Life and Times Blog

Digital Detox

I’m a HUGE fan of the internet. Actually, “fan” isn’t the right term, it implies spectatorship. I’m on the internet far too much to be just a fan.

There have been periods in the last 2 years where I have taken extended periods of absence from the internet, during which I deliberately monitored if there was any change in my thoughts, habits or personality.

I can say with confidence that during those periods I didn’t see any major change, which is encouraging as it reassures me that the internet does not seem to be harmful, in spite of the many articles which seem to suggest its buggering up our concentration spans and human relationships.

However, it’s often useful to break a habit for a while, and perhaps things have changed, which means I should be re-checking if the internet is affecting me negatively.

I’m not the only one who spends great amounts of time on the net, on my phone, or on a PC.

The challenge is to have a whole lot of others join in for a period of reduced online time. You can do it for whatever reason you like, on whatever scale you like. The period is 31 August (Tues) to 9th September (Thurs).Ten days.

I suggest we don’t do it too lightly, else it won’t be of much use. I will be using a phone that has no net access for the ten days, and will not access FB,twitter or chat at all, but will access my email from my PC, but at intervals as opposed to keeping the screen open all day.

Some of us may need to be online to promote events, or for work, or other reasons, so evaluate your own situation and customize the challenge to fit you, in terms of the period or the process.

Please try and keep track of your experience, perhaps write it down in a book, if you can remember how to write.in.a.book. Also watch your thoughts, moods, relationships with others to see if its any different.
That way we can share experiences afterwards.

I’ll be preparing by keeping some beads on hand, for those times I usually am browsing on my phone, and a stack of books/magazines for reading in place of net time.

Who’s in? Any other thoughts or suggestions around this?

August 29, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | 4 Comments

(some of the)TIME 100

LULA DA SILVA
http://www.time.com/time/specials/packages/article/0,28804,1984685_1984864,00.html#ixzz0rVwGIo6U

Anyone who is able to make people “check the fuel gauge on their private jets” is a maximum powerful guy.

Added to that, he ran for President THREE times before winning, thats determination. He quit school in the fourth grade and now presides (for his second term) over one of the world’s most powerful emerging economies. And that beard obviously makes him a more serious cat in my eyes.

WANG ACER
http://www.time.com/time/specials/packages/article/0,28804,1984685_1984864_1985425,00.html

“When Wang became top executive in 2005, it ranked fifth in the global PC market. Acer has since stormed up the charts to No. 2, with more than 14% of the market, ahead of Dell and behind only HP.”

You haven’t heard his name, but Steve Jobs is your guru. And Bill Gates. And Michael Dell. What computer are you using? There are real Tigers in the east that have given us a lot but there’s less of the individual spotlight.

SARAH PALIN
http://www.time.com/time/specials/packages/article/0,28804,1984685_1984864_1984871,00.html
I don’t know anything about internal USA politics (except to know that if I see guys in bedsheets, I should run), but this woman’s name keeps coming up. And those capped teeth and way expensive wardrobe just shows that “she does what she does like she’s doing it for TV!”

TIDJANI THIAM

http://www.time.com/time/specials/packages/article/0,28804,1984685_1984864_1985413,00.html
This guy is to the corporate world like all those soccer players are to soccer.
A West African export who done good in the West.

RECCEP ERDOGAN
http://www.time.com/time/specials/packages/article/0,28804,1984685_1984864_1985464,00.html
Before they realised they were bankrupt, the EU barred Turkey from joining them. Talk about a healthy rejection….
Erdogan is described as an Islamist, but he rules over a secular state. To manage that apparent contradiction surely requires a very refined character, strategy and force. Not to mention a deep patience and extreme professionalism.
For the serious dames out there, this guy is definitely GQ.

July 24, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 Comment

TIME 100

Time Magazine does a list of the top 100 people “who most affect our lives” every year. I’ve been reading those lists for too many years. Since I was 15. At 15 you haven’t yet failed Financial Accounting, or filled out a blank timesheet. Or realised that you should-have to pay your taxes. So naturally I used to read those lists with aspiration. These days, I just read them with appreciation.

Of COURSE the list is shallow, USA biased, not only in terms of the candidates, but the criteria and motivations too. Of COURSE it doesn’t MEAN much, and ignores very real problems.

But the people on those lists are interesting.

I’ve picked a few from this year’s list that I found quite cool, and will add a caption about why I thought so in posts to come.

This list is like listening to TED talks, gets you starry-eyed for just slightly longer than it usually takes you to find some other article/web link to switch to.

