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The Traits of a Successful Nation Episode 1: Grace

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 By Farkhanda Qaiser

After almost 2 weeks, I’m finally able to bring to you the essence of “Magic with Medicine” – the motivational session by Umair Jaliawala. Well yes, that’s the drawback of medical studies; you don’t always get time to pursue your passion, which in my case is writing.

The session which was held on 1st August 2011 in the King Edward Medical University Auditorium had been a great success MashaAllah. A huge turn out of over 350 people ensured that it was so. Just a few days back, I was watching the video recording of this session and I noticed a few things. Sadly, the cream of the nation i.e. the students of KEMU, those who are the toppers of almost all Education Boards in Punjab, are not made for motivational training. And ofcourse this applies to only the ‘Chus group’ who had just come to make a mockery out of the session and have a few guffaws at their self-made juggats…! However hats off to Mr. Umair Jaliawala for the brilliant handling of these ruffians. He laughed with them at their stupid jokes and gave them downright answers to their rude queries which literally shut them off for good. I know I’m using very harsh words for these people but the fact is that their behavior is representative of the core of our national values. We don’t let anyone speak who can’t make himself heard. We’d make fun of those who don’t know how to retaliate the jibes being thrown at them. We’d indulge in leg pulling of someone who’s trying to do a positive and unique thing for his nation. Why?

Because we’ve had no training to respect people for what they do not for who they are! What does our comedy revolve around? During a speech or a lecture, what is it that instantly calls for our applause? Want to know what that is? My heart bleeds at admitting that it is the bistifying of someone that makes us laugh and makes us so happy that we start clapping loudly.

And all of these are not simple statements that I’m quoting from somewhere. These are my observations from attending a few youth conferences in the past. The most recent being YLC 2011. I still remember the way the crowd treated Dr. Awab Alvi and Nigaar Nazar during the breakout sessions. True they weren’t trainers like Mr. Jaliawala who’d know how to tackle any type of crowd but they were experts in their own respective fields where they’d excelled and done marvelous deeds for their country. Wasn’t this enough to demand our respect for them? Well, apparently no, it wasn’t!

Dr. Awab Alvi is a blogger and an activist. During the session, Street Power, he explained to us how he’d mobilized thousands of people around the globe to donate for the flood victims and the earthquake victims before that, through his active blogging and media campaign. For me, this was a huge service that anyone could have done. Let alone a practicing dentist, who had taken out time from his busy routine, from his family life for a cause that wasn’t even his own…and for a cause that wasn’t even apparently rewarding. In the material sense, I mean. Though ofcourse the spiritual reward is always there.

However the audience thought otherwise. They started mocking him for his way of doing things. According to them, buying food items and clothing for the sufferers was not enough. Why wasn’t something done for the longer term rehabilitation like making job opportunities, reconstruction of buildings etc. Then they started laughing at everything that was said by the worthy speaker which obviously threw him off. Some of the girls really got pissed off at this. And then an active debate started with arguments and counter arguments from both sides. The girls believed that for a private entity like the team of Dr. Awab Alvi who were just working as volunteers, it wasn’t really possible to uptake such huge projects as were required for rehabilitation. These projects require ample time and a humongous budget too. And let’s just say that even if it is possible, we can’t belittle the importance of the short term donation campaign in any way. People, who have been severely injured, both mentally and physically, do need that immediate assistance until their life comes back to normal.

Nevertheless there is a stronger lesson for us from this discussion here. We need to be mindful of the feelings of others. Here is a person who spent his day and night to actively serve his people, in comparison to people like us who just sat at our homes or at the most contributed funds to various donation campaigns. He was in the field sweating his blood out while we enjoyed the lazy comfort of our lazy lives and yet we have the audacity to laugh at him! How shameful that is! And how discouraging our attitude must have been to someone who was doing something for his country! Well yes, definitely a food for thought for all of us who have at various times laughed off at people who are the real heroes!

The second name that I mentioned was Nigaar Nazar – the first female muslim cartoonist. Her session was on Environmental Leadership. This lady had devised a unique way to spread awareness about various social issues like the staring phenomenon common in our society; using plastic bags; wasting water; young, brainwashed suicide bombers and countless other similar problems. Her way was through cartoon strips in newspapers and electronic media. Her main characters are ‘Gogi’ and a talkative parrot who elaborate upon these topics in a light, humorous way. The target audience is the children and the mass public. She’s written many cartoon books for this purpose too. All of which she’s compiled in a school bag that she distributes among the underprivileged students for free. However these same bags are sold for a specific price to well-off students of private schools. Educating our new generation about these core problems is very important because they are neither given this education at homes nor at their schools. And Nigaar Nazar, an elegant and artistic woman is doing just that.

Do you have the heart to know what our response was to her?

To no one’s surprise, it was again those guffaws and mindless comments…! Perhaps, watching those childish cartoon strips didn’t appeal to the cool teenagers and early 20’s who were sitting in that hall.

Seriously, why couldn’t they understand the message behind this activity! Those cartoons were not for their entertainment but for the awareness of a sensitive age group who can only be approached through such means. And the purpose of telling them about this activity was so that one of us could help out Nigaar Nazar in her awareness campaign and do something good for the society in which we live…! (Maybe even as part of our post-YLC projects.) But sadly, our cerebrum could not comprehend that!

And now I’ll finally move on to the trait of a successful nation that was explained to us by Mr. Umair Jaliawala and the one that made me narrate all these incidents.

GRACE:

Mr. Jaliawala explained a few traits of a successful nation like Japan and how those traits helped Japan rise from ashes after the nuclear bombings and the frequent earthquakes that shake this little but strong country. One such trait was, grace. When the government distributed food items among the victims of the earthquake, they only bought what they needed and nothing more just so the others could get their share as well.

