Tag Archive | civil society

Personal Freedom, or My Freedom vs. Yours?*

Sameness in oppositesPersonal Freedom, or My Freedom vs. Yours?*

 

This is taken from a blog, I pray the author does not mind, but the discourse needs to cast a wide net, as more and more explore this dimension of their lives.

In Islam, the most fundamental principle of freedom lies within tawhid, i.e. Unity in God/Allah. All manifestations of the Creator, i.e. creation great and so small that we build concrete over it, have the right. To have that right without creating imbalance in the Divine Matrix, is like a cloth. If all threads possess the same tension, then the whole fabric maintains its integrity, but if one strand of thread becomes weak, or is stronger than the rest of the threads, then distortion in the wave occurs i.e. one affects the other. When claiming a right over a slice of the pie, how many slices can one claim without laying claim to somebody else’ slice?  This is the lesson we have to learn, how to respect and honor ourselves without disrespecting others, including other life forms! It is a sin to cause harm to any of the Creators creation in Islam, a theme which runs consistently throughout its teachings, but a fundamental theme that the human ego has a tendency to override including to one’s own self!

By Syima Aslam,

Another year is on its way out and a pristine, new one is on the doorstep. Many of us at this time of the year tend to pause and make some promises or resolutions, about the type of new people we will become in the New Year.

Last year, for the first time ever, I made some resolutions and I have been reflecting on how true, or not, I have managed to stay to them both in letter and spirit. This reflection, has in part, been inspired by an essay I read by GK Chesterton, the less well-known contemporary of Oscar Wilde and George Bernard Shaw, entitled A Defence of Rash Vows which made me think about the promises that we make, both to ourselves and to others, and how seriously we take them.

In the essay, Chesterton talks about how the vow has become an inconsequential thing. His argument is that it is actually the terror of one’s own self in modern times, or rather the terror of the weakness and mutability of the self, that has increased to such an extent that it forms the real basis to either an aversion to vows, or to treating them so lightly that they become meaningless. The essay ends with a rallying cry:

All around us is the city of small sins, abounding in back ways and retreats, but sooner or later, the towering flame will rise from the harbour announcing that the reign of the cowards is over and a man is burning his ships.

The imagery of these last lines is hauntingly evocative. The idea of a person having the willpower to take a stand at this level, not only made me pause and think, it also imbued me with a feeling close to despair at the loss of personal courage being highlighted. It accentuated the fact that an abiding characteristic of modern life is that it is full of small sins and sidesteps. There is not much anymore that resounds in greatness at either end of the personal scale; rather we fumble around in all the murky greys.

We no longer have a terror of our own selves in terms of not keeping vows or taking stands; instead, we actually celebrate this under a mantle of personal freedom. This often translates into the freedom to change and deviate from anything and everything at will. There is no longer any encouragement for taking a stand, moral or otherwise, and those who do so are derided. In my view, there is far more celebration of those who will break their word at will and manipulate situations to their own ends, than those who feel that it is morally right to honour an agreement both in word and spirit. Those who deviate are celebrated as clever, whilst those who do not are seen as being too stupid to grasp the opportunity.

When I first read the essay, I thought of the people I knew who could be depicted in this manner because of course it is so much easier to point the finger. But then I thought, why go so far? Why not take a good look at my own self? Where am I in all of this? What of all the promises I have made in life – the ones that I kept, the ones that I wanted to keep but genuinely found myself unable to do so and the ones that I broke, either without a thought or at least, without too much strenuous thinking.

This made me think – how important are words? Are we the ones who lend weight to our words or do they lend weight to us? Words and people are intimately inter-connected. The sincerity of a person is judged not only by their words but also by the accompanying actions. If I make a promise, the weight of that promise is equivalent to my weight and worth as an individual.

When the Prophet Muhammad asked the people of Mecca whether, if he told them that an enemy army was approaching from behind him, they would believe him, they said yes. This was an unequivocal testimony to the weight of his words and thus the weight of his character. In our current age, how many of our words, or even of those of national and international leaders, carry such weight? In the age of spin, has spin spun the weight out of our words? How often, now, can we talk about someone being a man of his word? Would anyone be able to say this about us? After all, it can only be said where the belief is present that as the word has been given so it will be done.

