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.