Distractions and Consequences


Several years ago abba told me a story about a young husband and wife who were famous for fighting so loud that it was easily heard a few houses away. This had been going on since the couple were married, and at first people would always ask if this modern young couple hate each other so much, why don’t they just divorce? Of course things are not so simple. The husband and wife had a large family that they cared for, and a divorce would be devastating to them. Both the husband and the wife played important roles in the community also – he was a doctor and she was a social worker – so the entire community would suffer if one of them left. There were surely other reasons behind their constant fighting – both were stubborn and ambitious and refused to admit when they were wrong. As I said this had been going on for many years and had become almost part of the routine of the neighborhood. People would gossip about it, but when strangers seemed shocked or puzzled, everyone would just shrug. “It’s just how they are.”

The incident that happened a few years ago, though, caused something of a surprise. One night the husband and wife started in on their usual fighting and yelling. People who lived nearby moved onto their verandas to quietly listen, laugh, and gossip among each other about who had wronged who and who was going to win the latest round. While everyone was distracted by the regular bickering, a group of dacoits went from home to home stealing valuables. The next morning, the people who lived near the husband and wife awoke to find missing their cash, jewelry, and even some computers. Everyone had become so routinely distracted by the bickering couple that they didn’t notice when thieves were walking through their own homes while they sat gossiping on their verandas!

I was reminded of this story a few days ago when the Supreme Court announced its verdict against the PM. 30 seconds of detention, apparently for something that wasn’t even included on the charge sheet. As usual, the Court left the outcome ambiguous and it promises to drag on and on for months if not years. The same day, a suicide bomber blew himself up in Quetta. Only nobody noticed because everyone was too busy talking about PM’s case.

Nobody was killed but the terrorist himself alhamdulillah, but the attack should give us great pause nonetheless. What does it mean, after all, when a suicide bomber walks into our backyard and blows himself up and it fails to attract anyone’s attention? We have become like the people in abba’s neighboring village who became so distracted by the regular drama of the bickering husband and wife that we are ignoring the thieves and killers who are wandering through our house?

There is a lot of cheap talk about ‘revolution’ lately. The revolution we need, though, is one inside ourselves. We need to stop paying attention to petty distractions and start paying attention to the thieves in the house.


Author: Mahmood Adeel