Of course, inevitably there are times when words fail. When word is given but despite every effort it becomes impossible to keep. The important point however is: was it genuinely impossible to keep or was it a whim inevitably disregarded? For there are times when words are spun like a web, when they are uttered not only lightly without any intention of adherence but also, deliberately used to create a false impression or to entrap. What is the weight then of the person uttering such words, not only in the eyes of other people but also, in their own eyes? Must it not cause you to sink in your own estimation when you know, that even as you speak them, your words are meaningless?

Do you, as a consequence, not become meaningless in your own eyes? Without the strength of our convictions to give weight and provide anchorage, may we not be blown about lightly by the breeze of any whim or fad? Is it perhaps not one of the worst aspects of our current age that not only have we lost the terror of this, but that instead we positively delight in it.

Repeat a LieIn contemporary culture we frame this concept in a slightly, but very significantly, different way to Chesterton. We no longer talk about a terror of the self or, that it is a terror of our own weakness that stops us making the level of commitment that a vow or promise entails. Instead, we talk about personal freedom. While I believe wholeheartedly in personal freedom and the right to self determination, I feel that the concept is one that is widening as we go along.

Nowadays, it can mean my personal freedom regardless of either the cost to, or the infringement of, another’s. It is this type of personal freedom that either stops us from binding ourselves fully or allows us to feel free to bind ourselves continuously but always with a sense of the possibility of retreat. The back door, the way out is always there, always in the corner of our eye. The concept that you and I will fight back to back and take on the world, cannot exist in this scenario because what if either of us has a change of heart at the crucial moment? Likewise, neither does this scenario allow for the burning of boats or bridges.

It is not that I believe that a person should live an unhappy life rather than admit that a particular endeavour may not have been the best thing to commit to. Life is not a straight line; we are subject to many twists and turns all of which also have an effect on our own selves. There have been times when I have felt that I am on a rollercoaster, clinging on for dear life with one very slippery hand, while my body free wheels willy-nilly behind me. What I am deploring is not fallibility but fickleness; the lack of commitment to anything, from an ideal to a person, the lack of appropriate weighting given to words, that is celebrated as personal freedom.

Should this freedom really mean that we can be whatever we choose, whenever we choose, no matter what the cost? Surely there needs to be a balance; a balance between self expression and a responsibility both to ourselves and to those around us. The cause of personal freedom should not mean that we sacrifice courage, steadfastness and the ability to take a stand not only for ourselves but also for others.

What we have to ask ourselves is – in our ‘more for me no matter what the expense to you’ culture, is the actual expense our own selves? In our search for more encounters, more intensity, more excitement, more thrills, ever-increasing satiation of the senses is it actually our own selves that are diminishing? Is it our own sense of self, our own integrity that is the casualty? After all, how many relationships can we taste, consume, throw away before we are so jaded that they become irrelevant or, conversely, we do. How many promises can we make and break, how many stands can we take and then forsake, before our words become meaningless and in the process so do we.

Source*

Related Topics:

The 12-yr-old Who Rocked the Earth Summit

Happiness Doesn’t Grow on Trees

Who or What Gives You Life!

Humanity as a Goal

The House of Three Rooms

All Things are Linked

The Law of Three: Concealment and Attraction

From the Symbolic Ascension to the Ascension of Our Lives

The Echo of Life

A Tool to Refocus Your Emotions

The Tale of Negativity

The Rose Within…

The Student and the Atheist Professor

Another World is Possible!

The Potato Royalty to Be Paid!?

How Western Diets Make the World Sick

Which Mask Did You Wear Today?

Gender Equity in Islam

From Liberation to Re-enslavement

What Did You Plant Today?

Finding Sanity in the City

It’s Time to Get Real About Halal/Kosher Meat!

The Selfish Giant

Earth Magnetism and the Human Body

My Language is the Window to My Soul

Why Does God Let These Things Happen To Me?

The Earth Recycles Too!

Herbal Remedies the New Antibiotics

The Gift (Sunnah) of a Smile

Turkey: Music Therapy in Modern Healthcare

Even Babies Know What is Fair!

The Food Deserts of America

A Meeting of Minds

Self Love is a Journey

Finding the Real You

Bullying a Legacy from Our Leaders?