Much more entertaining than the list, is Joel Stein’s editorial in the same edition on the least influential 100 people in the world: http://mzan.si/59OW

July 24, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Urban monk

You’ve all seen them in movies, the Buddhist monks who sit in deep meditation in sub-zero temperatures with only a single cloth covering them, regulating their temperature by controlling their brain.
( for more on this: http://tinyurl.com/yzdy3dc )

And of course there was that Roald Dahl book where the little girl could move things with her eyes, which caused many of us an eye-ache.

Well, I’ve mastered the urban equivalent of the monks meditation. Most cars “these days ” have a deliberately annoying beep that sounds until you put on your seatbelt.
It starts off slow and gentle, a reminder, it increases to an admonition, then it goes crazy. BEEPBEEPBEEPBEEP, like the engines going to bloody fall out if you don’t do something. THEN it stops.
I have, through training and discipline managed to shut out the noise. I dont hear the beeps. I dont feel the pressure.

I am The Urban Monk.

I haven’t reached Master stage though, which is to be able to withstand the whining of the passenger next to you who hasn’t yet mastered the silence. The passenger who joins the BeeP in aggravating you to shut the beep up.BEEEEEEEEEEEP is what I say to that.

(It was only for the purposes of training that I learnt to cut out the noise, not wearing a seatbelt is very very stupid. I always wear my belt for distances greater than 5kms, front seat or back. “They” say 63% of people who die in accidents aren’t wearing their belts.)

On Buddhism: http://tinyurl.com/y952j4

Lots of parallels between Buddhism and Sufism.

March 30, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , | 3 Comments

Polygamy #1

I’ve had some thoughts swirling around this for some time now. A recent FB note by a friend, a fairly long Gmail thread, and a Halqa presentation by someone else gave me the nudge to sit down on this.
It’s seen as a controversial subject, polygamy in Islam. I don’t think it should be controversial, I haven’t seen anyone flat out say it’s forbidden, but I have seen plenty of people describe it as a religious virtue.

It seems to be a matter of individual choice. You can choose to do it, or choose not to.
I initially thought I’d present the opposing views on this in a clinical way, merely stating both views without (too much of) my opinion on the matter. But the more websites I read, the more I realised this was impossible. So subjective bombs away.

Just to repeat, no one can definitively say it’s not allowed. Or even look down on those who do it. But on the same note, the converse applies, those who refuse, should have that freedom without the blackmail of being anti-religious, or counter-virtue.

I wasn’t certain whether refusing was being anti-Islamic, so I kept quiet on this, but it seems Tariq Ramadan (who’s views I like), as well as others , have stated publically that women are allowed to refuse upfront to this. SO I’m more comfortable in what I’m about to say.

What are the arguments in favour?

Social Justice
Argument:Women far outnumber men, therefore, without polygamy; there would be unmarried women in this world.
In most cases this is untrue. The hard facts show this.
Where this is true, it would certainly be a cause for social justice. In certain areas, war stricken regions for example, polygamy is necessary and good.

However, in normal communities, women outnumber men primarily only due to their longer average life spans. SO in terms of the entire population there is only a slight skew.
I’ve pulled some stats for Bilal Randerees post a while back http://lifeandtimesblog.wordpress.com/2009/04/28/marriage-contract-of-bilal-randeree-amina-ebrahim/
This shows that its only beyond a certain age that this age gap happens, so if a man is doing this for the purpose of social justice he would be marrying women in that age category. The population argument does not stand up.

Sunnah of the Prophet (SAW)
This is true. It was the Sunnah of the Prophet (SAW); it was also widely prevalent in the society of the time. Islam actually was restrictive, as it limited the number of wives to 4, unlike the open number for Arabs of the time.

BUT this is one of many sunnah, caring for orphans, fasting regularly, tahajjud etc. So it’s all good to say you’re doing it because of the sunnah, but these other sunnah don’t involve consequences for others around you.

So it’s not fair to put the blackmail on women as there is a huge burden on them in most cases. And if a man is claiming to do it solely for Sunnah sake, then is he as fervent and compliant with all the many other Sunnah that do not involve very real compromises for others? If your reason is self-serving, be honest about that, rather than painting your primary driver as being the Sunnah.

One argument against the Sunnah that I have heard, is that the Prophet (SAW) was monogamous throughout his relationship with Khadija (RA). I don’t think that’s an accurate counter, because the fact is that he did have multiple wives, as did many sahabah. Hazrat Umar (RA) was said to have had 7 or 8 in his life time, but not concurrently of course.

