November 14, 2018

We need a new mindset

Albert Einstein is known to have famously said that  problems cannot be solved with the same mind set that created them. The truth in this is not hard to see. Problems are created when the homeostasis of life is disrupted. And it requires a mind to conjure up the event that made it happen. If that momentary imbalance becomes sustained over time then we have a problem. This happens in our lives all the time as we attempt to change a given situation we have to our advantage. Sometimes this is for personal gain and sometimes for a larger mandate. Most times these are attempts for personal gain for this is the primeval human desire

In politics too this is so evident everywhere and why not so even in our Maldives. After all we too have arrived to follow the global bandwagon, haven't we?  It seems that to gain personal political advantage we have to offer something radical to what the other regime may have been doing when in fact it's not what we promise to do but what we stand for that is the more important. However, what we stand for is often not explained because it is not easy to conceive, describe and market a whole attitude. What is much more easier is to pander to the emotions of a constituency by giving them what they seem to urgently want. And this comes in the form of material things that people can touch and feel and perceive with their five senses. Money, in whatever form, is the easiest and this is what is promised or doled out fastest and so most frequently; tax cuts, business opportunities, permits, contracts, loans, lucrative jobs, etc. Then comes the next level at the community or island level; harbours, roads, sewerage, running water, flats etc. Now, in all these cases we must realise that the sustainability factor for the receiver for a contented life thereon is very low. At best it's just a breather to settle a temporary glitch in the voter’s life. Yes, we soon run out of that money, businesses fail, loans drag us into debt,  and flats, before long when the initial excitement of ownership wanes, leave us sad and alone and with the absence of a real community. These results leave us worse off and more helpless than ever before. And what of the community level stuff? These need constant care, and when, over time, these also degrade and breakdown and nobody comes to do the repairs, we complain and blame those who gave these to us for their cheap quality or the deceit and corruption that was mixed with such shady transactions. 

But then we quickly forget these past failings perhaps because most of us don't see the picture of our nation in the context of what damage it has done to our lives, and we ask for more from those who stand for election the next time. The public is kept in this flux,  regime after regime; fooled every time. Sad to say we the public never realise it because our egos show us the way to doubt and blame; it tells us it's not our foolishness but the craftiness of those shady politicians and that we are entitled also to have some of the benefits upfront of what they will take later when they win and are in control of the national coffer. In one breath we are right because politicians are always crafty and many a time downright unscrupulous. But in another breath it would be wise to realise that we are also very gullible or our ego makes us so. We are short sighted and either way, we are to blame.

When the constitution says power comes from the people we don't really believe it with our heart. These words are just perfect for wily politicians and crafty lawyers but such a deep concept doesn't seem to ring a bell in our very politically naive public mind. Naturally, because Maldives have for centuries been a kingdom, our leaders have always had a distaste for the public’s involvement in national governance. Even in our post independence period since the late 60s the enlightening civics classes in our schools that lingered for a few years were soon removed from the curriculum and our enthusiasm for the political dimension squelched. Any university education in this major of political science was also visibly discouraged. More encouraged were the neutral preparations of doctors and nurses engineers and accountants. All a harmless bunch who will not be any threat to the ruling elite.

Let's ask. Why don’t the politicians have any other long term moral and unselfish agenda? Why do they get into politics in the first place? Why do they abase themselves to go to their constituencies to beg for the vote and promise to do whatever the public demands when they get elected? Often most of those who stand have no social record of good they have done for society in their past. Are we hoodwinked every time they make promises? How stupid can we be! I have had friends who have told me they were going into politics because that is the most lucrative. Many may not voice this but do we truly believe that they run so hard and sweaty just get to the top and do good for us with love and compassion in their hearts? Let's not be fooled. They don't want to change the system that gives them the advantage. They do want the checks and balances system of a democratic process in place, but they don't want to close the loopholes from where they can creep through to be “legitimately” corruptive. They hide behind the rules and say it's according to the law when in fact the party gangs together with other like minded bipartisan supporters to pass lucrative laws that will benefit the party clan. And they go their merry corruptive ways with impunity.

