Alert Sign Dear reader, online ads enable us to deliver the journalism you value. Please support us by taking a moment to turn off Adblock on

Alert Sign Dear reader, please upgrade to the latest version of IE to have a better reading experience


“If voting changed anything, they’d make it illegal”

Published May 07, 2013 06:10pm


Your Name:

Recipient Email:

enter image description hereWith the election fervor at its peak, various political parties blowing their trumpets, people dreaming and hoping for change, I am once again caught in the oblivion.

I watch this spectacle with the detachment of an anatomist or the imperturbable spectator. I watch it with a thousand questions and feelings of rage assailing me, with a hope of understanding in what way; these people determine my destiny, our destiny.

Our destiny, does it depend on universal laws or on a few individuals or nothing else? Being exposed to these vigorous election campaigns, playing on the idea of change and justice, I am reminded of the saying by Emma Goldman “if voting changed anything, they’d make it illegal.”

Here one cannot overlook the sacrifices of those innumerable individuals who marched hand in hand for democracy. But is democracy that simple definition we learnt in school? Who is there to say that they did not teach us lies at school? Or is it about making democracy a reality, a reality I long to live.

It’s an old dilemma, which no one has resolved or ever will. It is like that trap where each answer carries within itself its own contradiction. How can these few individuals who bring forth ideas, revolutions, and wars, those who make us take one road instead of another determine our destiny?

Bertrand Russell once wrote “Whether the populations of the world are to live or die rests with the decisions of Khrushchev, Mao Tse Tung and Mr. John Foster Dulle, not with ordinary mortals like ourselves. If they say “die”, we shall die. If they say “live” we shall live.” Maybe he is wrong but I cannot exclude the idea that our existence is decided by a few people, their dreams and will.

I do not understand the mechanism of power by which some men or women become invested with the right to rule over others and punish them if they do not obey. Of course to avoid chaos a group requires a governing authority but the tragic part is the need for an authority to be governed. Those who determine our destiny are not really better than us. They can be more ambitious and enterprising but they are neither more intelligent, nor enlightened nor stronger than us.

I do understand those who criticise and rebel against power imposed by brutality. I do understand the silence of those who do not react or who suffer at the hands of these powers, mostly misled and fooled by them.

Whether power comes from a treacherous general or an adored leader, I see power as a hateful and inhuman phenomenon.

We, the young population, everywhere in the world are viewed as impatient, disobedient and dissenters. There are some who acknowledge our thirst for justice, a word that has been exploited a lot; a word that is so utopian. Strolling on the Muhammad Mahmoud street in Egypt after the revolution and seeing the graffiti of all those young martyrs filled me with regret, a young person born in the year 1995 lost his life for what? He had a right to dream and discover.

Sadly, I don’t have any solutions. Anyone who has the solution in their pocket is a presumptuous fool. I only have an opinion which can be summed up in two letters NO. No to the vulgar disparities I witness every day. No to the false promises being made. I don’t want to be misled or fooled by the power structures which are so deep-rooted that I will be lost even if I try to trace that path. I want to think. People don’t think anymore, they feel.

“Watch your thoughts for they become words, watch your words for they become actions, watch your actions for they become habits, watch your habits for they become character and watch your character, for it becomes your destiny.”

———————————————————————————————————————————————— enter image description here

The author is a student of media studies, passionate and committed toward issues of human rights and social justice.

———————————————————————————————————————————————— The views expressed by this blogger and in the following reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the Dawn Media Group.


Your Name:

Recipient Email:

Author Image

Anam Gill is a journalist contributing articles to various dailies on different sociopolitical issues.

She works as a columnist for Education for Sustainability, a project of a UK based organization.

The views expressed by this writer and commenters below do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the Dawn Media Group.

Comments (20) Closed

Khan of Kalabagh May 08, 2013 12:14am

Khan of Kalabagh May 08, 2013 09:46pm

great words by the lady author, fully support your article.