Divorce however, was also a lot more prevalent than it is today.

Another counter to this that I’ve heard is that the permission was revealed only after Uhud, and therefore only applicable in that specific context (where there were more widows and orphans). Now I know the context of revelation is of importance, but the Quran is universal, and timeless, so I’m not about to use this as a counter. Because even if it was revealed at that time, it was maintained for all time. Further, there were many other rulings of Islam that were gradually introduced. SO the Quran does allow for it:

Surah 4 vs3. If ye fear that ye shall not be able to deal justly with the orphans, Marry women of your choice, Two or three or four; but if ye fear that ye shall not be able to deal justly (with them), then only one, or (a captive) that your right hands possess, that will be more suitable, to prevent you from doing injustice.

Yusuf Ali says it seems to indicate monogamy is better.

I have however heard a scholar say that the wording of the verse indicates that the NORM is to marry multiple, seeing as it begins with marrying more, then says if NOT, then marry one.

I have also seen this verse used in an argument discouraging it:
Surah 4 vs129. Ye are never able to be fair and just as between women, even if it is your ardent desire: But turn not away (from a woman) altogether, so as to leave her (as it were) hanging (in the air). If ye come to a friendly understanding, and practise self- restraint, Allah is Oft-forgiving, Most Merciful

There is a refute against this in one of the links at the end of this post.

What interesting though is that in that time, this was a restrictive measure for the norm of the time, as it was common amongst the Arabs to have more than four. Whilst we see it as permissive, back then it was restrictive.

I think it’s important to distinguish between allowances, recommendations, compulsions.
Polygamy is an allowance, caring for orphans is a strong recommendation. An allowance doesn’t indicate anything more than the option, and according to many, refusing this specific allowance is also an allowance. Individual choice. This way or that.

It’s not advised to ignore recommendations, you can choose to never read tahajjud, but you really should read as much as you can.

Giving charity is a compulsion. Non-negotiable, and not allowed to be refused.

Some go as far as to say that not to allow it is also Sunnah citing this hadith:
I heard Allah’s Apostle who was on the pulpit, saying, “Banu Hisham bin Al-Mughira have requested me to allow them to marry their daughter to Ali bin Abu Talib, but I don’t give permission, and will not give permission unless ‘Ali bin Abi Talib divorces my daughter in order to marry their daughter, because Fatima is a part of my body, and I hate what she hates to see, and what hurts her, hurts me.”

Fulfilment of desire:

Argument: By allowing polygamy, a man is given a legitimate outlet for his sexual desire, a counter measure to the common ills of today, infidelity, prostitution, STD’s.
This may hold partially true. Although it is slightly denigrating to male powers of self-restraint. And exaggerating of the male libido.
A counter to this that is used is that he wouldn’t be satisfied by 4 either, but I won’t use that, because though he may not be fully satisfied with 4, he is likely to be MORE satisfied with 4 than with one. Satisfied enough not to meander. But whether one or four, he will still have to exercise restraint based on fear of God.
Once more, on the concept of justice, by him finding an outlet for this desire, instead of exercising restraint, what price will his wife be paying, and what restraint will she as a consequence be forced to exercise in other areas of life, and is it fair, is it Just?

Imam Ghazzali warns about the two destructive desires, being this one, and the other being the stomach. Restraint is a core and fundamental part of our system.

Further, the picture of this desirous man is a little extreme, men survive till their mid-20’s, through the most libidous period of their lives, without the fulfilment of this desire, why is it that when they have 1 wife, they suddenly need more? If you show me a man who claims this as his reason, and was married at 18, or 16, for this reason, he at least has a little more weight to his claim. He is allowed to exercise on this, but it is not the only solution.

A friend posted a note on FB relating to this: http://nisaa.ca/featurearticles/comments/over_sexualized_muslim_men_syndrome/

Independent lifestyles of today:
This one is almost used in contradiction to the one about it having been sunnah at the time, but for all time. Because this motivation actually encourages the contextualisation of the ruling.
Some say that women are lot more independent, and that the model of the nuclear family is changing, so much so that there are women out there who would be better off without having to commit the same amount of time to their husbands as was traditionally done.

By marrying a man with other wives, those others could provide for his other needs whilst she pursues a lifestyle she prefers.
This could well be true.

But, in a society with equal numbers of men and woman, it would mean that wealthier men would have more wives to the detriment of poorer men, thus breaking the argument that motivates in the name of social justice. Wealthy men have the upper hand in monogamy too, as they are in more demand generally, but with multiple wives it would mean the deprivation of other men altogether, not just on the basis of selectivity.