Arguing God from Being?

The Idols of Our Lives

Hajj Changed My Life!

Messages Behind ‘Ashura

The Tale of the Sands

The Intelligent Heart

The Importance of Self-Compassion

The High Price of Inequality

30 Things to Stop Doing to Yourself

The Man Who Stomped His Shadow

In These Times, Being an Introvert is Better Than It Seems!

The Power of Joy!

The Human Frequency

I Am Spongy Bob!

More Evidence Smart Meters Endangers Health and Personal Security

Choosing Free Will

‘In Debt We Trust’

Rape: Challenging the Acceptable

4,250% Increase in Foetal Deaths from Flu Vaccines*

Reading Between the Lines: Who’s Calling for Justice?

A Virus Called Fear

Faith vs. Ego!

Heavenly Signs: New Moon in Scorpio and November 2012

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They Did It!

They Did It!

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Now the real work begins…

The True Peace

The first peace, which is the most important,
is that which comes within the souls of people
when they realize their relationship,
their oneness, with the universe and all its powers,
and when they realize that at the center
of the universe dwells Wakan-Taka (the Great Spirit),
and that this center is really everywhere, it is within each of us.
This is the real peace, and the others are but reflections of this.
The second peace is that which is made between two individuals,
and the third is that which is made between two nations.
But above all you should understand that there can never
be peace between nations until there is known that true peace,
which, as I have often said, is within the souls of men.

Black Elk, Oglala Sioux & Spiritual Leader (1863 – 1950)

Related Topics:

Egyptian Armed Forces Have Taken Power

Statement of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces

Egypt Strikes in Support of the Protestors

Statement from the Youth of the Lotus Revolution

STATEMENT of the OFFICE OF THE VICE-PRESIDENT of Egypt

Why the Army Won’t Shoot Protesters

US-Backed Attacks on Egyptian Masses!

US Playing Both Sides in Egypt

The Youth’s Day of Anger

The Student Who Sparked the Lotus Revolution

The Jasmine Revolution

The International Elite vs. Communal Democracy of Ivory Coast

U.S. Set to Destabilize the Rest of the World

Egyptian Armed Forces Have Taken Power

Egyptian Armed Forces Have Taken Power

At the time of posting this on Feb. 11 2011, the Armed Forces had taken power on the Day of Departure of President Mubarak after his speech of Feb. 10 2011 enraged protestors further who massed today in the biggest demonstration to date. Former President Mubarak has now left Cairo.

 

* * * * * *

Ahmed Eleiba , Thursday 10 Feb 2011

A field army commander tells Ahram Online the just released communique of the Supreme Armed Forces Council means the army has seized power, for an interim period

The just released Communique #1 of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, announcing that the Council will remain in an open-ended session, in order to safeguard “the people’s achievements and demands”, is being interpreted widely as indicating that the Egyptian army has effectively seized political power in the country. A senior field commander gave Ahram Online’s correspondent in Tahrir Square  his own interpretation of the statement. According to the senior army officer who preferred anonymity, the Supreme Council is about to announce, in statement #2, that it has taken over authority in the country, for an interim period, the duration of which is to be determined later.

Asked about what such a step might mean for the president, the vice-president and the prime minister, the armed forces commander said “these are people who have no power over the of the armed forces.”

Source:

Related Topics:

Statement of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces

Egypt Strikes in Support of the Protestors

Statement from the Youth of the Lotus Revolution

The Student Who Sparked the Lotus Revolution

The Jasmine Revolution

The Youth’s Day of Anger

Why the Army Won’t Shoot Protesters

US-Backed Attacks on Egyptian Masses!

