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The Traits of a Successful Nation Episode 2: Conscience

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By Farkhanda Qaiser

On this blessed night – Laila tul Qadar – the 27th of Ramazan, I sit down in front of my laptop and endeavor to spread whatever little I’ve learnt from life’s lessons.

Allah says in the Holy Quran (I tried looking for the exact verse but couldn’t find it so if any of you know which Surah and Ayah it is, you’re welcome to share it) and here is the gist of it:

They have eyes but they do not see, they have ears but they do not hear because their hearts have been sealed off.

So however much I might blog or cry myself hoarse about the traits of successful nations, if you do not wish to learn and change yourselves, then it’s all in vain. So the point remains, it’s YOU who can decide whether you want to change or not. You are guarding your gate of change and only you have the key to it. No motivational speaker, no scholar, no teacher, no parents and no friends can make you take that step. It’s solely in your power.

 

                                            THE IMPORTANCE OF ‘I’

Here is a joke that you might have heard but probably missed out the lesson in it.

Two friends, Santa and Bunta went to give a job interview. Santa was the genius one who was pretty much confident about himself. Bunta was the average slacker who was too scared of the unknown so he asked Santa to tell him all answers after his interview. Santa, being the kind friend, agreed.

Santa’s interview starts:

Question no. 1: When was your country born?

Santa: The struggle started in 1857 and was completed by 1947.

Question no. 2: Who’s your Prime Minister?

Santa: Changes everyday but nowadays its Vajpayee.

Question no 3:  What is the reason for high birth rate inIndia?

Santa: Research is going on, when I’ll know, I’ll tell you.

Perfect interview ends and Santa comes out, tells all answers to Bunta as promised.

Bunta’s interview starts:

Question no. 1: When were you born?

Bunta: The struggle started in 1857 and completed by 1947.

Question no. 2: Who’s your father?

Bunta: Changes everyday but nowadays its Vajpayee.

Question no. 3: Are you insane? What are you saying?

Bunta: Research is going on, when I’ll know, I’ll tell you.

Disastrous interview ends.

So why did Bunta fail to pass the interview? He tried to copy somebody else’s answers to his life. But that’s not how it goes. No one has your life answers. No one can tell you what to do that’ll make your life perfect. You are the only one who knows that!

It’s said that when Allah was making this earth, he asked the angels that where I should hide the life secrets. Angels said, either high up in the skies or deep down in the oceans. To that, Allah replied, no the human being is really clever, he’ll dig out the answers from these far off places. So instead the Almighty hid the life secrets in a person’s heart. Just as Iqbal says,

Apney mann main dub kay pa ja suragh-e-zindagi

Tu agar mera nahi banta, na ban, apna tou bann

 

And then there’s the whole concept of ‘khudi’ that Iqbal explains but lets leave that for another time.

So the importance of I is evident from the fact that even in the aero plane, when they’re giving the security instructions about wearing the oxygen mask in case of low atmospheric pressure, they emphasize upon the fact that first you should wear the mask yourself and only then move on to helping others.

Moreover, even in the most selfless statement that you can make, in which you’re laying down your heart for someone in which you say,I Love You to someone, you say I first!

So once you’ve learnt the great significance that you have in deciding the course that your life takes and once you have mustered up the will and courage to take your life to greater heights and once your eyes and ears are open then you start learning.

As it’s said, ‘When the student is ready, then the master appears.’

CONSCIENCE:

In this second of series of blogs where we’re trying to learn the traits of successful nations from countries like Japan which survived the nuclear blasts and emerged to become one of the biggest economies of the world, we’ll talk about the conscience of a nation!

Following the Great East Japan earthquake and tsunami of March 11 this year, there was an accident at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant that led to power failure in some part of the country. This power failure had occurred inJapanafter 40 years. (Well yes, the last power failure inPakistanwas probably just a few minutes ago) However the way that people reacted to this failure was simply remarkable. People who were shopping in malls and had picked up stuff from the shelves, kept the stuff back and silently moved out of the shops. This is called ‘conscience’ of a nation.

We sure are lacking in it. We have grown so used to doing illegal stuff that it no longer seems wrong.

We cheat in exams. So what? Everyone does it.

We break traffic rules. So what? I’m getting late for office

We litter around in public places. So what? The sweeper will pick up the stuff anyway.

We are hardly ever punctual for our meetings. So what? No one is on time.

We don’t use environment friendly fuels in automobiles. So what? Am I responsible for the entire planet?

We raise prices during Ramazan and Eid. So what? This is the best time for earning profits.

We sell poor stuff for higher prices. So what? The customer must know the difference himself.

We accept not-properly-titled receipts from shopkeepers. So what? The government must keep a check on all retailers not paying taxes, why do I bother?

We pick up random stuff from the shelves in shop and don’t return them on their proper places. So what? The shopkeepers can sort them out, I don’t have time.

We steal electricity. So what? Electricity is a national resource and public property, I’m not stealing it.

Why do we not bother about all these issues?

Oh, as if one person doing his responsibility will make a difference.

If I tell a shopkeeper to give me a proper receipt or else I won’t purchase from his shop and even if he does so, what difference would that have made? The government will get only a small amount of tax from my receipt. All other thousands of customers who come and go daily and don’t ask for titled receipts, theirs was a larger amount that didn’t go into tax. Hah! There you go! No use doing this activity and besides our government is corrupt anyway. Whatever tax we give them to be spent on the country, they use it to buy expensive sports cars and import huge pets from abroad. So we’d rather not give any tax at all.

Well, we should be doing our part of the deal and be satisfied that we are listening to our conscience and doing the right thing. Such behavior may impress others and you never know how many followers you might have. Moreover, you have NO right to blame the government when you yourself are not fulfilling your responsibility!

So it all boils down to the fact that you must take a step in the right direction not caring whether it’s enough or not. You must listen to the call of your conscience and be content that you’re doing the right thing. After all a society is made of individuals and if every individual starts doing this then we sure will have a revolution in Pakistan!

Signing off,

Remember me in your prayers especially that I and all my fellow medical students pass in our Profs. Ameen!

P.S. The major content of the blog is taken from the motivational session ‘Magic with Medicine‘ by Umair Jaliawala held on 1st August 2011 in KEMU Auditorium, Lahore.

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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!