The political turmoil and violence our small nation Maldives is witnessing today brings tears to my eyes – and I am sure into that of many others too. The damage and destruction to bodies, minds, and structures is pathetic, and the fear and anguish being seared into the hearts of an unassuming public by the few is deplorable. Such a far cry from the peaceful nation we had! And what development potential we had in vantage. We throw it away with nothing but greed in our minds. Innocence is lost, and I would say we have sold our soul to the evil that is our bloated egos. How can such behavior demonstrated by those we have selected to be our leaders be taken for good role modeling? Leaders are, by their very nature, those that lead and show good example for the betterment of a cause. And we as a nation have selected leaders to move our nation state forward to bring peace and harmony amongst us citizens. We need those with the knowledge and wisdom to move our ship through the turbulent waters of life with awareness, mindfulness and prudence.
But, given the continuing chaos, what we are witnessing today are those seemingly without that caliber to be such captains. How can our children be expected to follow these manifest examples? Do we want to nurture another generation of angry youth? There is ample evidence to demonstrate that children become what they see and experience around them. When we blatantly infringe the God-given responsibility of parenthood to nurture good human beings we forfeit our right to be the bearers of morality in our society. Leaders must be truthful, visionary and forthright and full of the edge that comes from strength of doing the right thing. And of character that will elevate them as beacons of hope for an egalitarian future, not be pitiful plunderers in a selfish moment.
In searching out solutions for this moment we are facing on our home-front, there is no better option for warring parties than to come to the table - however ego-demeaning it may feel. Conflicts are resolved when we can put our best options for a negotiated settlement on the table and coming to compromise - to put the "issue" for debate rather than hold on to our pet "positions". Only then can we separate our ego from our real self and become sober to the realities of the public's needs.
For the promise of a safe and hopeful long term future, it would have to be the nurturing of a responsible citizenry by re-thinking the basis of our whole educational and parenting system to instill that good character and community conscience that will be the gold standards by which our future leaders will measure their actions. For now, it's going to be an uphill climb again. But who said building sustainable nationhood was a piece of cake? Yes, Dear Citizens, let's not make the same mistake again!
Ills, symptoms and causes
When the human body is ailing, the organs manifest the internal ailing by external signs or sensory expressions. It may be an inflammation on a joint or a pain. The ailing is often the result of many causes, even for a minor illness such as a headache. And of course, the symptom is the result of the failure of many systems. One is reminded of the term homeostasis imbalance. Remember the hypothesis that the Earth itself is a single living thing— the so called Gaia theory proposed by James Lovelock?
A society can be also considered akin to an organism. It is a living thing and all systems must work in harmony for homeostasis. Many modern theories of well being consider health to be the result of what goes into the body. Viewed in this light, what we see in Maldives is the result of what has been fed to the society, the organism in the metaphor I am using. What would be the food of a society in this sense? I would think food is what it consumes, of course.
What our society has consumed for the past so many years is actually toxic to the organism itself. Today, we are seeing the expression of cumulative toxicity of many years of our unhealthy diet. I will ask you to answer the following questions:
1. What other country in the world has 70% of its secondary students studying commerce stream subjects?
2. What is the percentage of the countries in the world that has a law prohibiting corporal punishment in schools?
3. How many countries of the world have 60% of its secondary teachers as expatriates?
4. In how many countries of the world is the national television content 70% foreign?
You may wonder why my questions regard education. Let me tell you a Sufi story. Two men were walking downstream side by side on the banks of a river. The men suddenly saw a baby being carried in the river current. One man jumped into the river and saved the baby. Again the men saw another two babies being carried downstream. The other man immediately turned around and started running uphill to find out who is throwing the babies into the river. The baby-saver jumped into the river again and saved the two. Soon after, he saw many more babies being carried in the river current. This time he was in a difficult situation. He already has more than an “armful”, and yet he saw many more being carried in the river current. He was helpless. The man who ran uphill reached the station where the babies were being thrown into the river after a long time. I will stop the story here. But, I think you get the meaning.
Some years ago, during the Mad Cow Disease Scare, it was established that the discarded human placenta from Paris hospitals were being fed to cows to fatten them because of the high protein content of placenta. The best beef cows in the world, Wagyū cattle, are entirely fed farmed grains. Feed Wgyu cattle human placenta, and see what beef you get. Each organism’s diet is different.
A nobel prize winning poet has said written about the illness long ago: Allama Muhammad Iqbal. In Rumuz-i-Bekhudi he writes:
You have acquired and stored up knowledge from the strangers
And polished your face with its rouge;
An individual becomes unique through self-realization.
A nation becomes truly itself when it is true to itself!
I remember reading in the Guinness Book of World Records (I faintly recall that the edition is 1984), that the safest country in the world is the Maldives. What have we done in the name of modernization?
Dear Anonymous, thanks for your deep, insightful and moving thoughts. Yes, I would lament with you as to what we have done to our safe corner of the world. What we eat is what we are, the metaphor speaks loud on the quality of our feed in the past. I beleive also that we cannot lament for the past for it is dead to us now. What we can do is to begin to seek solutions from this present moment and see how that can work. Given this chance of democracy, we need to rise up as nation, not just a few committed individuals to revive the ailing body. The questions you have put forward don't need answers for they are answers in themselves. I hope you can communicate in less anonymous terms to me on email perhaps.
What great advice, Sattar. We can all use reminders of this!
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