STATEMENT of the OFFICE OF THE VICE-PRESIDENT of Egypt

US Playing Both Sides in Egypt

U.S. Set to Destabilize the Rest of the World

Anti-Austerity and Living on the Edge

Anti-Austerity and Living on the Edge

By Hwaa Irfan

I pray governments facing anti-austerity measures are looking deep within and at the individuals who make up the lower classes of society. This section of society has been the tools used to build what has been wasted. These people have been the ones whose appetites have been whetted over a long period of time by governments who prior to the global economic crisis were almost on the verge of believing in their invincibility.  It could almost be considered a success story to have driven individuals within society to the believing that governments could do it all. It could almost be considered a success story to have ‘converted’ individuals into believing that values were ‘old fashioned’, the sky’s the limit, and all desires can be fed. The diminishing rate of diversity and independent thought was dwindling fast, and the only currency acted on behalf the state to create a society of automatons who could be led wherever the state wind blows.  It is with contempt that governments increasingly find themselves not in need of or affected by public opinion. Like U.S. food aid which seeks to ‘introduce’ into a starving community foreign foods to increase demand for U.S. foods, so have governments increased dependency on governments for all solutions – amazing given the state of the world!

In the U.S. as mid-terms elections are about jobs and nothing else, voters forget  how it was they who allowed Administration after Administration spend extravagantly their wealth waging economic, scientific, food, socio-cultural, and military war in and against other countries; as if changing governments will change the problem in their interest.  It was not as if British civil society was not riddled with the problems from poverty, child abuse, broken families, mental health, teenage pregnancies, and a growing problem with education and the health service, prior to the global economic crisis, so what more could possibly be in store.

With a growing sense of powerlessness amongst the people when it comes to the running of countries in the West, the illusion has been shattered that they are any better off than any developing country. It may even take a while, and a few more attempts at current systems to realize that what was had, and enjoyed by a few globally speaking, is quite literally costing the earth and therefore unsustainable. Until that realization dawns for many instead of a few, here we are faced with deteriorating societies who may very well be left to cope or not cope on their own.

It must be a frightening time for the youth who until now had hope to take their respective places in the world, but find that adults who have told them for most of their lives have left very little to hope for. Of course there is always hope where self esteem, and imagination is intact, but in the journey to this depot, many have not learnt how to do, but have only learnt how to have. Boredom and frustration can lead to doing crazy and sometimes dangerous things in order just to feel that one is alive. Like the massive underground rave parties which are illegal in the U.K. returning on the public scene. Obviously designed to not be in this place or time on the planet, raves offer a time out from the humdrum of life. They also offer a brain numbing experience, as the musical fix is about image rather than feelings, with music so loud on 30th October 2010. The police were called in to end what has been illegal for over 20 years.

Unlike its British African-Caribbean roots which were house parties which offered the opportunity for attendees to help someone pay their rent, and to connect with others of the same values in a hostile environment,  raves  offer the youth a cheap alternative on a massive proportion.  There reputation not only as noise pollutants, but as hot spots of illegalities led to being banned. The rave in the heart of the city in a disused building in London, U.K. in October 2010 was announced on Facebook to ensure full attendance. Said one raver aged 27 to the Guardian:

“There is a self-entitlement with the generation that has grown up on the internet. They’ve already destroyed the music and publishing industry, now they’re working on destroying the film industry. Next might be the event industry which is crying out to be destroyed.

“There is a genuine feeling that if they want to do it, then why can’t they do it? If we want free songs, then why can’t we get free songs? If we want these parties in the centre of London then why don’t we have these parties in the centre of London?” 

The logic may not be apparent, but the fact that this ravers finds nothing worth being accountable to is. 

The rave was to packed (400) for police to gatecrash, so all roads leading to the rave were closed. The ravers rushed on the police, and by 12.50am the rave officially qualified as a serious public disorder. The Territorial Support Group arrived on the scene, and by 1.00am bottles and bricks were flying, and shop windows were being broken, yet by 1.45am there was a new influx of ravers! It was not until 4.15am that the police were able to enter. 

There is less and less for youth to look up to in the public sphere where true mentors are severely lacking. Just take a look at the behavior of Italian President Berlusconi, who is being investigated by his own MPs over a sex scandal involving many women, including prostitutes. How can one respect such a head of state? 

The problem with raves though is the psychological impact. As much as the talk from ravers is one of liberty and freedom, the rave enforces a cloned identity, a mob identity. It is almost like being in a trance. The drugs on the scene probably have a lot to do with it, but the music played is a drug within itself. Instead of the collective experience being a liberating experience, it entraps the mind making one mindless, and like any addiction it is a form of escapism that hungers to be maintained. 

