We agree to disagree

Published : 17 Oct 2019 07:33 PM | Updated : 07 Sep 2020 07:20 PM

This ugly event in BUET has been bearing heavy on me for the past few days. I want to say a few words – even if it offends a few. 

I was assigned to Sher-e-Bangla hall and have such fond memories with my fellow BUETians, even though we had different political views. We were all friends first – there for each other. Things seem to have changed in a very wrong way in BUET, perhaps in general in Bangladesh. You would think that in an institution like BUET, where smarts abide, something like this would never happen. But here is the thing, technical intelligence (e.g., Engineering, Medical, Physics, etc.) does not translate into emotional intelligence. Technical Intelligence gives one a set of skills to earn a living, but the Emotional Intelligence is what makes you a human being.

In how we treat each other, there is a part that comes out of human “Nature,” and another part comes from “Nurture.” The “Nature” is part of your human design and the “Nurture” part comes from the family and social upbringing. For example, a baby is not born a racist; they are brought up to be racist.

Our culture and social thinking habits nurture us from our childhood to become who we eventually become. Most of us are not intellectually honest enough to question social teachings and so are helpless to this social upbringing. We repeat the same social behavior – good and bad - as our previous generations have done.

While we need justice to be served in the short term

 and administrative procedures improved in BUET, 

how do we improve so that these events do

 not re-occur? I believe the long-term 

solution is in the social behavioral change

What I am about to say, may sound idealistic, but we must aim at ideals even if it is far-far-far away from us. Societies around the world that have done well have a few foundational thinking habits – one of them is “Freedom of Speech” and tolerance for a difference of opinion – that is “we agree to disagree.” Not only should we tolerate differences in our opinions, but we should also encourage individuality and empower one to think for themselves – this is the best gift we can give to each other. Because in turn, the individual experiences will enrich and benefit the collective – the society.

Abrar Fahad was beaten up and died because of his opinions and views. In a society where disagreement is at least tolerated (tolerate is a negative word), or perhaps someday even seen positively (e.g., intelligent disagreement), an occurrence like this would have never happened.

While we need justice to be served in the short term and administrative procedures improved in BUET, how do we improve so that these events do not re-occur? I believe the long-term solution is in the social behavioral change, namely, develop respect for the right of other people to speak their minds. This will go a long way with our future generation - we need a social campaign to say, “We Agree to Disagree.” Right or wrong (your opinion) – you have the right to speak your mind. Spread the campaign and start making the changes now - in your own self first, before you ask others. One life taken for senseless reasons is one too many.

(The article is borrowed from the author’s facebook post) 

Babna Karim is a Musician and ex-member of the band Warfaze