VALUES vs. PREJUDICES

VALUES vs. PREJUDICES

Written By : Bakhtiar Hakeem
All what I love, eulogize, praise and practice are values. And all what I despise, or reject and decline to do are prejudices. How simple! One established role of values is to develop socially enforced norms like integrity, accountability, and trust. So it is not as simple as it appears to be. Let us explore this simplicity verses complexity with an approach of a social scientist.

VALUES vs. PREJUDICES

 

A

 

ll what I love, eulogize, praise and practice are values. And all what I despise, or reject and decline to do are prejudices. How simple! One established role of values is to develop socially enforced norms like integrity, accountability, and trust. So it is not as simple as it appears to be. Let us explore this simplicity verses complexity with an approach of a social scientist. It has not been easy to define ‘value’ even for lexicons.[i]  We can develop a small bank of keywords, and terminologies to help venture further.

 

Values,

 

Core Values

 

Social

 

Values

 

Culture, Civilization

 

Justice &

 

Injustice

 

Love

 

Hatred

 

Moorings

 

Moral, Immoral

 

Origin

 

People,

 

Family

 

Clan

 

Kinship

 

Conservative

 

Liberal

 

Ethics

 

 

T

 

S

 

Angelic or Spiritual

Satanic or Self-centered Self Spiritual

A

 

here is an inferior self and a superior self. They are inseparable, two in one. There is a mundane self and a spiritual self. Born out of clay and mud[ii] I do have all the biological measures of life and animal instincts. That constitutes some of me, call it ‘S’. The beauty is that I do not stop or end here. He blew into me[iii], something which made me superior to all of His creatures. Later, He tested me in knowledge (names and, or definitions) and on successfully passing the test raised the level to be His viceroy.[iv] That was my Angelic self, call it ‘A’. And then He brought me here, and handed me His universe, leaving A and S to push, jab, punch and smash each other. Howsoever beaten, bruised and reduced to traces, none was designed to be eliminated. He left me and even let me to be my own God. Here lies the toughest of tests. What I am, a polished and modified form of apes, or son/daughter of a prophet? It is too huge a gap to be filled, too complex a riddle to be solved. He did and does try to help me through His injunctions[v], whether I learn from His Books, or ignore, or go against these by setting my own isms, theories, customs and traditions. It is all my choice and my options. It was and has remained a wholesome and complex affair; one can call it ‘the life’. I refer to a Punjabi master-piece by Faiz A. Faiz, ‘Raba Sachya’[vi]

 

 

J

 

ustice Charity, love and being liberal, all are values. These will all turn into prejudices, of course to varying degrees, when I start raising boundaries around them. I explain it further. Examine these boundaries. ‘Justice for some and for some period of time, or a one-time justice and, or using different set of laws for different people’. Now, read the last sentence by replacing ‘justice’ with ‘charity’, ‘love’ and ‘liberalism’. Weaker, lower and more porous the boundaries, less prejudicial it would be. When administration of Justice is based on widely accepted universal laws- it will be a ‘value’. And when Mr. Truman ordered to nuke the two cities of Japan, what was it for the children and unarmed civilians of USA and for those in those two cities of Japan? What a love and respect for the value of ‘human rights’!

 

So could be the value of charity. How do I decide to give charity? Where, to whom, and on which parameters; was it for my ‘family’, clan or caste. First come, first served is another value, great if it is practiced without hatred towards sunni and shia; while giving a piece of land for the construction of mosque. How about (Elections) casting of vote. What a significant exercise it is. It embodies a national cause. It catapults an insignificant common street urchin to a king maker. And when I cast my vote for an inferior and non-deserving candidate, knowing it to be such, do I practice value or prejudice? I did it only because he was a Warraich like me and, or came from Alipur Chattah, the town of my parents. So are the rules of elections for those in line; from thumb imprinter to Chief Election Commissioner. And just see Imran Khan has even involved CJ of Pakistan in his list of culprits. All are as much prejudiced as they trample the values of trust, justice, honesty and fairness.

