Until recently, the murmurs were slightly under the breath. It was a mere shrug of the shoulder and a twitch of the eye which was usually followed by an intellectual comment. Life went on for whatever it is worth till the topic ever came up again. One would go on talking about the children and their achievements or their struggles. A grandchild here and a wedding there and smiles would spread. That was some time back. It now feels like years ago. The murmurs have become groans and shouts, with the same people having lost the patience, for reasons well known, and are abusive of both the state and opposing factors, for they say all are like the flip sides of the same coins. Optimism and a sense of free spirit are missing from the eyes of people. The roads show signs of the trauma and stress that Pakistanis are facing today. Chaos in traffic shows how stressed out we all are. The sense of giving which I was so proud of has fled from our hands and people do not want to indulge in acts of kindness for they do not feel the inner peace that once prevailed. It concerns me because this is the environment our children are growing up in. Suffocating and pertinent enough to be talked about, and contemplated upon in the times of unrest. There are two reflections when we look in the mirror. One is the individual himself and the other is those we choose to rule us. At both levels we have not developed beyond the stage of drooling over ourselves. We must be the only nation where we cannot see our mistakes and therefore find no reason to develop aesthetically or otherwise. Bravo I was driving past a graveyard a couple of days ago and saw three roadside restaurants running next to the wall of the graveyard. The tables and chairs were lined up against the wall and children and grown up men and women were grinning and enjoying the good meal. That no one thinks it is insensate or strange to be served food while sitting ten yards from a grave is disturbing to say the least and repulsive to say it as it should be. With no leader to look up to for inspiration and no one to educate the mobs about right and wrong, we are left with what can be called a residue of human waste. Those of us who resort to thinking of the reasons as to why we are destined to be ruled by such people year after year, the answer could be closer to home than we thought. We chose them, cheered them and so in some odd way, deserve them. By owning up to them we may be able to learn the hard way. Otherwise this mistake will be repeated whenever we have elections. Something I am not looking forward to at all for lack of choice between the devil and the deep blue sea. At an Urdu conference at Heidelberg, Germany, a letter dated back 1500 years and written by Hazrat Ali (AS), to the newly appointed Governor of Egypt, was read out and became an inspiration for Dr Patricia Sharpe, who co-related the contents of the letter to the US political system which is and can be further based on the principles of good governance for the betterment of its people. Hazrat Ali (AS) advised the governor that his administration will succeed only if he governs with concern for justice and equity. Unfortunately our leaders do not indulge in this practice at all. Most importantly, Hazrat Ali (AS) states the importance of an honest judiciary which must be above any executive pressure. It is a food for thought as the day ends and another dawn waits within its folds. The writer is a freelance columnist