Pakistan and the Static Pendulum

Cainophobia is the exaggerated or irrational fear of newness. If our country had a national disease, this would be it.

We are a nation obsessed with rasms and rawaj (traditions and cultural norms). We all have a tendency to cling on to old things because we find comfort and solace in familiarity. Unfortunately we, as a nation, have moved several steps further into the domain of cainophobia.

Life is defined by its dynamism. Among the most beautiful things about life is its ability to constantly refine itself and move ahead. We advance…we evolve…we fortify ourselves with every passing generation. It is a folly to put one’s finger on a certain way of life and then adhere to it intransigently for all generations to come. We either synchronize our pulse with that of nature, or we invite its retribution upon ourselves.

Nature is a frigid, remorseless hag that for over 3.5 billion years since life first began on this tiny blue dot, has been weeding out all lifeforms that failed to adapt to their ever-changing environment. And she brooks no opposition or resistance…not even by humans.

Culture is an anchor that tethers a populace to a specific point in time, keeping it from advancing. The most developed nations in the world are also the ones that are least concerned with traditions. They discard a practice as soon as a more efficient way of doing things comes to attention. They keep their eyes on the horizon for new and exciting ideas, instead of sticking to the old ones out of nostalgia.

Religion is the mother of all anchors. It commands a person to discard his own ability to think, and instead, stick with resolute determination to what it is told by an ancient book. It does not matter if the practices it prescribes are the most efficient or if better alternatives are available. Simply stick to the old edicts and do not dare question them.

I am a sworn enemy of tradition. The more society attempts to shove its “norms” down my throat, the more I push back. I consider myself to be an agreeable person, and if given the choice to respect someone or something, I most likely will. But if society attempts to coerce me into respecting its ideologies, I will fight back.

I refuse to be dictated on doing things a certain way because that’s how our ancestors used to do it. Our ancestors were imbeciles who did not know half the things we know today. For our future generations, we would be imbeciles and I would never wish for them to follow my path.

A few days ago, one of my classmates (ironically, a med student) advised me not to eat too many nuts because they are “hot”. For those unfamiliar with what this means, many Pakistanis have latched on to the belief that different foods either lower or raise your body temperature, causing various illnesses. This superstitious nonsense has been passed down from generation to generation, and people still refuse to admit that the core temperature of the human body is not affected by the type of foods we consume. Illnesses result from consumption of foods that are contaminated by pathogens. Clearly, our ancestors had never heard of the germ theory.

It is time we overcome our tremendous inertia and allow ourselves to flow freely with time.

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