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Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Oh Dear Cynicism Everywhere

Original Article: Daily Times
Date Published: August 2nd, 2012
Original Link: http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2012\08\02\story_2-8-2012_pg3_3

One of the many blessings of this blessed and holy month here is the ability to rekindle and bond with our community at special prayers. The highlight has always been the community Iftar on every Sunday. When all of us get together, all of us volunteer and do our bit. Our community is truly gifted with an extremely special leader who invigorates the masses with his wisdom, foresight, devotion and utter conviction. It is very rare that you find a community so diverse as ours, yet in so much harmony. Let us face it; we all bring the signature traits of home along with us and no matter how many years go by, our ancestral way of thinking remains relatively unaltered. Needless to say, our places of worship in many areas over here are a spitting image of what we see back home. Very sadly, ethnic, linguistic or sectarian politics plays its usually devastating role at our seminaries too. One wonders in amazement how a ‘House of God’ turns into a personal fiefdom of some and how some, regretfully, fool the congregation. Oh yes, the issues often stem from monetary disputes and a lack of accountability and so on. Perhaps that could be another subject for another day.

Mostly at our mosque, you run into educated professionals who volunteer for many activities and programmes. It is always enlightening to engage in conversations as it clears the thought process and helps one to understand one another a bit better. Despite the education, experience and the conditioning of the environment, there is a recurrent theme that one feels in the group. This includes me as well. The generation that left their homes in South Asia and some parts of the Middle or Far East is generally far more cynical as compared to their own offspring, the ones who are truly natural-born Americans.

One may argue that we have seen the worst in our neck of the woods, which makes us a bit edgy and hence cynicism is part of our conditioning. Though on the other hand, it makes us strive harder atwork to prove to our counterparts or colleagues that we are an extremely functional and productive breed. Often in this environment, one goes beyond the usual to impress upon the general populace that we come in peace and we are part and parcel of the fabric of this nation.

The bigger question is what makes us so cynical. Is it because we have seen our lands go through a lot of turmoil, where the rule of law was always sidelined? Where our parents went through so much struggle, just to put food on the table. Where there was so much disconnect between what people say and what people actually do. No wonder then, when you engage with most of the people back home, you hear the same echoes of cynicism and disbelief, over and over again. People do not trust one another and deception is the order of the day. The disillusioned masses seek someone to come from the wonderland and take their miseries away, knowing well that it only happens in stories that one reads or watches on the screen.

Therefore you engage us in any discussion, and we tend to bring in our religiosity one way or the other. We tend to prove to all and sundry that we are the best of the believers and we are the proud followers of the Prophet (PBUH). Then one wonders why there is so much chaos and disarray. That is what one may call a million dollar question. In other words, we must be lacking something that takes us to heights of such insecurities. The religious leaders blame this on the alienation from the ways of the Prophet (PBUH). It is debatable what truly is the way of the Prophet (PBUH). The so-called ‘vibrant’ and ‘objective’ electronic media feeds the ‘doom and gloom’ scenario very often. This literally sets the tone of a typical evening conversation between friends and relatives.

Someone at our congregation said something very powerful the other day. The power of change resides within you. What it truly means is if I want to change my life and live the way I should be living, then it all begins with me. People (myself included) tend to invent and create excuses about their inability to act. The path to success really is within our reach, provided we are honest with ourselves and committed to change.

Cynicism attracts cynicism and hence before you know it, almost the whole country is engulfed in this mess. This scribe truly believes that cynicism is an unhealthy trait in our case. At this rate and such hyper-negativity, we will not be a proud and successful nation. Come to think of it, this is a cynical statement as well. As they say, old heights die truly hard, at least in my case for sure.

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