May 31, 2015

World no-tobacco day: lets throw away that stick!

Today is world no tobacco day. All over the world this day is marked to flag the insidious danger of smoking to the human body. So that we will take heed.

It is a curious anomaly that our body – the thing that we so consider as the most important things for us to preserve, or show off – is at the receiving end of such a noxious thing as the smoke from our cigarettes.

Scientific studies testify unequivocally that cigarette some contains thousands of poisonous chemicals that can cause an array of bodily harm. In fact a former Director General of the World Health Organization once famously said that the cigarette is the only product in the market when used exactly as is suppose tot, will make you sick or kill you.  Thus one wonders why we and our government just allow these killers in packets, to move so freely in our midst. We seem to condone such killings just because it is not a gun, machete, bomb or knife that doing the killing. But surely wen we know something wrong we need to prohibit it with all he strength of our being. Why do we talk so against pesticides and industrial chemical such as the organo-phosphates and the carbamates, and the so called dirty-dozen of chemicals that we ban internationally with trans-boundary agreements and the like, that seem to show inordinate global concern for human life.

The Bhopal Union Carbide factory fiasco of decades ago is still told even to grandchildren in India and in classrooms and lecture halls, and so are stories of mutation of human fetuses due to dangerous chemicals in food production and in pharmaceuticals. But the chemicals we inhale daily in our cigarette smoke - the ammonia, acetone, benzene, hydrogen cyanide, etc. -  is quietly hushed up by politicians and business houses as inconsequential to health. Instead, we spend billions to build hospitals and other edifices, both physical and social, to treat the end-of-the-line diseases that are the  result of these inhalations and ingestions. Globally, at least 1200 people die everyday from the consequences of cigarette smoking. It's like three jumbo-jets crashing everyday with none surviving. Yes, sadly, by discounting the seriousness of the cigarette smoke both first-hand and second-hand, we give a blind eye to a primary cause that land many of us in hospital or grave in the first place.

To many who may not be aware, it would be shocking to know that cigarette smoke does not only cause lung cancer but is the cause of many other health risks. You may like to visit Google or the WHO website for further awareness that can save you still. So why do we have this killer in the loose? Why are big shops with only disingenuous posturing of human concern allowed to operate and make money off hapless citizens putting their future health in jeopardy? The answer must be our greed for making a buck even at the expense of the health of our youth. This indeed is criminal – especially in this age of the internet and awareness. We cannot allow such a danger to be left unattended when we in the name of development, tinkle around with projects that only give us short term benefits. Perhaps that is the politics of having only a short term vision called the myopia of politics.

As one who has advocated cigarette smoking cessation in all of my professional years I feel that the biggest impediment to keep such killers on the loose is the easy public access and availability of this killer to the public and the sad and deep lack of our awareness of its stealthy tactics to our body.
I know that our young people - even with the throbbing hormonal changes buzzing in their bodies – will have the sense to know right from wrong. So it is not just the hedonism of youth but our Nation’s feeble laws and enforcement that allow these white long criminal sticks to function with impunity that must urgently be brought to justice.

Then there are the tobacco producing business giants who spend billions of dollars on advertising the glamour of smoking either overtly of covertly, subtly or brazenly, that entice our hormone-confused youth. But awareness and enforcement has given great dividends to the West who have effectively reduced their cigarette consumption in huge amounts. Smoking in the street, in public places, and even in restaurants and at sports events and the like is not booked any more in these ‘developed’ countries. And so this loss by the cigarette companies is patched up by the irresponsible governance and foolish youth of developing countries. Little do we realize that these companies are taking us natives of their previous colonies for a ride. Our hard earned money and our lungs are burned up to make them rich. Do we see that foolishness we are trapped in? We need to wake up. It’s not an emulation of the West to be smoking when they have stopped. Yes, no one in their right mind will like to be fooled over and over again. When we are cheated for a few Rufiyaa in a retail shop we are upset, but when these Companies cheat us with our health on a continuing basis, we just inhale the toxin in oblivious bliss time and time again imagining that we are just cool and admirable.

