December 24, 2014

Heroes from the bottom – A thought for the National Day

I was touched to observe Mohamed Zakariyya receive the President's lifetime award for public service on Maldives last Republic day. He was my friend in health, and of life-long dedication to the health service of this Nation. His was the pioneering days when the dreaded diseases of Maldives were rampant and logistics was extremely difficult when small sailing vessels were the only conveyance available to commute among the dispersed islands of our nation. He was one of those pioneers. He is a true local hero - unsung until that day perhaps.

It is not uncommon for heroes to emerge from the bottom of society's rungs. In fact most of the time, it is ordinary people in ordinary situations that rise to being the hero. Rarely is the true hero from the stock of human beings at the top. There is no reason to be a hero when there is no need to be a hero or when there is no cause dire enough to engage in. It's out of the stresses of life that the imperative to change emerges into the mind of the hero to be and supplies the mental energy to go ahead on a difficult journey. Yet, when one has achieved hero-hood there is nowhere else to go than to sink down. Many heroes linger in the limelight for a while - some short and some long - depending on the effort made by the hero to remain relevant. Yet for the different pinnacles each reaches, the hero's journey treks a similar path. It is always an afflicted and disdained individual that moves through life and meets the hardships that imparts the resilience to that persevering mind. Along the way the hero to be meets a mentor who provides the wisdom and skill to move beyond the problems faced into the vista of solutions. With the inspiration imbibed, the perpetrator moves to hero-hood. Yet, this pole position is hard to keep for long. 

The moment a great feat is achieved its attendant feelings of glory and satisfaction begin to pale and the downward slide begins. As in the example of the hero who reaches the summit of a great mountain, there is no path but down. Sometimes lingering there becomes for many the next objective even when everyone has stopped looking. Being up there is no more of an achievement but many persist to keep being up there when everyone has stopped looking to him in admiration. So the hero’s path is from there to help others chart that path to glory. It is when the hero stops to allow others from being heroes that society ceases to exude its exuberance and its effervescence and life becomes stale. For the essence of life is renewal. Even heroes need to be regenerated for society to keep the cycle going.

Heroic deeds or rising to being a hero may be fueled by varying mental agendas; the right frame of mind is necessary to nurture the heroes of tomorrow by the hero of today being the role model. Good intentions that seek the good for society make for good hero-hood, and bad one also gain fame in what we may call infamy – and yes, some see them as heroes too. Those who exhort others to goodness and progress that will chart the future of life are the ones we need; not those whose hero-hood is used as block to the path of other's progress -- just to linger longer and bask in the glory that is the top. Life is a cycle and life is dynamic. This is also true for heroes. Each brings a flicker of brilliance to illuminate life's path so that others can be shown the way forward. For this, heroes must be of the kind that show good example. Those heroes on billboards and those that warm the seats of high positions of authority must see this edict of goodness to be their guiding principle that will transform others to goodness too. Such behaviour will keep the brilliance of the hero-hood lasting and sustaining even when other heroes take to the summit. We must nurture the heroes that give hope to our young people to be the heroes of tomorrow. That is the essence of nation building. That is the thought that must shine in everyone’s mind on this our National Day. 

December 15, 2014

Can I be the first?

Yesterday like on many daily occasions nowadays on Male's streets, I witnessed a young man throw an empty plastic water bottle onto the pavement. It caught my attention particularly because it landed right in front of me. Inasmuch as i wanted to suppress my sudden emotion of responding for the spectacle I might be causing among a large gathering that blocked that street curb where this happened, i couldn't yet help uttering an expletive. "You just had to throw it there, didn't you?" I retorted spontaneously, expressing an evident displeasure that has stuck me for the past several years as regards this truly degrading social behavior that has plagued us in our new democracy. Yes, the street was filled with similar junk and I couldn't have expected any other behavior from most. Yet this emotion keeps alive a-goading - the possibility that someone might listen. I quickly moderated this by saying " there's no place else to throw it, isn't it.?". He responded with a 'yes', his facial expression indicating a surprise that I had even asked such a question. Then to my surprise or should not be perhaps - another passerby further agrees when he said " it's not anything wrong, this is our abode isn't it?". Frankly, I was left with another confusion as to whether he meant it in jest or sarcasm or seriousness. Yes, that was an interesting response that made me raise today's blog.

Perhaps many young people feel it's just ok to litter these streets of Male because they feel it is theirs to litter - sadly an unfounded attitude many people seem to harbor about democracy; that one has cart-blanch of impunity to do whatever one wants with scant attention to the responsibility that goes as an absolute complement to this freedom of personal rights. Yet, one is irate when another infringes on his space. We all need to be aware of this duality in the democratic institution that we have accepted as our governing Principle. Our leaders and our teachers need to guide us on this path. It should not be as if those that promote our well-being lead us down a path that is the way to our social destruction. Leaders cannot allow their selfishness get the better of the mandate people gave them when they were put into these positions of authority-- to be both the governors and the mentors they were supposed to be.

Another way to deal with this keeping-Male-clean issue is for each one of us who have some sense of responsibility to feel and commit to the idea that we need to take a first step in doing the right things that would make for social harmony without thinking that our individual actions will only be a drop-in-the-bucket - so to say - that it will be of little value. Just as our pristine blue ocean is made up of many little drops of water or our beautiful coral beaches are fashioned from many grains of sand, can we all contribute to our social well-being too -- each of us in our small way? Can you and I be the first to make that effort? Can we make the effort of just sweeping the front of our own house every day ? A job that can be finished in five minutes will make the whole of Male clean for that day; and what else? We will save millions of our tax money that would otherwise go in wages to foreign labor! When we intend and make the decision, the Universe works to make this happen for us.