Updated: May 2, 2021
This is a multi-dimensional philosophical, sociopolitical, moral and ethical question we all pose in our lives. Let me state my standpoint on human relations.
I consider religion, nationalism, caste, tribe, language and all such cultural factors as GIVEN. When we are born we are already labelled with a name, a social marking, a state boundary and a language. THERE IS NOTHING FANTASTIC ABOUT THESE FEATURES. THEY ARE ACCIDENTS OF TIME AND SPACE.
The Golden Principle for leading a fair, open and non-manipulative life is to base life on Immanuel Kant's Categorical Imperative. It is a simple principle: I should not treat others in a way I do not want them to treat me. Now, this should apply universally and not selectively. It should be a duty and not an option to be respectful of others.
Friendship, associations, SEXUAL RELATIONS, political and ideological commitments - all should be based on the Categorical Imperative. The problem is that in heavily unequal societies there are bound to be very poor people and a few filthy rich and the rest somewhere in between. How do I treat a servant or someone else with respect? That is not easy when we also add the stigma of caste on the deprived communities. I have tried to apply this at both LUMS (Lahore University of Management Sciences) and GCU (Government College University, Lahore) with the people who were serving me. Some exploited me with false sob stories about their privations and deprivations and I would help them; only to learn later that I had been cheated. It made me angry but still, I continued to treat them with some fondness. A FEW TIMES I LOST MY TEMPER AND THE WORST IN ME CAME OUT but generally, I succeeded because MOST OF THEM WERE GOOD, DECENT, HARDWORKING PEOPLE TO WHOM LIFE HAD GIVEN A VERY ROUGH DEAL. If I brought some joy in their lives I should be very happy.
In Ideological and Political terms I would say that ONE WAY TO DEAL WITH THE PROBLEM OF FILTHY RICH AND ABJECT POVERTY IS TO TRY TO REMOVE AS MUCH AS ONE CAN SOCIAL AND ECONOMIC INEQUALITIES.
I believe a Universal Social-Democratic World Order can serve such a purpose very well. Perfect Equality and Perfect Freedom - both are Delusions. A balance between the two can create a Pluralist, Open Society where all economic policies and situations are under public scrutiny and we remove hunger and illiteracy and the problems of human suffering. WE NEED PEACE.
MAKE LOVE NOT WAR or if you like it to be less graphic: Love and do not fight.
Ishtiaq Ahmed is a Swedish political scientist and author of Pakistani descent. He holds a PhD in Political Science from Stockholm University. He is currently Visiting Professor at the Government College University, Lahore. He was a Visiting Professor at the Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS) during 2013-2015. He is Professor Emeritus of Political Science at Stockholm University. He is also Honorary Senior Fellow of the Institute of South Asian Studies at the National University of Singapore. He was a Visiting Research Professor at the Institute of South Asian Studies (ISAS), National University of Singapore and at the South Asian Studies Programme, National University of Singapore from June 2007 to June 2010. He is member of the editorial advisory boards of "Asian Ethnicity"; "Journal of Punjab Studies"; "IPRI Journal, Islamabad"; and "PIPS Research Journal of Conflict and Peace Studies, Islamabad