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Reaction generates consequences

Huzaima Bukhari

“The measures and acts which show us violently disposed towards the outer world can never stay without a violent reaction on ourselves.” ―Richard Wagner

Living things have a natural tendency to respond to stimuli which are in fact, rapid changes. This is an integral part of biological and emotional life that helps humans, animals, plants and trees to easily adapt to environmental variations. While response of non-living things (like Newton’s famous law of motion: “Every action has an equal and opposite reaction”) to a stimulus can be mathematically predicted, can reasonably be anticipated in animals but in the case of human beings, barring a few exceptions it is almost impossible to lay down universal laws, applicable to all in a given situation. Consequently, reactions can widely diverge from one person to another resulting in outcomes of many different kinds. These can be both positive and negative.

In our everyday life we come across many situations of social interactions where a curt reaction can result in unpleasantness, malice, disgust and even alienation. Some impulsive people do not think twice before reacting that at times, leaves them in very embarrassing positions. Although reaction is a natural phenomenon yet sensibility requires that lapse of a few seconds could help to avert irreparable damage. This is true especially in close relationships, in our work environment, in educational institutions, in politics, on the roads and in the shopping centres. In addition to other complications, these reactions can trigger off a chain of reactions that may spread from two individuals and engulf a large crowd causing an uproar with seemingly no end.

A number of rural as well as some urban weddings have been known to have converted in a bloodbath on account of extremely petty issues like dowry or mehr (dower) or even such an insignificant matter as an uninvited relative, poor quality of food, a crooked glance or an unsolicited comment. Even if there is no killing, there could be chances of the wedding breaking up, wrecking the lives of the bride and bridegroom what to talk of laying to waste money spent on preparations of the event.

Similarly, resorting to acid attacks or cutting off the nose, or making women march naked on rejection of a proposal or a failed marriage or any other grievance, are other forms of violent reactions. In such circumstances the victims are ruined beyond redressal and nothing can help to pacify their anger and fear. These types of criminality and such strong reactions have very far reaching effects sometimes leading to a series of revengeful acts that may involve many generations.

In a recent incident in Rawalpindi, a severe and destructive reaction pushed a young father of an infant in a coma. Defiance of law, particularly traffic laws is becoming a common practice in our country. As the incompetent traffic police looks on, motor bikes, cars rickshaws and other forms of vehicles blatantly ignore one way signs and freely drive on either sides of the roads or make opposing u-turns as it suits them. One teenager was doing exactly the same thing as evident from the footage caught on camera and was rightly reprimanded by this man who got out and spoke to the boy giving him a piece of his mind. Instead of feeling remorse, the boy waited till he walked back to his own car and in a fit of fury, reversed his car deliberately hitting him from behind, rendering him unconscious. A momentary tantrum of angry reaction jeorpadized the entire life of an otherwise healthy and happy human being just because he had the nerve to point out to a deviant and arrogant teenager, his mistake.

In educational institutions one can experience reactionary behavior of students and sometimes their parents for anything said or done by the teachers. Of course this could be justified in case where instructors overstep their limits, like cases of the students, as young as five years old, who were mercilessly beaten by their teachers. Had they refrained from venting out their rage, brilliant minds would not suffer permanent brain, physical or emotional damage.

There are innumerable cases of violence to young boys and girls engaged as domestic servants. On a minor issue of a missing broom, the wife of a sitting civil judge reacted in the most inhuman fashion beating the lights out of Tayyaba, a child servant. Much hue and cry was rightfully raised in the matter and the culprit was eventually fined and imprisoned for a whole year by the High Court.

These incidents portray very sick minds that may themselves be outcomes of reactions at someone else’s hands. Abusive or dictatorial parents or elders, lack of good grooming, ignorance, bad upbringing, neglected childhood plus a million other reasons could be instrumental in developing tempestuous characters that are quick to react in the most heartless ways. Had they gone through proper and noble phases of upbringing, inculcating compassion and love, they would have been taught to take a deep breath or count to 10 before contemplating a reaction but unfortunately, such people are too reckless in their approach and are prone to immediately display their response irrespective of its repercussions.

Time and again, emphasis has been laid on rule of law, observance of regulations, upholding of legal principles and a justice system that treats the weak and powerful alike, strict enforcement of laws without fear and favour and governance that takes into account the minutest problems faced by the public. With these things in place there is no room for volatile reactions to simple situations. A little restrain could go a long way in preventing irreversible harm to human beings and the society in general.


The writer, lawyer and author, is an Adjunct Faculty at Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS)

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