The Reality

In Britain today, the welfare state costs £190bn a year! Some of that is needed to help those who are after all a product of the state. In an effort to cut that welfare bill, the U.K. has been looking to the U.S. for a solution. That solution currently a White Paper, aims to cut the number of people out of work by forcing the unemployed to do voluntary work for at least 30 hours over a 4-week period. If this is not done, then they will get no social security allowance for three months!

Putting on a rave is one way of making money as the social security allowance currently is £50.95 weekly for the under 25’s and £64.30 for over 25’s. This is not a significant amount in a country where the cost of living is high, but there are many ways of making a living, which anti-austerity measures may cause to become more common than previously, which may counter the aim to get the unemployed back into the routine of working for a living. Depending on where and how they live, this may be a problem given the independent report by the charity Joseph Rowntree Foundation that the basic standard of living in the U.K. for a single person is £14,400 before tax! That is £175.34 per week, and for a family with two children £29,900. However, this is based on current spending needs, which allows one to be part of society, and not excluded from societal norms. For example the charity points out the rising cost of food on low income families, the need to buy presents for birthdays etc., home computers for school children, and then of course there is the rising cost of public transport, and childcare if one goes out to work.

Unemployment dropped by 8000 in September, which might be connected with the summer holidays after which many people tend to resign! Currently unemployment stands at 2.47 million. Does the U.K. have that number of jobs in offer? In some of the provincial cities, the rate of employment is as much as 32% (Liverpool), which presents a real culture of unemployment, when employment is linked to education.

By labeling all the unemployed as a culture of “worklessness” does not identify the problem, but exacerbates it because believe it or not, some people do want to improve their standard of living, and some people simply cannot! From the Guardian welfare worker Aubrey Lane outlined the following:

“I am a welfare rights officer working for a local authority. Most of my work comes from social workers either employed by the same authority or by the NHS. I help people with physical disabilities, sensory impairments, mental health problems or a mental illness, learning disabilities. I also help the elderly and those recovering from strokes or head injuries. I assist them to claim the benefits they are entitled to by getting their application forms right from the start. I help with all the state benefits but the vast majority of my work comes in the form of disability living allowance (DLA) and incapacity benefit (IB). Most importantly I accompany claimants to any appeal and speak on their behalf.

“All applications are processed by Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) staff first, and in the case of incapacity and disability they can refer people for a medical opinion. When an application is not deemed suitable this is where the appeal process commences. It is quite intimidating for the individual concerned. They are being judged by a panel as to whether they are as disabled or incapable as they say.

“The system is very complicated, and application forms are both long and intimidating. Often, the questions require an opinion about how a person copes in different circumstances and at different times of the day. This causes confusion and concern, especially with the elderly and the mentally ill. People are genuinely frightened of saying the wrong thing.

“Atos, the company being awarded contracts to find many unfit people capable for work, has a long association in doing assessments of claimants both for IB and DLA. It does not have a very good reputation in my line of work. I have attended a number of medical assessments with clients and have had to explain the term “bipolar” to an Italian professional and “Asperger’s” to a Greek one – neither of whom seemed to have heard of the terms before, yet here they were passing judgment on my client’s fitness to work. I have seen claimants turned down on IB assessments with zero points, only to be awarded full entitlement at appeal, and have also seen DLA claimants found to be not entitled to any help, then have both high care and high mobility needs awarded at a tribunal. Clearly farcical!

“Many of our clients would simply not appeal without a reassuring presence of one of my excellent team. The resource of expert advice and support is essential to anyone wishing to appeal a decision. Sadly, that resource is becoming a scare commodity. This will leave many claimants alone and vulnerable, and they will simply not exercise their rights. This factor alone will fulfill the politicians ambition of reducing expenditure in the field of benefits.

“Contrary to what has been said, the vast majority of benefit claimants do not like to be thought of as getting something they don’t deserve. This is why under-claiming is so rife, especially among the senior citizens. But that doesn’t make headlines, does it?”

From welfare worker Matt Brown:

“I work as a freelance welfare rights officer and have worked for Citizens Advice bureaux, solicitors and Sure Start children’s centres over the past 17 years. I also find the government’s thinking on welfare both confused and confusing.