(thanks to Shak for the independant women perspective, his writing can be found here: http://www.radioshak.co.uk/2008/07/on-misyar-and-marriage-contracts.html)
I agree that women’s lifestyles and perspectives have changed, but in this new independent paradigm, I also believe that they are less likely to be communally inclined. You can see it in the fact that extended families don’t live together as much, that in-laws have greater boundaries, and conflict. (this is based on pure observation and hearsay though, about the old days).

There are those that punt temporary marriage on these grounds too, but I don’t know a damn thing about that.

So there is a counter to this. None of the arguments for or against are purely one or the other, choice exists.
I’m “countering” not to say it’s not allowed, but merely to say that both agreeing to it AND disapproving of it, is both OK, there should be no blackmail or condescension on either. Of course my own bias means the counter may be more pronounced… I don’t think it’s a good idea in these times. And I personally would not consider it.

http://www.al-islamforall.org/litre/Englitre/polygainis.htm
http://www.islamfortoday.com/polygamy3.htm
http://www.bilalphilips.com/search_pages.php?q=polygamy&imageField.x=0&imageField.y=0
http://www.islamonline.net/servlet/Satellite?pagename=IslamOnline-English-Ask_Scholar/FatwaE/FatwaE&cid=1140333531684

March 10, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | | 20 Comments

Polygamy #2

Now, about this bias, here are the personal reasons I think it’s unfair to coerce a women into doing it:
Marriage today (I guess for most of time) is not just a circumstantial arrangement; it is an emotional bond, based on trust and joint goals, lifestyles, extended family bonds etc. Joint and mutual sacrifice for joint and mutual goals.

Beginning a relationship on these grounds, and then altering the nature of that understanding at a later point, seems to be quite shattering. Physical infidelity hurts a lot, part of it I would guess would be the lie or the deception involved, but I think a bigger part is the intrusion on what was thought to be an exclusive bond. Emotional bond. Lifestyle bond. With a man shared between more than one household, there are intrusions on many more levels. Those joint bonds are damaged. There is overlap of goals and compromises.

Of course those bonds can theoretically still be maintained, but someone who is that close to your life, sharing those same bonds with a different person, with their goals, with their trust, must have some sort of impact on the strength of your trust with them?

And your kids, knowing that their needs are shared with those of a different set of kids by their father?
Sure, even within one family there is challenge to maintain justice among kids and towards a wife, and not a slight challenge either. But with having multiple families in a unit, those same challenges would be a lot more aggravated for the same reasons they are challenging in a single relationship.

A single marriage looks tough, tough enough. Some of the difficulties may be solved with multiple partners, if the man is needier in certain areas, but I would guess that the additional challenges it would bring would be more severe than the solutions it provides, in these times. But in individual situations that can of course be the complete opposite.

And the Quran is emphatic on the point of justice, with polygamy and within its broad ethos. So a man may have many reasons for it, but if the women he lives with will experience adverse consequences, then it is unjust.

Again though, if she DOES consent, and HE does consent, there should be no derisiveness, people are built differently. Allowance is there for both options,

And yes, I’m layering this with assumption. But I don’t believe these are unreasonable assumptions. I’m no huge feminist, but I think it’s wrong to use the Islamic card for this, if its based on self-serving needs. If the dude’s marrying an old widow , or an orphan, or doing dawah, that’s virtue. But will he honestly be just to an old widow, or any of the others?

Trust is important, and I think it is lost in these situation, with the expectations and model of family units we are presented with. If your father came home, and announced that he was starting another family, what would your reaction be? And your mothers? And her father’s reaction?
What would your feelings be?

A friend recently mentioned she knew of step-sibling who met each other for the first time at campus. Another friend stayed with family friends that involved a marriage f two wives, he says the house was a battle ground, not physically, but said there were no emotional bonds. Each woman was always expending her energy in psychological and emotional competition with the other. And neither had trust in their husband, and this impacted on the kids too, with no nurturing environment.

In-law relationships are strained, mostly, as a rule of life. Especially the mother-in-law daughter-in-law relationship. I guess the possible reason behind it is possibly the split obligations of the man in the middle. A man is obligated to care for his original family, brothers, sisters, parents, and his wife and kids, and this is no easy feat. There are plenty of examples of these conflicts.

Even time divisions, between work, personal leisure, family attention, is a scarce commodity.
I do however have a friend, who’s mum was the second wife of a man, and both families got along beautifully. And are better for it.

2 sides to this coin, choose either, but allow the freedom for both.

