I feel for Bangladesh every day. It is slowly getting close to the cusp of an upward spiral. A lot of positive indicators are out there. Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about how I can feel motivated to come back to Bangladesh.
The question that plagues my mind is— how can I feel ‘proud enough’ of my country to be able to do that?
Vivekananda always said that we cannot feel this pride and patriotism because we don’t know our history. I consider him as one of the most refined minds ever to walk on this earth and motivate the mortal existence of all humanity.
I think he had a point. We have to have a sense of history and know where Bengalis by way of the civilization of the Indo-Gangetic plains stood in the spectrum of all civilizations of the world.
I’d urge folks to read a bit of Tagore and Vivekananda and Western philologists like Max Muller and Sir William Jones. Bengal was one of the key centers of learning of early Buddhism when some of its fundamental concepts were being formed.
Today’s advanced nation Japan and fast-emerging China drew heavily from Buddhism to formulate their systems of thought. During the British Raj, Bengalis dictated the intellectual current of India. Recently Bengali language has been established as one of the oldest derivative languages based on Sankrit dating back to the Mayurian Empire.
We shouldn’t forget that we have a very sophisticated culture driven by this rich and expressive language. People are very intelligent, caring and philosophically introspective – key qualities needed to build a complete human being.
We also have to note that poverty can build character and it is not all bad. Like the strongest steel is forged in the hottest fire, decades of grinding poverty has actually given us the potential to emerge as some of the most balanced and coolest folks in the world!
We may even have answer to the latest expression of the moral void of the developed Western world through Brexit and Trump, a void that was long in the making as a result of the particularistic view of life they always espoused.
Vivekanda’s pure mind had a feeling of these pitfalls of Western thought. And I feel that inexpressible feeling of his every time I watch the video of his speech in the World Congress of Religions in Chicago in 1890 where he started by saying ‘India has a message for the world today’.
We have to train our mind to see through the obvious travails of our tough existence, suspending our judgment about all the perceived discomforts of life in this developing country and focus on the beautiful things we have and always had as a nation. Foreigners see that in us every day.
When we can all (not just expats) command a certain clarity of thought and hark back to this rich heritage of ours, I know and believe that we cannot but feel very proud to be a Bengali/Bangladeshi.
And only that pride can be the giver of that inner strength to ignore the toils of life in Bangladesh right now and motivate an expat like me and many others to come back and build this awesome country of ours.
About 150 million minds with the agency of as many pair of hands, will have a message for the world soon. I don’t want to miss out on this amazing journey we are starting. ■