The calls for a revolution in Pakistan were fairly loud throughout the spring and summer of last year, but then, like so often before, they quieted down and slowly but surely faded away only to erupt, this time as merely a distant echo of previous volleys, during recent weeks yet, if the truth be told, as it should and will be, the revolution is already happening and has been doing so for quite a long time.
Revolution does not necessarily mean that there will be killing in the streets, although the latter occurs increasingly and frequently here in Pakistan and is a visible sign of a society fuelled by mistrust and fear. Revolution wears many disguises and, so far at least, the revolution in progress here is a largely silent one in that many of the participants are not yet fully aware of the role they are playing, although, inevitably and if the revolution is to succeed, noise, loud noise will, ultimately, have to be made. People will, at some point, come to realise that if they are to bring about the changes they desire, then they will have to find the courage to not only stand up and speak, but also to act on the courage of their convictions too.
This largely silent revolution is happening in every single home with internet access, especially so amongst the users of social networking sites which, unsurprisingly as other entertainment options are almost nil, comprises the vast majority of computer literate people in the country. Social networking sites…….some countries, America being at the forefront as usual when it comes to suppressing freedom of information in recent years, are belatedly trying to censor their contents that is akin to locking the lion cage after its occupant/s have already escaped, as not only is the figurative lion on the loose…….it has developed a voracious appetite for a freedom previously denied.
Social networking sites have ‘liberated’ a deluge of global information relating to any subject one cares to mention: Some people use such sites simply for exchanging music and jokes with friends around the world, but the vast majority, often in conjunction with the two previously mentioned categories, are in the habit of interspersing lightweight ‘stuff’ with heavyweight realities about wars, politics, environmental issues and the stories behind the headlines of the day. In this way, the global ‘online’ population is broadening its knowledge of current events at an astronomical rate and, if after studying whatever has caught their attention on a social networking site, they want to dig deeper then all they have to do is use a search engine and yet more information comes to light and, as it does so, there are always more questions to be asked and more options to explore.
This massive availability of information along with, on social networking and some other sites, the immediate ability to discuss issues with online friends wherever they may be located, is, in a manner of speaking, actually forcing people to use their brain power to reason out, consider and then also to apply this newly acquired knowledge to their own lives and expectations: It has, in a nutshell, instigated thought processes that are now forcefully turning the global wheel of change.
This inevitable alteration of thought patterns, people no longer just believe what they are told, but check it out and then decide, is also having a run on effect on how people view the world as a whole and their own surroundings in particularly. This predictable, when you think about it, phenomenon also has a knock on effect on how people relate to each other and the politics which govern their lives and ‘styles’ and, in fact, is a real live ongoing revolution both of and against our times.
This tsunami of societal change is all encompassing: People are becoming more and more aware of the ‘truths’ they were otherwise blind too and, with this ‘naked’ understanding of basic realities they are, perhaps unwittingly at times, altering their modus operandi, gaining courage, learning conviction and are becoming more and more primed to alter what were once considered to be the unchangeable, unchallengeable aspects of not only their own lives, but also of the world in general and this, reader’s, adds up to, probably, the most powerful revolution ever and it is not going to go away!
The long-term outcome of this global revolution can, obviously, only be guessed at but, one sincerely hopes, it will result in the creation of a harmoniously balanced and peaceful world in which exploitation, war and corporate controls are relegated to the garbage can of time.
To quote César Chávez: “Once social change begins, it cannot be reversed. You cannot un-educate the person who has learned to read. You cannot humiliate the person who feels pride. You cannot oppress the people who are not afraid anymore. We have seen the future and the future is ours.”
The writer is author of The Gun Tree: One Woman’s War (Oxford University Press, 2001) and lives in Bhurban.