“I call to mind Jenny, a client of mine from an Exeter children’s centre. Her partner left her when their second child was three months old – her children are now eight and three respectively. Jenny is living in a two-bedroom private rented house in Wonford, which is the most deprived ward in Devon. She works 30 hours a week in a bid to balance work and bringing up children. She pays £79 per week for childcare for the youngest child while she is at work.

“Jenny gets £6.70 an hour and after tax and national insurance brings home £171 a week. The children share a room and the rent for her house is £650 a month. This is about average on the large estate, where once almost all the housing was council houses. Her tax credits amount to £219.76 a week, her child benefit is £33.70 and she gets £69.01 in housing benefit, which in her case is £641 per month. All told, the money she has left per week after rent , council tax and childcare is £316.99. Her total benefits – child benefit, tax credits, housing benefit – per week are £322.47.

“Jenny has made the best of a bad situation. With a child under seven years old, she could have chosen to remain on income support. If this was the case she would receive a total of £327.85, leaving her with a disposable income of £161.39. It costs the state directly £5.38 a week less to have Jenny working than having her do nothing. It benefits her by £152.60 a week to work (which is largely spent in the local economy and adds to tax revenues).

“The cuts will impact her. In April, her housing benefit will go down by around £27 per week overnight. Her tax credits will fall by £7.88 per week as allowable childcare costs reduce from 80% to 70%. Child benefit will be frozen, meaning a further reduction in real terms. Overnight she will be at least £35 a week worse off. How is this making work pay?

“So just what is being supported here? First, housing benefit is a symptom of the real problem of lack of affordable housing. If Jenny loses her job and goes on income support she will have to find at least £30 a week from her benefits to pay the rent. The rent will not go down, because there is a shortage of rental accommodation. She can’t easily move because she’s already in the cheapest part of Exeter. She will just be poorer.

“Second, tax credits are as much about supporting employers who are not paying a living wage as they are about “making work pay”. How sustainable this is from the public purse is a bigger problem than supporting the habitually work-shy. In Jenny’s case it is just £5.38 a week cheaper for the state to have Jenny working than not working”.

It has to be acknowledged that the problem is compounded in the city, whereby to get the basic necessities, one has to turn to a man-made resource, instead of the natural resources of the environment. In addition, the social support which was once widely available, is sparse to say the least. This is the living reality for many, of which the government underestimates their situations and what they are willing to do to redeem the situation. One can choose to ignore these examples and let it be their destiny to end up on the streets, the children failing at school, and/or getting into the kind of trouble that can last them a life time – an additional cost to the state in the long term. Or, one can do as some futuristic films suggests, when one is no longer of any use to the state, to be recycled/terminated!

It may be more honest to say that governmental ministers have not seriously thought about the kind of society they would like now and in the future. However, most of those ministers have come from the upper and middle classes and have no direct experience of what constitutes the majority in societal terms. For any concrete change, ministers need that experience for true understanding instead of from afar, but that is only possible by changing the electoral system so that corporate society remains that and does not have any influence whatsoever on the electoral system and governments, and so that worthy candidates from the bottom up have the opportunity to do what is needed, and not what is wanted both short term and long term. There are examples around the world, few, but some, so it is not as if it is not impossible to make a better world for all once ethics has a heavy hand, for without ethics, there is only self interest! Once governments can distinguish between what is their responsibility, and what is collective/individual responsibility, then peace becomes more possible both on the domestic front, and the global front.

Sources:

Brown, M. and Lane, A. “These Cuts Aren’t Building a ‘Big Society’; They’re Tearing It Down”. http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2010/nov/05/welfare-cuts-spending-review

Helm, T and Asthana, A. “Unemployed Told: Do Four Weeks Unpaid Work or Lose Your Benefits”. http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2010/nov/07/unemployed-unpaid-work-lose-benefits  

Thomas, J. “Cost of Living in the U.K. Now Over £14,000”.http://www.knowyourmoney.co.uk/uk-living-costs-now-over-14000

Townsend, M. Return of Underground Rave Culture is Fuelled by the Recession and Facebook http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2010/nov/07/underground-rave-culture-recession-facebook

Related Topics:

Prosperity and Abundance Now!

