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Raising our social consciousness


Pakistan hasn’t made an impact at the Olympic Games during the last many decades. Our athletes enter the competition but return home without medals. The recent attempt to clinch the gold by Pakistani weightlifter, Talha Talib, is a commendable feat.
The same drought of achievement is seen in other fields. Education is one of them. We hear about child prodigies scoring high marks at Microsoft exams but they fade away with time. Similarly, students scoring top positions in Intermediate and A-level exams seem to blend in with society and do not rise above the competition later in their lives. Students, who aspire and succeed in securing the highest grades when studying at the university, do not shine when they are working in the corporate sector.
Our social structure and consciousness may play a part in how we see ourselves in the future. Social structure is the list of principles emanating from and connected to the system of religion, philosophy, law, economics, politics, and culture. Social consciousness, on the other hand, is the consciousness shared by individuals and groups of society. It is based on self-awareness and the experience of collectively shared social identity.
We can pinpoint actions whether they are supported by a social structure or social consciousness. For instance, the aspirations to earn good grades are linked to structure. Students want to become a part of the elite group of students who secure top positions. On the other hand, students using illegal means to pass exams is because they do not abide by the social structure (religion, morality) or they accept that there is nothing immoral about cheating as students do or can cheat (social consciousness)
Social ills are prevalent because people have developed a collective consciousness to accept that such ills are bound to exist. For instance, people throw garbage at the roadside, in lanes, etc. They are socially conscious that such an act is acceptable – even if it is immoral – because everyone around them is doing the same and getting away with it.
Such acts also include driving on the wrong side of the road, bribery, lies, dishonesty, etc. Ever wonder why Pakistanis become law-abiding citizens when they go to the UAE or other countries? Unlike Pakistan, the social structure and consciousness about laws and justice in other countries is pretty strict. Pakistanis living in the UAE (and other countries) give high value to the structure (religion, law) and consciousness (self-awareness). They use seatbelts while driving because no one escapes the law if caught driving without using a seatbelt. The consciousness is that the law is equal for everyone. In Pakistan, the consciousness is to avert the law and bribe the officers when necessary to have the work done.
Our structure and consciousness develop as a result of our upbringing. It is a mix of the external stimuli we receive from our elders (parents, grandparents, siblings); our friends and cousins; our teachers, our subordinates and superiors (at the office). We absorb information, facts, advice, experience and combine them with our thoughts and experience to create a structure and consciousness. We feel to be committing a crime if we intend to go against this established set of rules.
Pakistan Olympic Association being unable to find and train athletes to represent Pakistan at the Olympics is a flaw in the social consciousness. Children are not motivated to take part in sports. They are expected to give maximum time to studies. Two notions prevail regarding students who play sports during school/college. One, they are going to end up getting low grades for they spend more time playing. Second, they will not have a future as Pakistan’s sporting fabric is not developed. Both points pertain to our social consciousness.
People consider it a fact that students spending time playing sports end up at the end of their class. A shining example is Palwasha Bashir. She is a 10-time Women’s Double Badminton National Champion and a business graduate from the Institute of Business Management (IoBM), Karachi. She excelled both in sports and studies. Students need to create a balance between their studies and education. They will be motivated to strike this balance if their parents and teachers support their cause.
Our youth will succeed in sports, career, and life if their social consciousness is focused not on “what happened when someone did it” but on “how can they do it!” Our elders (at home, school, office) need to facilitate the dream the youth nurtures. We have to collectively change our consciousness so that we can excel and make an impact in education, the corporate sector, and sports.