Most men reserve the right, but don’t really ever expect to want to exercise it.
I hope the guys who are serious about it carefully consider the duty of justice, in terms of God-fearing, and of the incredible amount of hassle , in terms of self-preservation. Rather fast more frequently fellows. It just seems like a heck of trouble to me.

Ladies, don’t be hesitant to be firm on this, it’s allowed, don’t automatically assume its a religious duty. Refuse if you want to. Rather upfront than down the line, where it will be a lot harder. But as I say, I know no men who are REALLY sincere about it.

And a common line used is that they will be God-fearing in managing it. Again, irreversible bravery. Real consequence.

Don’t be too alarmed, as I say most men maintain the right as a luxury to be exercised in case of mitigating circumstances, or just to test the ladies willingness to submit. But do check how seriously he intends to do it. And his reasons.

It only becomes noble if the man claims to do it for purposes outside himself, so for eg, caring for a war widow, or for dawah etc. Even on those purposes, he has to be certain of his ability to be just, not just his ability from himself, justice involves 2 parties; the woman must feel justice too.
Even on the widow front, with an equal population in a normal society, there would be the same number of widowers.

For both men and women considering an arrangement, bravery is always admirable, but consider how reversible it is, and the magnitude of the consequence. And question the real motive, only in justifiable situations, or simply as a right to be exercised regardless?

I have heard some terrible reasons for it, the one being that: We could have someone take care of the house, whilst we worked, and went out… (And when you come home? And will you be just? Or is she just a maid?)

You can’t find everything you want in one woman. (of course not, life’s not perfect, whats a heaven for? And this is totally self serving, choosing a partner would be so easy if we could just add others to make up for deficiencies, or if we could just divorce and remarry others, rather be more realistic and careful in choosing a spouse)

Am I arguing against an Islamically sanctioned right?
I am not, I am saying its allowed, and should not be frowned on. My bias against it may seem like its a criticism against it, and until I had read what various folks had said about it, I would not have ventured this forth: To accuse women of refusing a man’s “ Islamically sanctioned right” is equally unfair and against HER Islamically sanctioned right.

I never gave it too much thought when I was younger, but now, knowing more about emotional consequences of life, having observed more of people around me, my view has changed.
Also, a few years into a marriage, it is a lot harder , emotionally and circumstantially for a woman to walk out of a marriage.

Where there is compromise and growth and sacrifice between two, that needs to be negotiated, how does a third factor in. Who get the priority? Even if there is that priority, between husband, kids, family, personal goals, this additional layer is added in?

And of course the emotional difficulty of knowing that there is someone else, physically, psychologically, circumstantially, that you are automatically compared to, prioritised next to, balanced against.
But perhaps I have it completely wrong, please share your views.

And for the fellow’s, if you find a classy dame, Finding one is hard enough. Sure, it’s easier to decide on one if you’re just planning to supplement her with others, but a bird in the hand…

For things outside intimacy, you can find satisfaction outside the marriage, better if you find it inside, more comfortable and fulfilling and liberating, but rather work on that single relationship.

http://www.zawaj.com/articles/lamentations.html
http://www.zawaj.com/siddiqua/5-1-2001.html
http://muslimahmediawatch.org/2009/12/husbands-and-wife-nadine-al-bedair-writes-about-polgamys-double-standard/
http://nisaa.ca/featurearticles/comments/a_true_story_about_polygamy/

March 10, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | | 4 Comments

Super Super-hero #2

Another review of an older post: http://lifeandtimesblog.wordpress.com/2009/05/03/the-super-super-hero/
I can’t ever be Batman, because Batman never WANTED to be Batman, thats against the ethos of this anonymous Super Hero.

“Because he’s the hero Gotham deserves, but not the one it needs right now. So we’ll hunt him because he can take it. Because he’s not our hero. He’s a silent guardian, a watchful protector. A dark knight. “

March 4, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Inner Solo #2

This is a follow-up to a much older post, the Inner Solo.

The fact that people seem to so eagerly find validation in talk of loneliness, that just aint right. It just aint right!

Two of my friends, Mash and Shafinaaz picked up on the solo aspect, and Tariq Ramadan, but my emphasis on the SOLIDARITY in the solo seems to have been skipped, so acknowledging the solo, but asserting that solidarity be found among solo’s:

“And we seek people who guide us to that peace.With whom we create a space for that peace. A combination between the rational commonality and the inner peace.”

Recently I tripped on some writings about the modern world, and how the move to the industrial age resulted in people feeling a sense of alienation from their work.(it’s really good, you can google it for plenty more).I’m not sure the exact difference between loneliness and alienation.I guess the loneliness leads to the alienation.