Youth of today must wake up. Please be conscious of your bodies in all respects – not just only with clothes, hairdos and colognes. Just like any physical thing, your body too withers with time and you don’t have to make that process any faster by the inhalation of these toxic fumes just because in this youthful moment in your live, you feel invincible. Just wait for another decade or two, your whole being will cry in the regret of what you do today.

I wish you well for the future and advise you to urgently crush that packet of killers that you carry in your pocket with such love and passion, with the realization that this is just your ego’s deceptiveness egging you towards your destruction.  For that magnanimous act of crushing that cigarette packet, your body will thank you forever.  Pumping iron at the gym only gives you a physical shell of your outer body that you hope to show off, but sadly an inside that is festering ever so slowly but surely.
Mark these my words my dear youth of Maldives: what I write here is not empty words, but truths that are backed by scientific research coming from the scientific intelligence of the very part of the world that you all so attempt to emulate.  So please take wise steps right away to prevent a life of regret for yourself.

Our body says: if you look after me for the first 40 years, I will look after you for the next 50 years. 

May 30, 2015

Solid walls

Solid walls often don't give way! But yes, an earthquake is another story. 

In Maldives, our day is consumed by the political impasse we face. As in the few Friday prayers past, we are all hoping earnestly and beseeching the Creator of hope for a solution to our national quagmire.

To be able to make a difference there has to a difference in our thinking. As the famous saying goes, those who created the problems cannot be asked to solve the problems they created. This squarely relates to our Maldivian political situation. Everyone seems to be aligned with one party or another. This must be the only country in the world where the public is most politically engaged. (a recent study also attested to this). This is good and it can also be bad for there is no middle thinking for eking out compromises. Another issue also concerns the nature of our parties. We all know these are really not parties but groups of hopefuls (for whatever purpose) aligned behind human beings who they seem to revere. Some call such grouping cults, others call them gangs, and yet others may call them alliances - yet all for some nefarious end. True parties have ideals that signal the basic life needs of society. And in the situation of cults and gangs our mind is swept away primarily, and many a time even absolutely by the allure of the leading personality, leaving the real issues of the everyday citizen behind as secondary. The grapple for the pole position seems the primary goal -- and that has to be filled by these luminous personalities. Thus our egos become hugely involved in this process of following the leader in subservience  (and we call this democracy?!). And as we all know, our ego never wants to lose. So it whispers to us to keep on staunchly aligned with these big personalities, for it is the only way our egos survive.

Only when we can become aware of this decadent and regressive binding force our own egos dictate on us, can we become liberated enough to think independently of the real issues that plague our nation. Until such time it will be just a tug o-war that the stronger in stinging words or in so-called legitimized authority will win. Rationality and deserving will be neatly kept out of this process.

We need a coalition of those who are not aligned to these individuals for real forward movement to happen, even though it may now seem an impossibility. National flag carrying in the nightly demonstrations signal some such leaning towards cohesion, but the underlying party dominance cannot be easily allayed --especially in the face of the vituperous rhetoric that is released. What many may still believe however is that there is something about calmness and humility and silence that moves the heart. And there is an absence of this in our midst. Newton's law is inherent here. For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. A truly non-aligned coalition is the change of mindset our nation needs. Remember it's our mind that is the cause of our joy, sorrows, hardships and agonies, and so follows our envy anger and jealousy.

And yes, we have hope. We have the tools with us to make this change but we need to align our will to want to use those tools. They are right at our doorstep, but as it is said, we don't see the diamond under our feet but search for it elsewhere first. Yet finally we always come back to our origin. And so must also our nation come back to our roots. No one away from our shores can be the solver of our problems.

We need to get out from behind our dark sunglasses where our egos want us to hide and allow ourselves to peer into the soul of our brother and come to terms. There only the solution lies. We need to let some warmth and softness prevail even against the seeming odds of adversity. Lessons from our Prophet will energize and inspire us (if only we care to look there) to know that with great power is also the necessity to exercise restraint, humility and dialogue.

Solid walls have a way of not giving way.