Raju May 07, 2013 04:40pm
I do understand the desparity in the above words, it comes from continious oppression or insane governance. Democracy will definitely work out a change, if not like a magic wand atleast few oppressed sections will get benefit from it. We will atleast have lesser number of blasts, lesser number of crooks ruling us. Atleast we will have a choice to seek a better crook among the crooks contesting :). That is what we are doing in India currently. But, if atleast two terms are given for democracy, you will definitey witness significant change, first thing you will notice is confidence in your system and you will also win confidence of other countries too.
Parvez May 07, 2013 06:24pm
I thought that was very well written.
Rehan May 07, 2013 05:24pm
A universal law for the success of a country is keep the religion between oneself and God, practise it but leave it within the confines of home and the mosque. During the last century those countries which believed in putting the interests of their country first (but not their religions) excelled and came up with some of the most amazing discoveries and inventions which made life for ALL humans so endearing. But look at Pakistan, we could not even invent a simple thing like a modern sewing machine.
hyderphd74 May 07, 2013 08:44pm
We do not need to invent (or even do) any thing. We are Muslims---God's chosen people !!
Yahya May 08, 2013 03:41am
I think this is the best read article of my life. Kudos Gill, I wish all the youngsters have a glimpse of this article and feel the essence.
Asad Khan May 08, 2013 04:03am
Dawn's propaganda at its best. As IK so aptly said, "God will not change the condition of a society unless it rises itself". Pakistanis are fed up, and the fall of IK would perhaps carry PTI over the line. Pakistan will rise - ISA.
raana Irfan May 08, 2013 06:45am
The probability that we may fail in the struggle ought not to deter us from the support of a cause we believe to be just. - Abraham Lincoln
Sanwal May 08, 2013 07:38am
I agree with the writer somehow, voting does not change anything. It is the will of the nation that can change their destiny. If a nation is not willing then nothing can be changed by voting or dictatorship or kingdom. As an example, when people were determined in 1947 they got their own country. The nation has to be focused. Without focus what voting ("democracy") does is give people write to criticize (bad mouth) anyone they please. It takes away sobriety from the society, kingdom atleast brings manners and atticates in the society. Our nation is not ready to be focused on anything. For example some people think Taliban or friends and some think they are foes. We as a public are dying everyday and we are not focused on this important point then I guess we are not focused on anything. Success is not cheap, it comes with focus and hard working and we are not ready for it yet.
Ismail Strathmore (@SMBI) May 08, 2013 08:34am
The problem with the common man is he is short sighted, The writer desires a quick solution but life does not have quick solutions. Democracy is the best system but it evolves over time , we must abandon the desire to support a messianic thinking and believe in supporting democratic institutions. They are destined to provide a remedy overtime. Vote and vote again, democracy will mature it is our destiny it only takes time.
Jahan May 08, 2013 09:40am
Absolutely agree with you. However the people of 1947 were different, They were united and focused. The nation today has been fragmented into pieces by religious fervour which has taken precedence over anything else that are essential for nation building.
benny May 08, 2013 11:24am
true...a very good article indeed :)
Morts May 08, 2013 11:41am
The solution comes from understanding the problem. The problem is that far too few people use their common sense and education to understand the context that they live in. We live neither in the biologist's world, nor the legal world, nor the political world, nor the psychologist's world, nor the artist's world, nor the banker's world, nor the egotist's world, we live in God's world. And He is has made us to worship Him. Think about it...
Yousuf Panawala May 08, 2013 12:11pm
FULLY AGREED. If we hand over our destiny to persons who are not known to us- may be we are trying them BUT our greatest tragedy is we trust our destiny to those whom we have elected several times and suffered at their hands- even loosing bread and butter. IS IT NOT FOOLISH????
Rehan May 08, 2013 12:18pm
Sarcasm noted, thanks.
Mjay May 08, 2013 12:45pm
very well written anam. i agree to some of it, the power structures and how at the end of day, we the 'ordinary' people are no where near the heroes that perhaps we create ourselves. but it is also true that we need to have a leader, a governing body to control the evils mushrooming and growing in our society, a system of check and balance.
noni May 08, 2013 02:09pm
WRONG, leaders of the country make the nation .If there is curruption on higher level that ruins the country .Why are ppl behind Imran Khan .Nation can recognise a good leader .currupt laws doesnot = strong nation.
noni May 08, 2013 02:38pm
Yeah ,only a leader like Lincoln can say that and his nation can appreciate .
Sue Sturgess May 09, 2013 08:56am
Surely, anyone who creates other beings, to worship him, must be the ultimate egotist of all times!