In contrast, how did the victims of Pakistani flood and earthquake behave? Or for that matter, how do the beggars at various Darbars behave, when free food is being given away? They take as much as they can! And even more than that is required for them! They’d rather waste away extra food instead of letting a deserving person have it.

Why? Because, we are selfish and don’t have either the mind or the time to think about others or how our actions could affect the society at large…! This is where social responsibility comes in…! Here, Mr. Jaliawala narrated the incident of a German restaurant where a few Pakistani friends dined in and left some food in their plates. An old woman who was observing all this reprimanded them on this behavior but Pakistanis as they were, they didn’t think leaving food in their plates was something bad and punishable. When they remained persistent in not cleaning up their leftovers, the lady called up the police. Those Pakistanis were fined and were told,

‘The money may be yours but the resources are not yours.’ The farmers who planted those rice; the ladies who bent down for hours to pick off the ripe wheat; the chefs who cooked that food…all of these people toiled to give you a plate of rice and they used the resources of the country in doing so and you have NO right to waste these resources! If you have more money than you can spend, then you can buy fresh food for the poor rather than leaving them leftovers which reach them through garbage heaps…! This is the thinking of successful nations!

And what do we do when there is shortage of wheat or sugar? The prices hike up. People start stocking these necessities of life to be released only at munh-boli prices. They are heartless about the sufferings of millions due to this action of theirs.

So what are the messages from this piece that I’ve written?

1) No belittling of our national heroes (every person who does something for his country without expecting a reward is a hero, in my eyes)

2) No wasting of food whether in restaurants or at homes.

3) Thinking about the greater good before you do anything. (e.g. Raising prices, stocking food items during crisis is not the way forward at all)

All of us should try to incorporate these traits in our lives. We need to approach the bottom-up approach in which every individual of a society plays his own role. A time will come when everyone will be playing his role and then our leaders would also be from within that society. Then we’d get our Pakistan back, the way it was dreamed of by our founders.

Happy Independence Day and BE the change that you want to see in your country! Till next time, Allah Hafiz!

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Magic with Medicine

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By Farkhanda Qaiser

They say, “Doctors should be compassionate and selfless. They should serve people without even expecting a reward. Thus they should never have come on the roads to ask for a payrise because doing so adversely affected their saint-like image in the society.”

I say, “Well yes, doctors should be Munna-bhai-MBBS cum Dr-Patch-Adams-type but that doesn’t mean they don’t have a family to cater for.  A wife to look after; children to send off to good schools; sky-rocketing inflation to tend to; electricity bills to pay despite using hand fans most of the time and alot more expenses just like any middle-class person of this country!

And let’s not forget the fact that a doctor is one who has studied the most in his life. Most of them have remained toppers all throughout their school and college lives (at least the ones in my university have). They remained shut in books when their counterparts enjoyed their lives. They were the ones who went through the grinding five years of medical education but worse was still to come. The inhumane 36-48 hours continuous duties in hospitals as part of house job.  Serving people day in, day out and doing it so meticulously that sometimes their own families were neglected. After leaving many relatives sour (as perhaps a wedding or two were missed due to hospital duties); spending many a Eid in the ‘Emergency’ or preparing for the Post graduate exams; missing the childhood of their own children as the ‘Mum’ or ‘Dad’ Doctor were too busy treating others’ children to have time for their own and countless other sacrifices, THEY still expect us to sacrifice some more…We should be content with the meager amount we get for our services…We, the most skilled and most drilled section of the society should be content with a lowly paid government job…WHY? Just because we are doctors? Just because we took the Hippocratic Oath?

Are we not humans like the rest of you?

Do we not have wishes and needs?

Maybe not, because if we did, then the public would have supported us in our cause like the came out in mass to support the lawyers to restore the Chief Justice…

or Perhaps,  our cause is not flashy enough to the likes of people…

Why is it that our nation supports some causes and completely ignores others? Every single person came forward to help the flood affectees and the earthquake victims before that. Many newly wed brides gave away their gold; children stacked away their pocket money to give for the President or Prime Minister fund; businessmen donated generously;  celebrities came to telethons and generated huge amounts of cash for their suffering brothers and sisters, in short, the entire nation came together for a purpose and they succeeded to some extent. However, their actions were not sustained. After the initial dust had settled, all except a few forgot about any flood or earthquake and whether the victims still needed their help or not. That is how long-lived our motivation was!

We become excited by the preliminary gush of blood but then cooled off…

What is it that we are lacking?

A sense of social responsibility, it is. Every citizen has the duty to serve his country in any way possible. It doesn’t have to be huge. It’s just the huqooq-ul-ibaad that he has to fulfill. No littering as it might bother someone. No breaking of the queue as it could violate somebody’s rights. No lying or cheating as that would be synonymous to hurting Allah as Allah lives in everyone’s hearts. Fulfilling your positive role in the society – be helpful to your neighbors; teach the poor children for free; take out some time for the underprivileged – the orphans, the widows and the disabled. Stand up for a just cause; for the downtrodden; for the ones awaiting justice and for the ones who have been wronged. Own your heroes; make them feel loved just because they served their country in any field whatsoever, showbiz, sports, education or even social welfare. Be sincere to your job whether it’s that of a tailor or a doctor…not for the sake of appeasing people but for the sake of fulfilling your social responsibility.

If we can do this, then no force in this world can stop us from becoming a great nation.

We don’t lack the motivation; we lack the will to sustain it and the direction to use it in.