Lies and the New Politics

The House of Three Rooms

To the Person Who Bought Princess Diana’s Dress

Taking Control of Your Family Home

Hard Times: Means Change With a Big Bang

G20 Reasons Why Your Fortune is Not Your Own!

The Echo of Life

Your Age Matters to Them

My Duty is to Save the World

Live to Work or Work to Live!

Anti-Austerity Protests Sweep Through Europe

Reliving the Art of Communication

Reliving the Art of Communication

By Hwaa Irfan

No matter how much the ordinary citizen tries to ignore the paranoid activities of governments, and get on with real life before death dawns, today one can bet there is at least one government that will definitely come up with a box of tricks that is guaranteed to reduce the populations desire to vote for them, or for any “political” party.

When the Serbian, Nikola Tesla first discovered radio-telecommunications, beyond reasonable doubt the only intention was to make communication easier for everyone. Well it seems to have gone full circle now, at least in the U.K.   

As the Big Brother first put to fame by T.V. serials in 1970s England becomes more of a governmental obsession,  U.K. “ministers” are planning to resurrect plans to record and archive every Internet click, email, and telephone call made by Joe public according to the British daily, The Daily Mail. The aim is to know every website one visits, when, to whom, and what has been said/written to anyone, anywhere!  We have already witnessed how information communicated via Facebook can turn the life of a member upside down and inside out, out of sheer innocence!

Disregarding the fact that the British citizen no longer has faith in its government believing it to be corrupt, and disregarding the fact that the actions of the British government past and present have led to their insecurity, the standard reason given as to why is to “fight terrorism”.

Bear in mind that recently the U.K., the U.S., and France agreed to sustain, and if not increase military spending, which has been the case despite apparent cuts throughout the global economic crisis. Military spending in real terms rose to $1.53mn in 2009, whereas there has only been an apparent 8% cut by  the British Conservative government for 2010, and a 25% cut for all other departments, with an Al-Qaeda threat which always seems to pop-up at the most appropriate times.

The most likely scenario is that Internet and telephone companies will be expected to register, and archive data. Well, there is a silver lining to every cloud!

  • When was the last time that one spent time with a friend or made new friends!
  • When was the last time one broke the routine of work-home-work!
  • When was the last time one was not dependent on the telephone and/or the Internet as a means of communication with the outside world.
  • When was the last time one expanded ones horizons?

It is probably this kind of lifestyle that has increased people’s insecurities of the unknown, with data from the U.K. (Citysocialising) demonstrating the increased sense of isolation/loneliness that people feel and is not compensated for through online social networking. Of course this high tech, living has not worked out with cyber crime becoming more predominant than physical crime.

When telephone became the means of communication, it allowed us to communicate beyond our physical walking capabilities. At the same time what is taking place when we communicate mainly by phone, and through the Internet is that communication moves towards an increasingly unreal state. Yes, it has become normal, and therefore one believes there is nothing wrong with it, but our relationship with the world is based on our five+ senses.  We lose the use of those five+ senses when we communicate mainly by phone and through the Internet.  For some this may seem like going back to the Dark Ages, but the witch-hunt is on, and prior to the commercialization of telecommunications, speaking was visual, i.e. one could see who one spoke with; when non-verbal communication makes up 55% of our communication that is extremely important.  Instead what we have now is a separation of sight and sound, and this warps our impressions, what we understand , and our reflexes. When we speak on the phone we are dependent on three factors, the voice = sound, previous experience, and the imagination. The imagination takes over when previous experience is speaking on the phone. This is diminished further when communication is through the Internet, because here we are left with a hyppereality that makes the imagination more real than reality!

So, fear not the advances of Big Brother, and seek instead to communicate face-to-face for maybe this is the silent revolution that can bring humanity closer together by forming more meaningful relationships,  and at the same time diminish the kind of relationships that are not healthy for one’s well-being, self development, and needed social change!

 Sources:

Burke, M. “Military Spending Protected in Tory Cuts”. http://socialisteconomicbulletin.blogspot.com/2010/10/military-spending-protected-in-tory.html

 Hinton, C. “Military Spending Rose to $1.52 Trillion in 2009”. http://www.marketwatch.com/story/military-spending-rose-to-153-trillion-in-2009-2010-06-18 

Slack, J. Big Brother Will Snoop on Your Calls and Clicks: Ministers Resurrect Plan to Log All Communications”. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1322071/Ministers-resurrect-Big-Brother-plan-log-communications.html

 Related Topics:

Discovering Your Emotional Intelligence

The Flowering Tree

One is the Loneliest Number

All Things Are Linked!

