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Combating Extremism through Collective Change

Exerting a pervasive, deep-seated opposition to notions of peaceful existence and global harmony, extremism has succeeded in rocking nations to their core. Daily headlines reporting casualties and deaths arising from insurgency have become a norm – so commonplace that they fail to generate any emotion from the masses. So many instances of terror have rocked the nation, that human lives lost have become just a number; we have become desensitized to the violence around us and such apathy cannot allow an already troubled nation to prosper.

At a time when desensitization overpowers the ability to feel, collective action must be taken, and taken immediately. FATE – From Apathy to Empathy represents an attempt to change the way the current state of affairs are accepted passively. Organized by students of Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS), ‪this effort aims to transform the widespread indifference and resignation prevalent among people regarding the exacerbating degrees of extremism into more positive forces like concern, hope and activism. These students under the mentorship of Dr.Taimur Rehman, activist and Laal band member, have been making a conscious effort to spread their message.

Celebrity endorsement is a huge factor in the success of a brand, whether it may be commercial or even a public service message. Hence, these individuals approached Jibran Nasir, a political and social activist who reaches out to the youth to sponsor their message to great success. Very recently, they had renowned lawyer and activist, Asma Jahangir come to LUMS for a talk of challenging extremism through empathy and activism which was extremely insightful. Their Facebook page is a hub for videos and articles which make one realize that change is possible. What they share are videos of simple acts that people around the world are doing to counter extremism and in their own way deal with the terror ridden world we all live in.

While Pakistan prides itself on its booming industry of arts and music since its inception, acts of violent insurgency have threatened to overcome this national culture, subjecting people to retreat indoors in fear of being targeted by terrorism. Pakistani artists that we were so proud of were forced to perform in other countries since, such mass gatherings were deemed as unsafe. As part of its campaign to challenge extremism, FATE – From Apathy to Empathy collaborated with Vilarto to launch a musical evening, with the biggest name in Pakistani music, Noori. This event was to serve as a platform for upcoming Pakistani artists who need to be encouraged and given the chance to uplift the once endangered art scene in Pakistan. By reviving concert culture, efforts like FATE aim to inculcate a sense of fearlessness within the masses, as the force of music becomes the best arsenal to take a stand against apathy and violence.

Trying to tackle this issue from all angles, FATE is also working with social enterprise TurrLahore to organize a tour to the various places of worship such as churches, temples and gurdwaras in Lahore. This will provide the chance to visit the few remains of the different religions and cultures that embraced Lahore. These places serve as a reminder of a time where different religions lived together with tolerance and bring us to the realization that this is still a possibility.

Organizations like FATE – From Apathy to Empathy, TurrLahore, Ravvish, ChaiChalk, and so many other, mark an attempt to take a stand against forces of violence, apathy, hatred and indifference through informed awareness, solidarity, peace and hope.

Initiatives like this challenge the notion that, “Whatever I do couldn’t possibly make a difference, so why should I even bother?”

Check out FATE and their progress here

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About Abeera Akhtar

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Abeera is from Karachi and currently studies in Lahore.

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