 

F

 

amily is a great reference for love, care and sacrifice. All are invaluable, values. The moment it means a son or a daughter preferred over other, one wife ditched against other, and an uncle is invited while other is ignored– it turns into prejudices. And you are all aware of the word ‘step’ in the inventory of relations.

 

T

 

hroughout the last century, the western world remained divided on the basis of ‘origin’ and ‘roots’. His vice-regent was divided by race and ethnic groups, by language and areas, by castes and creeds and by religions and schools of thought. There were 70 different Bibles at one time, and Rousseau made fun of those. We are all familiar with Arabi and Ajami rift, so are famous divisions of Croats and Serbs, British and French, Sinahali and Tamil, Hutu and Tutu. How unequal were Jew and non-Jews in Nazi Germany![vii] All are good examples of prejudices. I wish these people and Muslim alike, could read, understand and assimilate the message of Quran 2:213 and 49:13. Similarly, for good two thousand years, unequal and unjust were the Israeli (Jewish) laws, for non Jews, till God sent Jesus Christ, pbuh. And today, if a Jew can only take birth from a Jew womb, who was Adam (pbuh) and how could first Jew come into being? Otherwise all of us are Jew,[viii]

 

Being conservative is an allegiance to a set of rules with a narrow lane, or a very limited choice to go off the line. I would dare call it value if boundaries, howsoever, narrow do not hate or punish those not following it. And when boundaries govern and draw and affect the choices for my person only; being conservative could be a value. However, I must not force, debar and punish others as long as universal values are not crossed. On the contrary there are clubs in West and East like naturalists, gays, and vegetarian, kosher food eaters etc, who do not accommodate others.

 

T

 

his takes me to the world of business. Here the issue of values and prejudices wear the cloak of business ethics. Here ‘ethics’ is followed by a more specific groove called ‘business ethics’, and even narrower, the term ‘stake-holder interests’. “The study of the general nature of morals and of specific moral choices; moral philosophy; and the rules or standards governing the conduct of the members of a profession.” that is how the American Heritage Dictionary defines ethics[ix]. And business ethics comprises the principles, values, and standards that guide behavior in the world of business[x]. There are a number of moral philosophies used in the business world. Namely these are; Teleology, Egoism, Utilitarianism, Deontology, Relativistic, Virtue Ethics and Justice[xi] Teleology and Utilitarianism stand apart, most widely. Worthy readers may explore further, satisfying their areas and levels of interests. Let us see what causes unethical behavior. David Gebler, says “Most unethical behavior is not done for personal gain, it’s done to meet performance goals”[xii]. One may ponder, how much and where lies the dictates and influence of personal values and ethics vis-à-vis that of corporate culture.

 

T

 

he Arabian peninsula of 5th and 6th century was a tribal society; where victim of a tribe could ask for blood-money or a life from the oppressor’s or killer’s tribe. Thus a whole tribe became a convict or oppressed tribe. And not reaching a settlement, two tribes declared to be at war; and feud went on. Value demands, that a killer is treated as a killer and only the culprit is punished through a court of law. And neither his father nor sons nor the tribe’s men are punished or made to bear the loss. But it goes on, posted by Mark Tran in the Guardian; Bush administration would consider Pakistan as an enemy if not with US[xiii]. May I draw your kind attention towards the feud between the tribes called Geo- Jang group and (Army) ISI!

 

W

 

ho can make the law or set and  prescribe principles? Tough question isn’t it. Simple answer is; a person or a representative or an authority who is not party. Who is it, or can be? It is Him alone. Legislative bodies, at least in Pakistan are bound to exercise their right of law-making only as an extension and under the proviso of His laws, staying within the  boundaries and hadood marked by him, all the time.   

 

Prejudices in the name of customs and traditions are loved and lived like values, and are dearer than life. Examine the crime history of last ten years of Jatoi-District Muzaffargarh. It only represents what goes on in areas spread over hundreds of square of miles, in Southern Punjab, Sind and Baluchistan. Pakhtun Wali is a code of life equally dear to Pakhtuns in KPK.  It is not only here, it is same the world over.

