Two of the videos that went viral on social media over the past few weeks, provoked a healthy debate on future direction of our socialization process. One of them showed a truly gifted artist, carrying a Sindhi attire, performing mystic traditional dance on Bulleh Shah’s sufi verses on a street in some western city. There were different views about artist’s identity, some said he was a professional artist from Karachi and some thought it was Mir Bhutto, grandson of late prime minister, Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto. Whosoever the artist happens to be, his performance is simply splendid. One doesn’t feel like getting into any controversial debate about it. If we believe that it is Bhutto Jr., it means the promising scion of a traditionally political elite family has the inclination towards Sufi traditions and their universal message of humanism, that is a real positive indication. Adversely the comments on the video showed the disapproval by many viewers. They thought it was a degrading moment for the Bhutto family. Dancing, even if depicting the sufi genre, projects you as unfit for a leadership role (we aren’t even sure if junior Bhutto is interested in political leadership), brings disgrace to your family and makes you less of a man. The standards of masculinity portray a man in our culture as essentially stiff necked, muscular, tough looking and ‘rough speaking’. An inclination towards fine arts ‘reduces’ you to a womanish entity. My experience with an all-boys school environment showed that being able to use abusive language based on patriarchal references, is considered a sign of maturity and manhood. As early a boy learns and gets acquainted with those specific jargons of manhood, he joins the club of the real men. The ones who are reluctant to get benefitted from this learning process are labelled, “mommy’s boy”. In many apparently educated families, I have seen elders taking pride in a child’s use of abusive words as a sign of confidence. This behavior pattern develops the perceptions towards leadership models and becomes a defining factor of political culture. We start expecting our leaders to be rough in their outlook and mannerism. A leader is preferably supposed to be a male. It’s interesting how we have to borrow masculine references to portray a woman’ strength, the lady is courageous, outspoken or independent ‘like a man’. Being soft spoken, well mannered, having a respectful demeanor and showing soft skills doesn’t qualify you for a leadership role. Occasional instances when a leader is found singing or dancing in a private gathering, is received with mixed responses including derogatory remarks. The poetic references that a leader gives in his political speeches or statements have to be the ones that convey crude nationalistic pride. A little bit of light singing by an otherwise stern looking leader can sometimes be exempted as a sign of benevolence for the masses culture. Our political socialization process inculcates an obsession with a construed definition of masculinity that transcends to our perception of a ruler’s personality. If you belong to a political family which has been in rule and aspires to continue being in rule, you must not show any signs of softness and dancing is too off track for you. That brings disgrace to the political legacy of your family. In another popular video, a six-seven years old child is seen being rude to his class fellows and teachers. He is firm in his commandments and presents a strong dissent to any signs of noncompliance. He doesn’t use any words of courtesy like ‘please’ , ‘could you’ or ‘may I’. He is simply in the habit of bullying everyone around. Interestingly, rather alarmingly, the child’s behavior is being projected as ‘cute’ and ‘innocent’. At this raw age this little boy is definitely innocent and not responsible for his own grooming. It’s the domain of his parents and other family members to teach him basic courtesy and help him grow up to be a gentleman. Tragically, his behavior has been endorsed by the popular media as something positive and in fact he has been invited to some television shows and asked to display his rudeness and bad manners, which are applauded by an amused audience. This behavior pattern is actually the exact opposite of what we were once supposed to teach our children. If we trace the roots of our political culture, the ideological references from religious history clearly show instructions to avoid foul language and a reward for those who are well behaved and kind to others. The founding father, Muhammad Ali Jinnah is known for his gentleman mannerism. Culturally the civilization rooted in Urdu literature, which by virtue of being the national language is relatable in all parts of the country, infuses an adherence to high standards of courtesy and social etiquette. The literary heritage of all regions included in contemporary Pakistan is derived from a rich asset of Sufi thought that advocates humility and kindness. Let’s confess that somewhere on the road towards technological development and exposure to different media, we lost track of our civilizational identity. Different social and political movements generated a culture of resistance which due to lack of literacy crossed limits of basic courtesies. Years of state censorship frustrated the media as an agent of political socialization. If we trace the roots of our political culture, the ideological references from religious history clearly show instructions to avoid foul language and a reward for those who are well behaved and kind to others. The founding father, Muhammad Ali Jinnah is known for his gentleman mannerism. Culturally the civilization rooted in Urdu literature, which by virtue of being the national language is relatable in all parts of the country, infuses an adherence to high standards of courtesy and social etiquette Whenever, in whatever situation, they could ‘speak up’, they preferred to ‘shout’. Even if in a romantic scene a lover is expressing love for her beloved, the male character was depicted as stiff and least interested or the masculinity of character will be lost. The message was conveyed to the masses that in order to make your point you need to be essentially loud. Bhutto or any other name related to political arena must be comprehensively militaristic and patriarchal in outlook. Any compromise on that means bringing disgrace to power paradigm associated with politics and manhood. Children capable of bullying others are going to assume leadership roles in future. Shouting is convincing and the road to success. The soft ones are the weak ones. The practice of ill-mannerism has been proudly taken up by politicians, religious scholars and media personnel alike. We have prepared our own interpretations and justifications for all kinds of use of bad words. Being abusive is being powerful. Since you have acquired a status where you can make others subservient to your commands, you have the license to kill others with your words. Amidst all the ongoing debates on political and economic mess we are in, I strongly recommend the need to revisit our social narrative. I won’t take names here, but over the past few years the kind of use of language by different elite sections of society can prove fatal to whatever value system we are left with. We have to discuss our priorities for social norms and who defines these priorities. Is a dharna fame Maulana’s peculiar use of language our agreed defining value system or is it a revival to Bulleh Shah’s narrative? Illmon bus Karin o yaar. The writer is an assistant professor of Political Science at Kinnaird College. Her email firstname.lastname@example.org Published in Daily Times, October 29th 2018.