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Who’s the enemy?

Updated 11 Aug, 2016 01:09am
Illustration by Zehra Nawab
Illustration by Zehra Nawab

Maybe we should answer “Whose enemy?” instead. That’s the real problem — having enemies chosen on our behalf for us to be conditioned against.

Cats will die, crops will fail and overpasses fall without necessarily being caused by an adversary. What we have are problems; problems that won’t find solutions as long as we create straw men and states responsible for them.

It’s better to have problems than to have enemies. A problem can be solved, an enemy must be destroyed. A problem requires everyone to pitch in; an enemy makes us pitchfork our own for dissenting. A problem rewards brainpower, an enemy requires brawn towers.

Choosing enemies means discarding some solutions, and that leaves us strategically poorer and objectively paranoid. It’s better to have competitors than it is to have enemies — the latter is where zero-sum games can be acceptable. Competitors cooperate when they can find mutual interests, enemies prevaricate to eviscerate.

Also read: What do you believe in?

All talk of enemies isn’t rooted in la-la land. Enemies are real — there are some really bad guys out there, but it needs to be rooted in evidence and not the fulmination of the medically suspicious.

The real problem with having enemies is creating an air of dehumanization of others. And that, while not okay, could be understood if it was exclusively oriented to the external other. Dehumanize once, and it’s hard not to let it seep inside. Eventually, you will find brothers who you think deserve to be treated like the others.

So, if we really have an enemy, it’s mindsets. The enemy is not differences, but indifferences.

But by all means, let us join Orya Maqbool Jan in his war against breasts. It’s time to add a new cleavage in society.

Fasi Zaka is a columnist and a radio talk show host who also works in television. He tweets @fasi_zaka