Some folks seem to feel a sense of loneliness more than others, a sense of watching the world from behind a window pane.Its got nothing to do with social ineptness, it’s just a specific type of outlook, or personality. Actually these people are sometimes more socially skilled, because they learn to be deliberate about it.

There are elements about the loneliness that are satisfying, because in being apart there is oddly, but not surprisingly, a pleasant sense of privacy.And an intimacy with oneself, but without good levels of connection to our close environment, that loneliness can really hamper a person.

More important than trying to connect to the world we live in, and the people we live among is creating a world around us where we don’t feel this sense of alienation/loneliness. So that we don’t need to tire ourselves out with trying to fit in, and give up those critical inches that chip away the blocks of who we are. So finding people with whom we connect, who get us and whom we get in return.Work to which we feel attached and personally involved in. Activities that fulfil us. Writers with whom we connect, movies, maybe music even.

Now, some say that we should expose ourselves to an opposite/complementary outlook on the world. Comrade Bilal made this point about the material we read, if we read things we agree with, deliberately, we are stifling our growth.I agree with that, that in some contexts that holds true. But socially, and with your work, from experience I disagree.

It is those who validate my outlooks that I am most comfortable with, which is an essential part of progress, Maslow’s kind of theory. It is work/causes that I most closely identify myself with, ito of personal values, and drive, motivation that I most excel in. It’s not all egoistic though, this validation. It’s more than that.

People who share your outlook, your perspective, are quicker able to relate to, not just quicker, rather, deeper. Because they understand where it comes from. This is different from understanding what you are doing, or aiming towards. Its understanding WHY. A common understanding leads to an automatic, natural deep empathy. This deep empathy, I believe, serves as a strong scaffolding that helps us climb higher, to develop further/higher. Because it gives freedom, space to explore and pursue this development, but also is able to aid in guiding it. Because it comes from the same place.
I like asking people questions, to learn who they are. Saying things is a teaching process, but asking questions is a learning process.

And if we are surrounded by people with whom we connect, than we can make better sense of who we are, (I got this from Kay.)
“Sometimes we can only reflect on ourselves by using the mirror of another person’s reflection” from MASH.

I’ve never been a fan of imposing what is right.I don’t think its sustainable. I much prefer knowing what is best, and trying to guide my inclinations in that direction WITHIN the context of those inclinations. So with work, OBVIOUSLY the BEST work is the most socially contributive, but I know for a damn fact that if I went to work for an NGO, I’d be more than useless, I would be COUNTER productive to their cause. Because it’s not my natural style, so I either try to find some avenue that does allow for that contribution, OR I find whatever drives me, of course assuming that it’s not something harmful to virtue.

Within doing what drives me, I make sure that the thrust is towards goodness. An organic sense of doing whats right, driven by the fundamental principles of the broad framework of good and evil. But organically tailored. So that I don’t feel alienated. Which will lead to a loneliness, which will lead to a simmering dissatisfaction, which will fester and grow, but maybe not burst, but the toxic seep will be harmful to my environment, and the environment will just have to respond, and then, well, there’ll be unhappiness all over.And NGO’s have a tough rep as is. But it’s not about NGO’s , it’s about choosing the path that is right, or best, within a context of organic inclination, rather than imposed wisdom.

I had a chat recently with a friend about this (as well as a Halqa lesson), who’s not willing to pursue an occupation that may be great, and beneficial, but that doesn’t allow him to realise his identity fully. For about 0.5 seconds I thought it was an idealistic, unrealistic decision, but then I realised how much of the personal self he would need to give up to pursue what may be “the best decision”.And whilst it may in the short run be good for him, in the long run he wouldn’t be him. And forcing himself to fit into that kind of career mould would likely be unsustainable. Or maybe he would be forced by circumstance to keep on keeping on, but the bits he would lose of himself, and how that would affect those around him, would be just too unreasonable a trade off.

This would result in a deep loneliness, an alienation. Good on you pal, I know you’re reading this.

Another friend recently advised that in the things closest to us, we should find comfort and sanctuary. Where we are pursuing growth or achievement with bravery, we need a base of comfort from which we can venture forth. Perhaps if this is not the case, all our energy is spent in surviving a balance, leaving no room to climb out, up.

It’s by no means a perfect world, and of course you’ll never find that exact match of work or company, but we should identify those elements most central to who we are, and not compromise on those bits as much as possible. But of course, where we have to accept, it is best that we do. But even then, try to create an exit plan if its possible. If its not, well then we just have to suck it up.

