It is 5:50 a.m. I just got back into my chair after laying in bed for about an hour. I could not sleep. I kept thinking about my research, the books I have to read, learning the Turkish language, women, fear of death from Coronavirus, my family, and my career as a professor.
That is a lot for an exhausted brain after a long day and night. But these thoughts come and don’t stop, sometimes. They make me hyperactive. I read almost the entire day but it still did not feel enough. Such is the life of a grad student. While laying in bed, I kept thinking that I should read more.
Before retiring, I read the book by Darwish Durrani on the lifestyle of Pashtuns for about an hour. Durrani talks about myths in Pashtun and other cultures such as Indian and Greek. He says that myths are the creation of the human mind about things that they could not or can not understand.
Myths have been there for as long as humans have existed. But with passing time, Durrani argues, humans have developed logos and there seems to be less tendency to rely on mythos because man now can explain many things that occur in life and the reason(s) behind them.
It is true. I live close to New York City. Every time I go there, it reminds me of Durrani’s idea. New York City is the most magnificent creation of the human mind. Man does not need to rely on some mythical figure such as a god to explain the reason behind this wonderful invention. He knows he did it.
That is true almost about everything we see in the human world: airplanes, bridges or a novel piece of art. Man is the god of their creation. The word Logos comes from Greek philosophy and was referred to in the writing of Aristotle. For Aristotle, logos meant the use of logic or reason.
While writing these lines, I am also thinking it is such joy to read the history of human development toward civilization and the cultural history of the Pashtun society in Pashto. His book lies on the table by my bed and I have made it a ritual to read it every night before I fall asleep.
His knowledge has made me realize that Pashtuns have intellectuals and philosophers. Durrani has a very enlightened view of world history and religion. His perspective is progressive and offers a very balanced critique of Pashtun culture.
While reading him, I have also realized that we need more thinkers and philosophers like Durrani. Pashtuns won’t progress without education, science and philosophy. They need to renegotiate their identity with the modern world.
They can not advance unless they reform the ideology and practice of regressive religion. In this, the role of the cleric has been the most instrumental. The cleric has destroyed Pashtun culture. Pashtuns need to reclaim their lives from the cleric.
It is not going to be easy but the alternative is heading toward further ignorance and darkness. The proof of this kind of ignorance and darkness is the recent news coming out of Pakistan and Afghanistan, where many Pashtuns believe the coronavirus is God’s punishment and only he can and will cure it.
These people say that there is no need to fear this pandemic because life and death are in God’s hands. These same people also preach that God is the most merciful and loving, but he just sent a pandemic to punish the people he loves the most. Does that makes sense? No, it does not.
This is just one example of how flawed the thinking of our people has gone. It is time to realize that there is no space for this kind of medieval ideology in the modern world. This primitive thinking needs to change before it further harms the people now and the future generations.