The trash bin project promoted now by the Male City Council is
a step in the right direction. But it must entail much more than merely placing
trash bins in a few places in Male. It must include creating awareness in our urban mass on
the need to keep our city clean. I know everything cannot happen all at once, given that we have been sliding down the path of indolence after the dawn of
democracy in our country half a decade or so ago now; its a curious contradiction really.
On the positive front, I now see local ladies busy
sweeping swathes of our water front early in the morning. I ask one of them if
they were of Council employ and she says yes. I see visible indications of
tidiness at some of the tree-bases lining our seaside avenue of Male and ask
again " so the tree-bases are much cleaner now?!" I exclaim.
"Yes, it would be, because we pick up all that too with our sweep and fill the trash bins," was the response. So I was quite mistaken after all to think that our sanitary habits have changed! By
the end of the day, Male streets are still the dump it is becoming. Our
populace seems quite oblivious to wanting to see our island as our "home" it
appears, -- I lament. And yes, when I glance along the stretch of the tree-bases that
stretch from the BML to the HSBC --I call it the bank stretch -- these ferry mooring beach side tree-spaces seem increasingly filled with all kinds of
trash people want to dispose of -- not just the careless discards of an
irresponsible pedestrian -- an empty pet bottle, energy drink or an empty
cigarette carton -- but sizable cardboard boxes, trash from broken concrete and
side-walk slabs, shreds of wooden boards and plastic containers, and in one
location, even a sizable log – certainly not left there for sitting on. And stretching right in front of me is Male’s inner
harbor, also laden with similar floating trash. During the day, I now even see
tourists and our guest workers too, carelessly tossing discards and spitting onto
our streets with no qualms. And, why not?!-- when even our nationals don't care!
(The plight of our sidewalks along our streets is another story of how our
civic leaders have disdained us).
But something should be done I say to myself, for if not,
soon we will be deeply grounded in a condition of national indolence from which
it would be very hard to get out. While we may have made fun of some of our
neighbors for being in that situation until very recently, we see them
purposefully lifting themselves out of the morass while we, ensconced in our
wealth consciousness seem to be blind to what we are becoming socially. We seem
also blind to our Lord's calling -- all so comprehensively recorded in our good
Book. So where does out development lead us? Do we want to, in our pride and
arrogance and separateness and competitiveness, drown in our wealth or become
more humble and become aware of our connection with each other as a nation and begin to
celebrate our oneness with love and sharing. Become the stewards of this
beautiful land Allah has given us in our sojourn in this world and show the
example by which the youth of our present can create a better future for
themselves and their posterity.
Our leaders have that moral responsibility to make our land
more peaceful and caring. If that is not their job they have no role in
leadership. What separates us as individuals is not our individually amassed
wealth but the goodness that we instill in ourselves as God's creation. What we can
take with us when we part with this world of form is only our goodness, not even
an atom of the wealth we amass. Our leaders must focus on this moral aspect of
our lives as they lead us -- not go gung-ho only on creating wealth that really
does not trickle down to the masses as they might profess it would. Our national
character is built on how we embellish the goodness of our insides rather than
the adornment of our outside. This is the ultimate test of our human essence.