Let’s wake up and make our country moral again. Only in morality lies truthfulness and sustainability of humaneness. Tell me I'm a starry-eyed idealist. But without some idealism there is not going to be any human progress? To be a nation that has some identity (not for ego boost but for moral boost) and celebrate our diversity in a global village. We don't want every city of ours to be an americom (Tom Friedman’s short for American Community) and have the whole world in a straight-jacket following the capitalist model of development. Don’t each nation have a celebrated diversity? While we can strive for the commonality of moral rectitude, we can be at the same time as diverse in our local ways as our God-given colours or shapes and sizes are diverse. Why do we have to conform and subordinate our ways to the ways of development or modernisation as someone else defined? Do we blindly espouse the moral degradation also that is a part of this model and that which we are witnessing before our very eyes? Or do we choose to celebrate our difference? Are we ashamed of our religious and social culture? What makes another's way more superior? Is money the factor that makes us better or an inner dimension of goodness and humbleness that makes us more reverent? Isn't it this reverence that elevates us to the grade of human beings we are supposed to be?

Sadly our present politics debase us into voiceless objects. We say we have a democratic constitution and democratic means to govern with our consent; the consent of the people, when in fact we are prisoners of our own conscience; that conscience that still dictates where we are -  to be subordinate to our leaders when in fact we should treat our leaders as first among equals with us. That can only happen when we can truly begin to respect each other. It is when we don't have the urge as leaders to feel condescending, hide their bodies away from the public in darkened vehicles, darken the windows to their souls behind expensive sunglasses and angry rhetoric and feel too haughty to walk unashamed on wobbly or flooded streets like the poor do; learning nothing from the serene example from our beloved Prophet who did walk the streets and public markets in humbleness. Whose examples do we as Muslims follow?

Yes we need different mindsets to change our nation. Youth of our nation. Please learn new ways to lead and please don't follow the ways of the politicians we have had in the past and even now who attempt to usurp the reigns of power and leave us stalled for for these recurring spates of 5 years when hopes are raised with the ballot and then shattered soon after.

I would implore the new President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, who is a marked difference to those who have warmed that seat in the past, to usher in a new age of democracy where the public is kept in confidence not through doling out presents but giving them the tools with which to be the movers and shakers of a new era rather than merely be the recipients of doled out largesse. Teach us how to fish rather than give us a fish every day. Make each citizen enthusiastic for the vibrant future we so want for our children. Give us a new set of morally endowed governors that will have the interest of the public in mind rather than their own. Don't just crowd your cabinet with those who merely seek a recompense for the electoral labor they put in, but those with proven technical and managerial and the wisdom that deserve those seats. This new Maldives don’t merely want the glass and concrete development; it wants you to invest more in the growth and proliferation of the moral and wise citizen (as opposed to the wiley and the corrupt). It wants a focus on more relevant education that will nurture creative minds who will build a more rational and caring future; not just bodies to pass the GCE exam. It wants health care that is truly healthful, not just shiny and expensive edifices where we are crowded into when we are sick and given half a dozen lab tests and scores of tablets and capsules to swallow, but don't care about showing us how to live healthy and be preventive in our social and mental attitude and lifestyle. We want a spiritual environment where we can invest in our inner moral values of islam; not the hypocrisy and heedlessness that degrade our soul This is the change that we need.

Let's not repeat the mistakes of the past. Be aware that this election was a great Blessing from above! Let's never forget the fear our nation was going through as regards our future even up to the very day of the election this September and the continued uncertainty and fear of the possibility of a verdict of negation and a calling for another to follow. Please don't let the Great Deceiver Satan have the day. Let Allah be our guide. Not in lip service but in deed, with the inspiration for it coming from our hearts.  

Please keep the Etihad alive and don't allow that Great Whisperer Shaitan to influence cracks and divisions amongst the four leaders. Realise that Shaitan is an enemy of unimaginable power that can put any sentient human despot to nothing. We have this power still to fight against and win through our inner sacrifices. This is the test for us with you in the lead to pass in these next five years and demonstrate the proof of your loyalty to the trust we the people of Maldives have given you in this historic election. This is a great responsibility for you. Difficult as the winning may have been, the governing surely will be many times more difficult. Your banding together in a coalition and working cohesively and being supported by party enthusiasts may have been the auspicious preparations for winning, but realise also in the very next breath that the act of winning was possible only because Allah Willed. Alhamdulillah! Are we so cocky that it will always happen? No we shouldn't! Let’s appreciate and be grateful for this blessing. Lets not weep later in regret.

So our loyalty to keep this trust becomes ever more absolute. Not just for us public’s sake alone but for a much higher cause. Let it not count as a betrayal to our Lord, our Creator. Let the glitter of power of position NOT carry you to delusion. InshaAllah there is a new intelligent youth rising and they may not think like you. Let the Millennials score a good report card for you as a turning point for a new and moral Maldive Islands.

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