Friday, December 16, 2011

And the party begins

SO yesterday was the absolute worse day to be on the roads of Johannesburg, if I had known this then I would’ve stayed in my home. Later on I came to hear that it was by far “The Busiest Day of the Year”. This is because since today is a public holiday and next week is Christmas, followed by New Year the week after, most people worked for the last day yesterday and so almost everyone got off from work early and people made their way, trying to sort out last minute things before the holidays. It was madness, and I am really not exaggerating. I felt as if I was in a movie scene where everyone is trying to leave the city at the same time, you know one of those movies where the aliens come to earth or there’s some disaster looming and everyone just wants to leave, that’s what the streets of Johannesburg was like yesterday. I came home with a headache, completely hot because the summer heat was intensified tenfold while stuck in unmoving traffic, but I was grateful that I was not one of the people rushing to go off on holiday. The peace of my home was welcoming and today the quiet streets of Johannesburg seem like a blessing.

All this preparation and planning reminded me that most people have begun their partying. Yes, it’s that time of the year when everyone goes away on holiday, the schools are closed, people are off from work and everyone is enjoying the end of year partying, because after all we’ve all worked hard the whole year and we deserve the break!

 Now I have no problem with this, I understand that people work hard and that a good break is welcoming, but somehow it just seems that all the partying and the spending of money just makes people heedless. We spend so much money at the end of the year that we have to spend half of the new year trying to make up for all our spending, and after all the partying and holidays, what do we really have to show for it? If we’re lucky then we benefit from this for a short while, but as soon as the New Year kicks in, we’re back to struggling to make ends meet.

There’s something else about all this mindless spending though, once again it’s selfish. It makes us forget that there are millions of people in the world who have never had a holiday. Millions, who have No break from poverty, starvation, disease and oppression. Millions, who spend year after year without any celebrations, with no peace and definitely without any partying. So it just doesn’t make sense to me that year after year when it comes to December, masses of people in certain places plan for their holidays and their parties, spending huge sums of money in doing this, while this is unfathomable for so many others.

I know I might sound like a boring old prude, but all I’m trying to say is that while we’re thinking about our holidays and our breaks, perhaps we should also consider other people across the world who are suffering and then maybe, just maybe we would be inclined to scale down a bit and share. If we give even a small percentage of our end-year bonuses to those in need, it will make a huge difference to them and we can still enjoy our holidays. Imagine if all those people on the streets of Johannesburg yesterday had to share just a little with someone in need, how many people would have a meal to eat because of this, or some water or clothes. If so many of us can afford to party and go for holiday then surely we are not of those who are in need. If we share even a little then more people may have the chance of having some happiness and relaxation at the end of the year, even if it is only temporary.

So while I hope that people have a good holiday, I hope more that those people in need throughout the world could also have a holiday. And while we are enjoying our holidays, let us not forget what our purpose on this earth is, and that purpose does not include living for ourselves only.

May everyone have a wonderful holiday season, and let us try to remember to share!

Image from here

Monday, December 12, 2011

Your chance to make a small difference

There's so much suffering in the world and sometimes it feels like there's not much that us ordinary people can do about it. Every contribution is something though, it makes a difference to another person so we should never be put off from doing or giving because our little contribution seems minor.

Today I received one quick and easy way that you can make a difference and I decided to share this. Here are the details below:

Since the start of the recent drought in the Horn of Africa, I’ve met countless families in Ethiopia struggling to grow the food they need.

So when an opportunity like this comes along, I’m quick to share it far and wide.
If you take this short online quiz, our generous partner LG Electronics will feed a hungry child in Ethiopia.

Then share it with your networks to ensure another child is fed!

If you take the quiz and tell three friends and each of your friends tell three friends, imagine how many children in Ethiopia we could feed together!

Test your knowledge, engage others, and transform the lives of hungry children -- all in just a few minutes.
Will you test your Ethiopia IQ and then challenge your friends?

Thanks for getting involved,
Spread the word!Share on Facebook Judith

Judith Schuler
Communications Officer, Ethiopia
World Food Programme

I took the quiz and failed terribly, which shows how much more I need to do and learn. Maybe you'll do better, in any case, maybe this can make a difference to someone even if it is small.

We are told that on the Day of Resurrection we will be handed our books of deeds and we will be shocked to see that in it every single thing would have been recorded, even things that we thought was minor.

I think we all need to have as many good deeds as possible, so let's try and do good wherever and how ever we can!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Something worth emphasizing

As I drove past the shiny, two-door sports car, my first instinct was; “Wow! That’s a smart Car!” But then I took a closer look...

The car was so small that probably only two people could sit in it. There seemed to be no space for anything else. This was definitely not a car someone would take to go shopping or run everyday errands, it just didn’t seem suitable or practical for this at all. Then I realized that was the point. A car like this was not intended for doing the groceries or picking kids up or anything else to do with other people at all. A car like this can be termed “An Individualistic car”.

What is the point though, I wonder, of having something that drives extremely well, looks really good, has all the latest gadgets and features, if you can’t use it to benefit anyone else, except yourself. I know many people will disagree with me. These days I feel like all my ideas are old-fashioned, even archaic, but it just doesn’t seem like any fun to have something that you can’t share with others.

This goes for anything though, anything new, expensive and modern. Take someone’s house for instance. If you have a smart house, with all the latest modern furniture, glass doors, priceless ornaments, etc, then how can that be a home for anyone? You can’t really share that with others because if they come to your house they’ll be too afraid to even sit somewhere because everything looks like a catalogue showroom.