We shouldn’t be lonely folks, we should try and do whats right, but also try and do what’s best for us, not just whats right, in aiming for our personal best, guided by values and principles that are best, we may find the best version of ourself.And our environment might respond.Maybe.I think.Maybe.Maybe not.

And there’s a level of loneliness that will always linger, but let it be the 20%, not the 80%.

(also related to this is my Chat with Dude: http://lifeandtimesblog.wordpress.com/2010/02/20/chat-with-dude/

March 4, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 Comment

A side-order please

I respect medication that has side-effects more than ones that don’t. If a med has side-effects, it tells me that its so powerful that it extends beyond the problem at hand, to affect something else.
Like a sprinter who crosses the line and keeps on running.

Also, if the doctor’s willing to prescribe it despite the consequences of the side effects, he must REALLY trust it to treat the affectation.

Of course it may just mean shoddy formulation, and/or a lack of alternatives…

February 22, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , | Leave a comment

Chat with Dude

Heres a Gchat I had with a homey.
Kay did a post, after I sent her this chat.

http://kayenchantey.blogspot.com/2010/01/to-have-friend-you-need-first-to-be.html

I pasted to word, did a find and repalce on the name of friend and replaced his name with Dude.

so its anon, but it happened.But i’ve edited it a bit.

10:35 PM well
its informed quite a bit by something i read about what Marx said about man being alienated from his work
when its an industrial/non-agrarian economy
its basically a thought on how
if we dont find support for our inclinations/preferences
10:36 PM which is simply put as, i think, “validation”
then we will feel lonely
and alienated
and i think i view the two words are different from one another
im not sure
im not sure about much
but this relates to what u say about
meaning
for a while i swung around to the meaning aspirations
10:37 PM but now i think im swinging back
u see
i think
that the psyche
well
rather
i like what Maslow says
about hierarchy of needs
and man can only reach fulfillment
if he traverses stages
10:38 PM so the same with searching for meaning.i think we’re not all
built for wanting to contribute
in the sense of social impact.i think maybe some of us are looking for significance, not meaning.
(that just came to me)
so lets say i dont REALLY want to tutor kids to read but lets say
i do want to own sandton city
if i own sandton city
il kick out all the hawkers and people with jalopy cars
that will make me significant
and we could get semantic and say im still contributing somehow
10:40 PM but some folks ,most folks, talk about contribution
in terms of positive social outcomes
dude.: it doesnt need to be
me: and maybe what we’re really saying is that we want personal fulfiliment through some sense of significance
MAYBE
dude.: but one does have to have an idea for themself at least of how its a contribution.but that is the nafs.
me: contribution to what?
me: or who?
dude.: to the benefit of others (a community, a sibling, a friend,the social structure, informing a narrative of a civilization, your mother, the environment,Allah, anything other than yourself)

