Battlegrounds known and unknown
Why violence is always about to break out
Bangladesh has always been a country at the edge of reaching boiling point.
It doesn’t take much to realize that either — a simple glance outside your window can often reveal the palpable anger bubbling beneath the surface.
From the neighbourhood aunty screaming at her own children in an ill-fated attempt at parenting, to the constant sound and fury that is our ungodly level of traffic.
Of course, I say this as a denizen of Dhaka, one of the most crowded cities in the world. Perhaps the people outside the city are more serene and friendlier to others — that’s how they’ve been portrayed in years and years of Bangladeshi natoks, after all.
All it took was a leaked Facebook chat log (from a hacked account, no less) for that illusion to break.
Look, there is no denying it. There is a lot of tension between Bangladeshis at an individual level as it is, but that tension also has a habit of extending to groups.
While the situation in Bhola was diffused rather succinctly and with relative success by our law enforcers (a small platoon going up against a sea of hundreds of violent protestors is the stuff of fiction), we cannot deny the fact that communal tensions are well and alive in our country.
Tension gives way to hate, and hate gives way to violence. It’s natural.
Whether through race, creed, or even the colour of one’s skin, we Bangladeshis have a natural inclination to otherize not just outsiders, but our own kind as well.
Even though there’s no such thing as a World Hatred Report, or something along those lines for me to back up this claim, it is nonetheless an incontrovertible truth that we need to recognize.
Keeping the peace is one thing, but is there anything more long-term that we can do to stop our own people from killing each other?
Taking a page out of the Chinese Handbook for Crowd Control, the government made the ultimately misguided, and thankfully short-lived, decision to ban one of the most popular modes of virtual entertainment currently making waves with the teens: Player Unknown’s Battlegrounds.
A video game that presents players the opportunity to shoot and/or bludgeon each other to death — in a virtual equivalent to Kinji Fukasaku’s excellent film Battle Royale (where the sub-genre got its name from) — fell under the radar of our government as possibly “leaving negative psychosocial impacts on the youth.”
I am not even going to attempt to cite any of the thousands of studies which have been carried out worldwide on how playing video games (despite how violent they can be) actually has a positive impact on lowering players’ inclination to commit real-life violence.
All I’ll say is that American lawyer (and self-proclaimed activist) Jack Thompson was disbarred for his ceaseless and expensive attempts to smear video games as a blight on humanity, among other reasons.
Banning an avenue of catharsis in an attempt to curb violence makes no sense. And I’m glad that the government lifted the ban sooner rather than later.
A nation is not defined by the quality of its air or which direction of the political compass its government swings.
A nation is defined by its people. And only the ones sitting in their ivory towers, comfortable in the relative safety they provide, would deny that we are as violent as we’ve ever been.
Rubaiyat Kabir is an Editorial Assistant at the Dhaka Tribune. He can be followed on Twitter @moreanik.