Sharing is supposed to be a fundamental aspect of society. We are not meant to live individualistic lives, we are meant to be individuals who are an important part of other groups. The family, community, society, all these groups are supposed to work together so that we have a world in which people help each other and take care of each other.

Today everything is in reverse, it’s abnormal. The emphasis is on an individualistic lifestyle, and because of this, people in our very own families, communities and societies are suffering. Because of this individualistic mindset, teenagers are getting involved in all types of vices, they’re taking drugs, drinking, clubbing, etc. because they have no support system. Because of this focus on individualism, parents don’t spend enough time with their children and children are left wondering where they fit in. In this individualistic society, your neighbours can be evicted right in front of you and you don’t do a thing to change things. Your family members may have to travel with public transport and walk very far and wait very long, while you drive around town in your shiny convertible.  Within this individualistic society, all we think about is ourselves, how we can better our own lives, and we hardly consider how we can better the lives of others.

It shouldn’t matter if you drive a run down, old car, as long as it gets you where you need to go. It shouldn’t matter if your house is plain and simple, as long as you have a comfortable place to live. It shouldn’t matter if you’re not wearing name branded clothing or the latest fashions, as long as you have clothing to cover your body. It shouldn’t matter if you don’t get to eat out every week, or if your meals are plain and simple, as long as you have food to eat. What should matter are all the people out there who don’t have food, homes, clothes or cars! What should matter are other people! We are not meant to live individualistic lifestyles,   we are all put on this earth together to help and support each other and we will all be answerable for what we do.

The world would be a better place if we all stood together and helped one another, if we shed our individualistic attitudes and stop obsessing about , “me,me,me”, and start thinking about others, that’s when the world will become a better place. Until then...well, it really doesn’t matter how much we think we are improving our own lives, if we only think about ourselves then all we are, are selfish individuals. We may have the smart car, the fancy house, the designer clothes and shoes, and the three course gourmet meals, but that’s all we have, and in the end that doesn’t count for much at all.  

Image 1 from here
Image 2 from here

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Confessions of a non-Shopaholic

 I really don’t like shopping; I think I have mentioned this before. I’m not saying that I don’t enjoy buying the stuff I need. Alhamdullillah (All Praise is for Allah) I really do like going out and getting the stuff that I need, and stuff that I want as well. But I could never understand how people could spend hours and hours walking around in a shopping mall, going in and out of every single store. It’s madness in my opinion. Not that I haven’t fallen victim to this type of crazy shopping myself, to be honest I also have my moments of ‘shopaholism’. I remember when we my family and I went to Egypt a few years ago, it was so great to see fashionable Islamic clothing that we just went mad. My brothers were extremely irritated when we spent like about 4 to 5 hours in one particular shop. On a regular basis however, if I can avoid shopping then I do, and when I do have to go shopping I always try and make sure it’s on a week day when the shopping mall is quiet.
This is why I was particularly shocked when I watched a news clip the other evening about how crazy shopping can get over the Christmas period. I think it was Sky News that we were watching and they showed how people were going crazy shopping in America. One woman pepper-sprayed a whole crowd of people to get what she wanted; there were also mini stampedes in some supermarkets. Just watching the video clips on how people were “losing it” to get good shopping deals, disturbed me. I mean really, all the commotion over “stuff”, and “discounts”. Now, I know that people are doing Christmas shopping and they have a lot of gifts to buy for their loved ones, but it still is just material things and losing your dignity to get those things doesn’t make any sense at all.

Then a few days ago there was a bomb scare at the shopping mall new my home. They still don’t know what the motive was but there was a bag found with some explosive material or whatever it was, the police were very cryptic, they were obviously trying to reduce the panic. Fortunately nothing happened, some shop keepers saw the bag, became curious and alerted the police. Although the reason for this is not known, it seems that it could’ve been so that the place could be robbed or whatever it is. How crazy is that? Once again, it’s all about material things.

All this shopping hype makes me wonder about things. Year after year, month after month, week after week, people still continue to shop and shop. The world is in economic depression, but still the shopping centres are always full. New things get introduced on a regular basis, and of course people have to have the new things, and if you don’t have money for all the things, it’s okay, because there’s this nice little plastic thing, called a credit card.

The ploy at getting people to buy things is reaching all time highs. Previously when a store wanted you to take out an account with them they’d send you a letter telling you about all the benefits of opening an account with them. Nowadays they send you the letter with a personalised card. All you have to do is go into the store and “buy” something and the card will get activated. You don’t even need to fill out forms so they can check your credit status. The cards they send are beautiful, with lovely designs and colours on it, but the best thing about it is Your Own Name, printed perfectly on the beautiful card. Who wouldn’t be tempted to go into the store and use this? Especially when you see all the nice things that are displayed in their shop windows, naturally you’ll be itching to just go in there and use the card, right- telling yourself that you’ll be able to pay it off in small amounts so it’s no big deal. This is why I cut up those lovely cards as soon as I get them-temptation is a really bad thing, you know.

But anyway, there are many ways to get people to keep shopping; this is not the only method. Sales and discounts, brilliant advertising, free vouchers... I’m sure you’re already thinking of things you can add to this list.

So as far as shopping is concerned, it seems that as long as people are alive, people will continue to shop. Sometimes I think that perhaps this is just a part of life, and then I look back at history and find that people didn’t shop for things. They had simple lives, where they made what they needed, looked after animals, from which they further got their needs, made their own bread, etc, etc.... SO shopping then is a distinct feature of modern day society, and while I have to admit that everything is very easy and much less time consuming, I still can’t help feeling that way too much time and energy goes into shopping. That’s me though- I am a self-confessed “non-shopaholic” after all, so I guess you can expect these types of thoughts from me.

Image from here