me: im not sure if i agree
i agree that this is where happiness wil come from, NO DOUBT..
everyone says so, everyone knows so
10:43 PM but i think that this whole thing im saying about the real desire being about achieving significance, is important in how it ties up to Maslows kind of concept
that unless and until
i can either achieve what im desiring
or perceiving myself to desire
or unless and until
i can truly sincerely purify that desire
10:44 PM then i will be unable to fully commit to achievement of contribution
now
10:45 PM maybe, to be cynical, in our circles , we buy into contribution like corporate aspirants buy into promotion.its the goal thats been set so we chase it,maybe, quite possibly, the real desire is self fulfilment of the desire to be of worldy consequence.
now thats important
cos if i just wana own sandton city
then spending my time trying to teach kids to read
will always still make me feel alienated from myself
so maybe i need to go and try to buy sandton city
10:46 PM and once i have bought it
then i will teach kids to read
without a sense of alienation/loneliness
or maybe
i will try and buy sandton city
and realise its empty
thus purifying myself of that desire
and so i will be able to teach kids better
dude.: part of mission and finding truth is the development of good, Allah inclined ambitions
me: ive never been a fan of folks talking about conitrbution or spirituality with zeal
me: mostly cos i have this doubt about my own sincerity.Zeal is sometimes narrow.Sometimes
extreme.
but its not something u can easily force
these things must be organic,
not imposed, to be sustainable
10:48 PM dude.: naturally so. i read your thing on inner solo
its nice
10:49 PM me: now my rebuff to the piece on loneliness, was that we should not accept loneliness, and that the ppl around us, the work we do, where we live.these things help us attain to a sense of validaiton.and that valdation helps us climb up to the next level of who we can be.
its bullshit
that piece i wrote
dude.: ok
me: i had an anaolgy
that man is like a tree
there are roots
whence we come from
10:50 PM our parents
background etc
where we come from, background
which are not always easily visible
but play a critical role in who we stand as
then there are branches
and fruits,that which comes from us, which is more apparent than the roots
but ,
10:51 PM the deeper our roots
or rather
the thicker our stem
the higher we can grow
u know
u cut a trees bark
and count the number of rings
to see its age
it grows on itself
and a tree has xylem
10:52 PM which serves two functions, one is to transport water, which sustains it
and the other, is to prvde support
to give it rigidity
now, unless we find validaiton in those things closest to us, then we cannot sustain ourselves best,not have the best support for our structure
now this was a big mull about choosing a companion
as well as about work
dude.: lol
10:53 PM me: i will write a rebuff soon iA
dude.: iA
me: now
back to validation
i think its critical
i told u about UK guy
we click so well cos we have same world view
10:54 PM now sure, some folks say
u should have ppl that complement ur world view
not reflect it
that is healthy , true
but life, my life has shown me that
the sustainable stuff comes from folks who reinforce u
so the great friendships are with those who share my outlook
see, even socially, without that group that shares or validates or reinforces u
u feel lonely
10:55 PM all of us have hung with guys that are great guys
but not have the same outlook
so
if someone is a person that feels a sense of alienation from the world
(this is where it starts to get slippery)
then, in the long run, they will find great friendships
with others who feel that same sense of alienation
10:56 PM dude.: many of our great okes do have similar outlook i think
me:
dude.: i agree
me: its a way of looking at the world that made us want to contribute
and that process
not the act or desire of contribution
but the billions of synapses about everything
and finding ppl with whom u find comfort
in similar cause circles
is no accident
it is not the cause or the mission in itself
that speaks to the fact that they really have great relationsips
I THINK
its not the cause of contribution
that makes us like each other
10:57 PM its a few steps before that
(or is that obvious?)
that makes us like each other
so within contribution too, if I choose micro-enterprise or waqf
i’m closer, more validated to the other guy who chooses that too.
Not because of that on its own, but in the broader scheme of shared
outlooks that led us there.
If you choose journalism or tutoring, we’re close but not as close as the other
dude.: yes
its obvious
me:
now
10:58 PM what u are talking about in beginning of this painful typing experience
is that of personal fulifilment
call it spiritual achievement
or self actualisation
its about finding your way home to essence
and that requires certain scaffolding to help u climb there
work and spouse being central to that big xylem cylinder
and then further out
10:59 PM books u read
social circles
etc
( ie other stuff i cant think of)
so, i dont know if contribution
is the crux of it
some greek dude said
happiness comes from doing good things well
i buy that completely
I don’t really buy that owning sandton city thing personally
but I mentioned it as an exercise in questioning our driving motive
is it contribution or significance?
the cause doesn’t change the fact
but understanding the cause helps us perform better
11:00 PM
u know how things used to work out in olden times?
me: with arranged marriages?
there are many reasons
me: for those relationships working out
but i believe one reason
me: is that those arrangements were made on the basis of common backgrounds
dude.: a lot of this rabble is about how to be happy
screw that
just do whats right
but i get it
it has to be about how to be happy
11:02 PM esp in seeing the world from a spouse finding paradigm
me: but not JUST spouse paradigm
i read a life and times a few months ago that i sent out when i just got to london
and in it
i said two most important things in a person life
is spouse
and the work u do
11:03 PM so its both those
and yes, both those are challenges i face right now
but i want to talk about happiness in the context of lonliness and alienation
me: alienation is the term i will use to make it less mushy
dude: *censored *
1:05 PM me: fuck man
that cuts me
thats why im heistant to write a rebuff
not much galls me more to hear that
but with u saying it, i have to hink hard about it
haha
more thinking
11:06 PM dude.: galls
nice word
11:07 PM me: il try to simplify
11:08 PM dude.: lol
me: but i think folks buying into a writing about loneliness
so eagerly
is just wrong
it just aint right man
but its a reality
we live lies
we are forced to live lives that mean we take situations that alienate us
me: but where we can
we must find those xylem strands that help us expand our base
11:11 PM now, a moslem should just say
God is that Chief Xylem strand
but i assume thats implicit, and a little oversimplifying.
all of life and the self is about God.ALL OF IT.
And strength or weakness,of the self,
or success and failure in life, that all affects
relationship with God.

February 20, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | 4 Comments

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