 

U

 

niverse belongs to Him. Mankind, the best out of His creature is the de facto Heir.  He has endowed him with the ‘value’, of rules of heritage, to ease the process of division and handing over of left-over. Of course the custom of Satti was one such implication derived by the prejudices of this ‘man’[xiv]. In certain civilizations it is the right of eldest son to get all[xv]. Here in Pakistan we are quite familiar with the laws of heritage. Will is one instrument, again a ‘value’. Will is to help guide as to how the legal heirs can and may use the left-behind of one passing away. Will is based on two fundamental rules[xvi]. These can be summarized as follows:-

 

a.                   One putting down his/her will, cannot increase or decrease the lawful share of a lawful or legal heir, and

 

b.                  One cannot exceed the use or utilization or disposal of more than 1/3 of the total left-behind.

 

I hope the predicament is solved through further study for those who never looked beyond ‘serving’ and ‘giving’ themselves and immediate blood relations. Prejudice steps-in, when one wishes to decide inheritance in life time. One tries and circumvent the values set by Him, the real owner.

 

A  

 

conclusion, cannot be easy for such a complex battle of A and S. It shall never be easy when one or a family or a group of people is governed by tight-jackets of customs, traditions and self-interests[xvii]; where formal education is never meant to question yesterday and the father or mother and the social boss; when certificates, degrees and academic laurels are not to make a person grow intellectually, but by physical property ?? How big the chunk is occupied by A, out of your total self? And how strong is A vs. S?

 



[i]   The Australian Oxford Dictionary runs over 420 words explaining the term ‘value’. Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary uses 220 words to explain Value as a noun.

 

[ii]  3 : 49; 6 : 2; 15 : 26 and 32 : 7 Quran, Translation by Abdullah Yusuf Ali

[iii]  ibid

 

[iv]  2 : 30 Quran

 

[v]  67:2, 76:2 and 45:12-13 Quran

[vi]  Faiz F. A., Naqsh-e-Faryaadi, , Lahore, Karvan Press, 1986

[vii] http://www.bl.uk/learning/histcitizen/voices/info/decrees/decrees.html  [The persecution of the Jews began systematically almost as soon as Hitler came to power. The Nazis established many new anti-Jewish laws. These were introduced slowly at first, so that the civilian population would not realise the extent of the Nazi party's anti-Semitism. Below is a chart showing a small selection of the 2,000 Nazi anti-Jewish decrees passed between 1933-1945. It is uncertain whether Hitler planned to murder the Jews when he came to power. Originally it seems he intended to force them out of Germany but this eventually led to a plan to exterminate the Jews.]

[viii]  4 : 1 Quran

 

[ix]  Ferrell, O. C., Fraedrich, J., & Ferrell, L.,  BUSINESS ETHICS: Ethical Decision Making and Cases,8 (ed), Ohio,   USA, South-Western Cengage Learning, 2011

 

[x]  ibid

[xi]  ibid

[xii]  ibid, chapter 7

[xiii]  www.theguardian.com/news/blog/2008/aug/18

[xiv] There was time when Satti was legal and widely practiced. It effectively prevented widow taking away any part of property, even the name of her beloved husband. A lot of improvement has since been made. Ref is made to Hindu Succession Act, 1956, amended in 2005. This act also abolished women ‘Limited owner’ statutes.

 

[xv]  Law of Solon, the eldest-son inherited the house and with it the cult of family ancestors. Demosthenes defended these special rights of eldest son.   

[xvi] Usman I., Mera Jeena Mera  Marna,(U) Islamabad, Al-Huda Publications, 2012

 

[xvii] Bakhtiar H, Customs Traditions and Personal Interests, Published in Issue No. 9, June 2010 ofBetter

Pakistan, a quarterly of Thinkers Forum Pakistan