In an article William Safire, a political columnist for New York Times (1929-2009), penned down a scene from U.S. Senate hearing room, when Gen. David Petraeus, commander of U.S. forces in Iraq, gave his report on progress in the war. Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, runner-up U.S. Presidential candidate 2016, reached back 190 years in literary history and told him, “I think that the reports that you provide to us really require the willing suspension of disbelief.”
Willing suspension of disbelief is a willingness to suspend one’s critical faculties and believe the unbelievable; sacrifice of realism and logic for the sake of enjoyment. The term was coined in 1817 by the poet and aesthetic philosopher Samuel Taylor Coleridge. This technique has widely been used in the world of stage, drama and film. However, politics has become its relatively new host and, unlike stage or film, the ‘actors’ here have proven themselves better practitioners of the technique.
When Hillary Clinton was asked by Melissa Block on National Public Radio (NPR), “Did you mean that he was misleading Congress?” Clinton said: “I believe that General Petraeus and the brave young men and women who are serving under him are doing everything they possibly can to fulfill their mission.”
In the wake of ‘Panama Leaks’, the biggest corruption case is underway in the Supreme court of Pakistan. Our minds have been hooked on concocted stories, contradictory statements and contrasting evidence. The entire nation has willingly suspended their logical abilities and believed the unbelievable. We, as a nation, have been allured by a few fading ‘food and shelter’ promises for decades. We have been taken advantage of by many ‘saviors’, apparently different, but very similar in ‘motives’. It is alarming to see not many of us can get out of the influence of political enticement in our system.
Today, we should not identify ourselves with any political party or a group but with principles. It is time to stand up for our own individual benefit – the right of justice and prosperity – by protesting against malpractices, corruption, injustice without affiliating with one personality, group or political party. This is the only way we may be able to take our first step toward a positive future of Pakistan. We should speak against a lie regardless of the mouth it is coming out. Our metrics and criteria need revamping. Our past and current approach has shuddered our ground. We should not be a part of this ‘tug of war’ between PML(N) and Tehrik-e-Insaf or PPP and PML(N) or any other group(s). On these political fronts what is on stake belongs to none of the claimants but to us – the citizens of Pakistan. We should stand non-partisan and rise for us only. Why do we need an invitation from one political party to protest against the corruption of another party? And then doubt our own plausibility after cross allegations from the group to be prosecuted. We should really stop taking sides and defending individuals or groups. Truth is ‘Helpless’ in our country. Lie is becoming stronger with every passing day. This is time to revisit our affiliations. It is time to judder ourselves out of this ‘willing suspension of disbelief’ and start using our reasoning on critical issues like corruption. Our religion is our strength but we should not forget ‘Allah helps those who help themselves’. The Almighty, the Omnipotent requires us to seek His help only after we stand up for ourselves. How can we expect an individual, be it an Army Chief or a Chief Justice, to fix our problems while we are in slumber? Protesting on social media has no impact when our Institutions are in shambles. We have never supported our institutions they way we support ‘corruption’. They have always spotted us divided as parties in political rallies, processions and not united as the citizens of Pakistan. We must pay heed to this shouting hour and show affiliation to citizenship of Pakistan, to Justice and to Accountability and not to the parties who are responsible for this chaos. We should go and attend the Supreme Court’s trial of Panama Leaks without holding any political party flags or chanting any political slogans. Our institution for Justice should witness our interest and urge for a fair judgement. Our demand should be one – a fair and true judgement. This would be helping ‘ourselves’ and rejecting ‘willing suspension of disbelief’.
(The writer is a graduate of MA Communication Management and Public Relation from London Metropolitan University, U.K. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org)