From wisdom to folly, signs of societal deterioration


In an era where technology dictates the contours of our daily lives and cultural expressions, it is lamentable that we find ourselves celebrating mediocrity and folly. This century, indeed, seems to be a testament to the adage “this is the age of the fool’s reign.” The alarming popularity of a song like “BadoBaddi,” which has garnered 20 million views, half of which are from Pakistan, is a stark illustration of this phenomenon. It begs the question: what has happened to our collective conscience and cultural taste? Have we addressed the worldly problems, or are we just counting our days, leaving it to the whims and caprice of nature? The answer is difficult, indeed!
In examining why figures devoid of talent and substance capture our admiration, it becomes apparent that our cultural values have shifted. Historically, societies have revered intellectuals, artists, scientists, and philosophers, who contributed meaningfully to advancing knowledge, culture, and morality. Today, however, the situation appears inverted. Our heroes are no longer scholars or innovators; instead, they are TikTokers, YouTubers, and so-called influencers whose primary currency is spectacle and superficiality.
This shift signifies more than just a change in taste; it reflects a deeper moral and intellectual decline. Various shows and major media outlets promoting such triviality only exacerbate the problem. The glorification of untalented individuals over scholars, saints, scientists, and educators is a troubling indicator of where we, as a society, have placed our priorities.
Media, with its pervasive reach, wields significant power in shaping societal norms and values. When media platforms prioritize sensationalism over substance, they inadvertently endorse a culture of mediocrity. The promotion of frivolous content serves to dumb down public discourse, replacing meaningful dialogue with vacuous entertainment.
This focus on triviality distracts us from pressing issues and stymies intellectual growth. Influenced by this pervasive media culture, the youth are conditioned to value fame over substance. Figures like Akhtar Lava and Hareem Shah become their role models, not because of any remarkable achievements or contributions to society, but simply because they have mastered the art of attracting attention. Consequently, everyone has Facebook but no one has courage to face the book!
One of the most disturbing aspects of this cultural shift is the decline in intellectual curiosity. No preference for reading culture is one vivid example. Our disinterest in scholars, scientists, and economists is symptomatic of a broader societal malaise. Intellectual endeavors require effort, discipline, and critical thinking – qualities that are increasingly undervalued in our fast-paced, digitally-driven world.
This intellectual apathy has dire consequences. When we neglect the contributions of those who advance knowledge and understanding, we undermine the very foundations of progress. Our future depends on our ability to innovate, solve complex problems, and navigate the ethical challenges posed by new technologies. By turning our backs on intellectual pursuits, we are, in essence, handicapping our potential for future growth and development.
The moral decline accompanying this intellectual decay is equally concerning. The celebration of frivolity and superficiality erodes our moral standards. We become desensitized to crassness, vulgarity, and sensationalism. The consequence is a society that increasingly tolerates, and even celebrates, behaviors that would have been considered reprehensible in the past.
Moral standards serve as the bedrock of any society. They guide behavior, foster social cohesion, and ensure the welfare of all citizens. When these standards are eroded, society becomes fragmented and unstable. The rise of figures who exemplify base values over virtuous ones is a clear indication of this erosion.
To address these issues, a cultural reformation is imperative. We must re-evaluate our values and priorities, placing a renewed emphasis on intellectual and moral development. This begins with education – both formal and informal. Educational institutions must strive to cultivate critical thinking, intellectual curiosity, and ethical reasoning in students. Beyond the classroom, media and cultural institutions must also play a role in promoting substantive content that inspires and enlightens.
Parents and educators need to instill a sense of appreciation for knowledge, creativity, and moral integrity in the younger generation. Celebrating achievements in science, art, literature, and philosophy can provide alternative role models who embody these values. Additionally, we must demand higher standards from our media, advocating for content that challenges the mind and uplifts the spirit.
In the context of Pakistan, fostering a sense of national consciousness and pride in our rich intellectual and cultural heritage is crucial. We have a long history of contributions to art, science, and philosophy. Reconnecting with this heritage can provide a counter-narrative to the current culture of frivolity.
Celebrating figures like Allama Iqbal, Shah Abdul Latif Bhitai, Sachal Sarmast, Bullay Shah, Faiz Ahmed Faiz, and Manto inspire a new generation to aspire and combat superficiality. Policymakers can support cultural reform by promoting education, intellectual pursuits, and enrichment, incentivizing research, artistic endeavors, and educational excellence.
The celebration of fools in this century is not merely a passing trend; it is a symptom of a deeper malaise that threatens our intellectual and moral foundations. Addressing this issue requires a concerted effort from all sectors of society. Media, educators, parents, and policymakers must work together to cultivate a culture that values substance over spectacle.
We must strive to revive our intellectual curiosity and moral integrity, recognizing that our future depends on our ability to think critically, innovate, and uphold ethical standards. By doing so, we can ensure that the next generation inherits a society that celebrates wisdom, creativity, and virtue rather than mediocrity and folly. Only then can we hope to reverse the current trajectory and build a future worthy of our potential. May Allah grant us the wisdom and national consciousness to achieve this noble goal.