Are You on Survival Mode?

Driving on a small two-way road, a car with high beams switched on renders me partially blind for a moment, and I cannot help but wonder why the driver is so insensitive. Perhaps it’s because he forgot to switch the extra lights off, or maybe he couldn’t care less about the discomfort he’s causing others. It could also be that the driver genuinely needed the lights. I can’t be sure. But when I see more than a few pairs of beams flashing on cars passing by, I can’t help but conclude that people in Karachi are insensitive.

Being selfish is one thing, but being clueless about everyone else’s discomfort is worse. And that’s what’s happening to us.

Each day we do so many things to prove how selfish we have become. We take our time getting dressed for a party because we decided that we will reach late. We don’t need to think about what this means for the hosts and their plans to serve dinner at a particular time. Neither do we care about how much further this will push a child’s bedtime because we don’t have kids to worry about. We just do what suits us at the time.

“I need to reach work before my boss arrives or else he will fire me!!” So we take a wrong turn and speed away, leaving in our wake complete chaos for someone else to sort out. “I just need to grab two things from the supermarket and I’ll be back in a minute!” And we double park our car, blocking another and causing someone great inconvenience.

“Excuse me, I’m ready to order.” We cut into the line at the counter because we know what we want to eat. We conveniently ignore the long line at the counter and people waiting for their turns, warranting nothing but angry glares and frustrated customers.

Do we do any of this out of spite or on purpose? I’d like to believe not. I think each of us is on auto-pilot, doing what is best for our own selves, following the basic rule of ‘survival of the fittest.’ Every single day we do so many things that aren’t right, but we do it anyway because we don’t even realize that our actions may have unpleasant consequences for others.

I’d like to think that Karachiites are simply on Survival Mode, and acting on instincts rather than anything else. A moment of realization might help us all to check our actions before we cause trouble for anyone else.

It’s the little things like emptying food trays in the trash can after a meal, not pushing your friends out of a selfie, driving in the middle lane if we’re going to drive slow, and being conscious about our general surroundings that can help us switch off our survival mode for a while and become more responsible citizens of Karachi.

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