The 20th century itself was the eighth wonder. The fast-paced development and innovation amazed everyone. With every tick of the clock, something new emerged which shook the whole world to its core.
Following the advancement in science and technology, the century marked the happening of a very strange and unique case – of humans meddling with the laws of the universe. The judges were different governments and the jury was filled with renowned scientists. The defendants were a few literary geeks who were labelled ‘misfits’ by the people of their communities. They came up with arguments but their weak voices couldn’t shake the people hearing the case. The verdict was given and the file was sealed: ‘The earth has been sentenced to death’. Celebrations and jubilations! The decision was received with open arms – no protests, no ‘not my decision’ slogans. Everybody seemed happy about it, and they should have been because humans had created a wonder – ‘a nuclear bomb’.
The misfits were the only ones upset over the decision. They tried to raise their voices by writing in the press, through panel discussion in schools and via awareness campaigns (which were only attended against the promise of free food). Gradually, their voices became inaudible and the earth continues to rotate towards its future of gloomy death – dead earth rotating. A lot of countries joined the nuclear club. After celebrating its 50th independence anniversary, Pakistan applied for registration in the club and thankfully – the fact that we celebrate May 28 to commemorate the 1998 historic nuclear tests is enough to explain how ecstatic the nation is for the destruction of the planet – the country succeeded.
The people of the country said prayers of thanks. The air echoed with the sound of happiness. The country was now a powerful state. The bomb was to keep the enemy – India of course – at bay. Whether the bomb succeeded in keeping the enemy out or not is another debate – one which shouldn’t be started because of its sensitivity – but the bomb did keep economic growth out of the country. Moreover, the higher echelon of society is immune to the dreadful effects of the creation of the bomb. The lower middle-class is happy being an atomic power. Although it suffers from the shrinking economy of the country, it is happy that the country is safe from the enemy. After all, a war is the biggest problem.
But, for a change, let’s not talk about the economy because this argument will be drowned under the ‘no pain, no gain’ argument. Let’s talk about the mass destruction this bomb promises. Let’s find out why people are silent over nuclear weapons. A war affects the country’s economy, but the nuclear bomb won’t affect the economy of the country – because there won’t be any economy left. Everything will be blown to smithereens. There will not be a single person left behind to care about economy.
When I was in high school, we had a short play based on a grieving mother, Mrs Meldon. Her husband and son were killed in a war. Her brother was a scientist who was insensitive towards her feelings and boasted about his invention – a bomb. At the time, I agreed with the scientist. I thought that having a bomb was essential for a nation. Maybe, favouring wars was a more patriotic thing to do. But over the years, I realise that I was wrong. War is no solution.
The fact that nobody wants to talk about a nuclear war indicates that we have failed as humans. The ‘protective layers’ around us are so dense that we cannot see the world’s suffering. In simple words, we don’t understand what the terrors of war are. We don’t know what suffering is. This is because the world we live in is completely different than the world where hundreds of children are dying due to bombs – ‘ordinary bombs’. The little we know about the living conditions of people in war-torn countries is that there are a few unidentifiable people somewhere on the planet whose morning starts with cries and pain.
The lack of sympathy is premised on a weak haptic system. Haptic is commonly described as an ability to grasp something – to touch it or hold it to explore its depths. So how are we going to link apathy with the haptic system? On a surface level, the relation between the two is implausible but if we explore it at a deeper level, we would find the interconnection between the two. In order to understand a situation in its true sense, one has to experience it. For example, one cannot tell what happens at the time of the death until s/he goes through the pain of getting his/her soul sucked out of the body. One cannot tell how much pain she’d feel at the time of giving birth until she delivers a baby. One cannot tell how it actually feels in a foreign country until s/he is in a foreign land. Similarly, one cannot have the ‘haptic perception’ of the terrors of war until s/he has closely observed warzones.
Virtual reality is the future of the world. Thanks to technology, outdoor games can be enjoyed while remaining indoors. However, technology hasn’t dared yet to give a ‘virtual image’ of a war-torn country. Therefore, we are way behind in ‘grasping the true meaning of destruction’. The nuclear bomb has the potential of reducing hundreds of humans into ashes. Trees will be blown away, water levels will be minimised, animals and birds will become history, and the air will be completely covered with a blanket of smoke.
Just a short while back, Karachi witnessed two horrendous incidents: 1) the Baldia factory fire incident and 2) the Gadani shipyard fire incidents. Scores were burned down and reduced into nothing. Imagine the sensitive skin of a human body being exposed to the ruthless flames of fire. Such pain is inexpressible and unimaginable. The bomb in question will bring much greater pain.
What is shocking is the fact that a lot of religious institutions that scare their disciples using the example of hellfire are silent over this deadly invention. Hellhounds and hellfire is something to be scared of while the ‘worldly hounds’ are just a test – a ‘collateral damage’ of a greater gain.
There was a time when textbooks had poems on the effects of industrialisation. The poet expressed the agony of losing scenic sites to smoke-emitting buildings. Now, the focus is more on one side of the coin. The other side is kept in the dark because apparently ignorance is bliss.
If the ugly truth is made public, people would freak out. They would demand to get rid of the deadly bomb; and this is not what the state wants. The ‘bomb’ was supposed to protect us but when protection turns into a threat, it is time to rethink. To set our priorities right. To analyse the whole situation through the prism of humanity. Back it with history or religion, link it with Doomsday or Nostradamus’ prophecy, war is the worst thing.
The writer is a subeditor at The News.