I was watching a program on Bishop Desmond Tutu last night on BBC World, and couldn’t help thinking once again that we are in desperate need of a person of his commitment and stature to lead us out of this dark and tiresome tunnel of sectarianism and past injustices in order to welcome the future with open arms as one nation.
I have immense respect for Bishop Desmond Tutu for tirelessly working toward real social justice, for championing the poor, for uniting his country, and for being a catalyst for good to permeate within his society. I hold the same respect for other giants of his ilk like Mandela, and closer to home, the hundreds of people who have and continue to tirelessly and selflessly work for the better of this tiny country.
One thing that Tutu said in the interview really struck home with me: he simply said that there is no way for the oppressed to become free without the oppressor becoming free too!
We tend to forget about that and invariably just think of a single side to a story: we were oppressed, so let’s get revenge. We were the oppressed, so it’s our turn to rule. We were the oppressed, so we need to punish those who oppressed us.
Alas, listening to and learning from Bishop Tutu, this vicious cycle is really not the way because at best it is a very short lived solution. We need to move forward and the only real way of doing so is to reconcile our differences, forgive and not seek retribution. We need to create a truth and reconciliation commission much like Bishop Tutu’s, and be prepared to listen to the victims, get a clear and unambiguous apology from their oppressors, and let them go free. Let us seek true forgiveness in order for this country to move forward, because we have to be one nation, one heart, one mind and one love, because the alternative is just too painful to contemplate. We must achieve and perpetuate social justice in our society and never allow that platform to drift away from this ideal.
We need not go far from our shores to find our very own Desmond Tutu to help us through the path ahead because we have our own giants living amongst us; giants like Abdulrahman Al-Noami, Isa Al-Jawdar, Abdullatif Al-Mahmood, Ibrahim Sharif, Ali Salman, Hassan Madan, Rasool Al-Jishi, Abdulwahab Hussain, Hassan Mushaim’i, Isa Qassim amongst others who have proven their mettle and have struggled for social justice. These people are the backbone of the dignity of the human race, their names will forever be written in rich indelible ink in history and their communities’ collective memories and any one of them would be more than capable and welcome to preside over a truth and reconciliation panel to hold the hand of the nation and guide it into a better more hopeful future.
In my humble opinion, Isa Al-Jawdar could easily be the Bahraini Tutu. From what I know and read about him, Shaikh Al-Jawdar is an honourable person who enjoys immense respect throughout Bahraini society; therefore, him chairing a truth and reconciliation commission could be a lead to get us out of the impasse we find ourselves in.
All this because of what Bishop Tutu has said is absolutely true: we can only be free if we are free together, oppressed and oppressor, shia and sunna, Bahrainis regardless of personal faith; we can only be safe and secure together, we can only be prosperous together, and we can only be happy together. Continuing the divisive sectarian way of thinking will only lead to the destruction of the whole country and there will be no winner; both sects, everyone, will just be losers.
We must realise that to win a peaceful and honourable existence we must unite, we must be one hand, we must look after each other regardless of our own personal religious affiliation and in-spite of ambitious agitators.
It is time that we thought of reconciling our differences and try to remove that dividing line between us; let us all work to be One Bahrain, and let us only think of ourselves as Just Bahraini.
I realise that this is an extremely hard and onerous task; but don’t you think that unity is a worthy prize?