An expatriate brings most of the keys traditional and cultural values with his/her physical being. 15 years ago, when I was a native in Bangladesh, the Victory Day, December 16, was an inseparable part of my life. Special programs on television, songs of 71 coming from local loud speaker organized by political party and vivid hanging posters along the express way adorn the city at a festive mode on the occasion of December 16. Even though last 15 years, the Fourth of July and its fireworks have integrated into my life, still I cannot ignore the craving for December 16. Every year I expect BABA (Bay Area Bangladeshi Association) will organize a local fair for us , I will go there wearing a lal-sobuj saree and meet others while having my cup of tea with Sheeter Pitha. At least in my life time, the Victory Day will not be faded away. Because it is an inspirational day for me, it reminds me that I am a member of the second largest ethnic group in the world. I am not alone.
Neither I know all the days over the year our previous generation used to celebrate in their life time, nor I know my USA born children will ever celebrate the Victory Day during their adulthood. It is obvious that we evolve culturally and mentally. Which is very essential for me is to pass the information to our next generation so that there will be no vacuum in the generation gap. Usually expatriates are survival and ambitious. We secretly dream that our next generation will break the glass roof in order to be part of the power and business class. That’s why we want them to be American. So far I don’t get a straight forward definition of being American. Theoretically USA is a melting pot. Americans are bonded by some national holidays and celebrations like fourth of July, Halloween, Memorial Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas. But the true fact is diversity is one of the strengths of its dominating economy. The main stream American life is also constantly changing by adding more flavors into its distinctive fruit-salad alike society. Now we are very familiar with Chinese New Year and Diwally. But still when an Indian-American has won Miss America 2014 pageant, Twitter has been flooded with racist comments. Good news is American values are against racism. Free speech doesn’t mean hate speech in USA. Our next generation is aware of it. The vital western philosophy is individualism. Everyone is considered of an enormous source of potential. That’s why making human a idol is absent here. Albert Einstein once said that “Everyone should be respected as an individuals, but no one idolized.”
Back home, we grew up in a communal environment. Our politics is idol-centric. Most of the middle class Bangladeshis are opinionated on everything, but their voice cannot reach beyond the boundary of their own living room. To me, our logics are emotionally biased. This is one of the reason behind our short distance voice. The other day I have had a discussion with my son about Bangladesh’s Victory Day. It was a really eye-opener conversation for me. After all he is growing up in USA and thinking neutrally.
“Tell me about Bagladeshes Declaration of idelendender?”, My son has asked.
I became very confused. From where I should start. I told him about March 7, 26, 27. I told him about Shaikh Mujib, Mejor Zia, first prime minister Tazuddin, General Osmani, Vasani and so on. But it seemed like he didn’t get his answer. Later on I have figured out his interest was ‘WHAT’ where as I am giving him the answer of ‘WHO’.
“Mammy, you know the United States Declaration of Independence, particularly the second sentence: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equally, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.’ Like this one, what is the motivating sentence for the general people?”
“Actually our declaration just said that we had to fight with our two hand until freedom comes. There is no mention of what would happen next. Longsighted views haven’t been practiced in our politics. Rather than last 40 years we have been noticing backward view like WHO declared the independence has divided our nation into two extreme end. I have answered your question in my way. Because back home, I was always a part of swing voters. The ‘WHO’ part actually doesn’t matter to me at all.”
“It sounds like Galliver’s Travel.”
“Lilliput and Blefuscu are fighting over Little-Endians and Big-Endians.”
I know he is not wrong. From a distance it looks like a homogeneous nation is trying to be divided into racial tribes so that they can hate each other. A total wastage in terms of time, energy, security, above all, the prosperity as an individual or as a whole country.
Western individualist culture is very honest to give everybody a fare distinctively share and credit of big achievement goes to the communal authority. For example, the credit of it’s unique Declaration of Independence goes to the Continental Congress. On the other hand, eastern communal culture is sustained by creating a idol and making the rest invisible. In this discussion, I don’t like to share a judgmental view by telling that this culture is better over that one. But I must say when we see that innocent people are burning on the way to their workplaces or schools, no double our deep down values need to be refreshed. How does it happen?
Like waterfalls, values cascade from top to bottom part of the society. When George Washington was asked to be crowned in the free America, he simply refused by telling that we didn’t fight for getting another king. When the idol wants to be the part of community, it makes everybody especial and respectful. Yes, we want to be respectful. Eventually it will make generous to respect others. Hatred ignites fire and respect extinguish it. We have seen enough infernos, isn’t it the time for putting it down? When it will happen, we’ll call it our final Victory Day.