on Kuensel or social media screams would matter. And positive changes are what the media, social thinkers and critics aspire for when they invest their time to pen down “thoughtful” social commentaries. They don’t do for personal vendetta against anyone or to win personal favors. At least, I don’t. I know now I can’t speak for everyone.
There was a time when writers and reporters were highly regarded – and even feared. When we were considered the conscience of our society – to speak the bitter truth. Nowadays, forget about the rich and powerful, even upstarts in public offices, whose diapers we saw them clean, are ready to sermon us by the virtue of holding a government office. For those in higher position, we are nothing but a threat to their self-preservation and utility. To the rest and the harmless, we are but a subject of laughter and derides in their countless official dinners and social gatherings.
I think a lot about our country and the world – the state of our nation, and the future of our children. I see that our public discourses are dominated by rising unemployment, growing external debts, rural-urban migration, melting glaciers and pollution from plastics and traffic. But to me all the above are surmountable challenges. Instead nothing scares me more than the growing apathy, greed, complacency, loss of respect for authority and territorialism that plague our civil service. Ironically these regressive mindsets are spreading to the corporate sector – from banks to sawmills . And private citizens are feeling the weight of the overbearing power and responding to its toxicity by chasing wealth – through every means – both legally and illegally. This is leading to corrupt practices and rent-seeking activities everywhere. All these will not just hamper our growth or peace but will also pose a huge threat to our security and sovereignty as a nation.
No, the health assistant is not solely responsible – nor is the BHU the only scapegoat. It is not our health services either. Our widespread complacency killed the child. This incident is just a symptom of a more serious underlying condition in our much-coveted civil service. Accidents don’t happen in isolation. They are result of a domino effect of a series of systemic failures. As the Russian philosopher, Mikhail Bakhtin, pointed out, you cannot trace the origin of an event in one place, person or another event. When you think you have found the source, there will be another – and another. I will be ‘somewhere’ you will never know.
If we continue to be complacent with our complacency, if we still live in that alternate reality – in the Walled City, if we don’t retrieve the genuine love and service to King and country, we will kill our future and our nation too.