Taking Control of Your Family Home

The Gift of Sharing 

No Wonder Women Are Bored!

The Echo of Life

Avoiding the Silence!

The Importance of the Creative Principle in Life

The Charity of Love

Stepping Back to Afrika!

Letter to the Self # 18: Insecurities

Letter to the Self #22: Do You Have Trust Issues?

Rabbi Albert Lewis: Burning of Holy Texts Dishonors All Faiths

Rabbi Albert Lewis: Burning of Holy Texts Dishonors All Faiths

{Revile not ye those whom they call upon besides God, lest they out of spite revile God in their ignorance. Thus have we made alluring to each people their own doings. In the end they will return to their Lord } (An-Anam 6:  108)“I wish I could say my people never burned the holy books of others, but I would be wrong.

“There have been incidents when the extremists within Orthodox Judaism burned the New Testament after missionaries distributed a large number of them in an orthodox village in Israel. In this situation, the missionaries were wrong to foist their holy books on the orthodox Jews, and the orthodox Jews were wrong in burning the books. Both peoples showed a lack of respect for the other and undermined their own beliefs in the process.

“I am not aware of any passage in the Hebrew Bible, New Testament or Quran that supports the burning of anyone’s holy book. There are passages in the Hebrew Bible that talk about destroying the holy shrines of a conquered people, but that was considered timely only when the Israelites entered the land of Canaan. In today’s world, it would not be encouraged or tolerated. 

Read More>>>> Burning of Holy Texts Dishonors All Faiths

Related Topics:

Qur’an Burning on Hold and Conversions Increase

Muslim and Jews Side By Side in the Bronx

Mobilization Against Racism and Islamophobia

The Charity of Love

Letter to the Self # 16: Knowledge or Just Information?

Letter to the Self # 16: Knowledge or Just Information?
Ramadhan Day 15

By Jeewan Chanicka

The purpose of seeking knowledge is self-improvement and then action. Not knowledge for the sake of knowledge only.
If you are to truly attain your potential, it can only be done from a place of humility and literacy as opposed to arrogance and ignorance.

Dear Self,

We know so much, but sometimes I think we have only really learnt a little. It’s as if we learn things to satisfy our egos, that we are studying Islam and “know” more than we did before.

Yet, Self, what do we do with what we know? What have you done with what you learnt?

If you want to attain a higher level of being, you need to be more conscious of the One who put you on this earth and the only way to do so is to learn. We have heard time and time again that knowledge is the

    right

of a Muslim. That s/he should seek it wherever it takes them, even as far as China, but why is that? Why should we seek knowledge?
Today, we spend so much time trying to memorize the Qur’an- is that wrong? I don’t think so…but I often wonder if people spend time reflecting on the fact that the Sahabahs (Companions of Prophet Muhammed)didn’t spend time “memorizing” the Qur’an. In fact, their understanding of “memorization” was to commit some verses to memory and then act on them. When they became good at doing so, THEN they would memorize some more.

Additionally, in the Qur’an, the words, “ilm” and “amal” are always coupled- knowledge and action. It is because knowledge is supposed to lead to action.

So Self, the questions you really have to ask are- what do you know? How have you used each day to improve what you know? and what have you done with what you know?

You see, if you are to truly attain your potential, it can only be done from a place of humility and literacy as opposed to arrogance and ignorance.

During this month, please, try to find one thing each day that you can learn and use it to improve yourself and to be of benefit to those around you.

Love,
Me

Diary Series:
Letter to the Self # 15: Beyond the Limited Self
Letter to the Self # 14: A Better Way
Letter to the Self # 13: The Spoken Word
Letter to the Self # 12: A Blessing or a Curse?
Letter to the Self # 11: PurposeLetter to the Self #10: Let’s Partey
Letter to the Self #9: Looking Good
Letter to the Self #8: Worship
Letter to the Self #7: Rights of the Body
Letter to the Self#6: Time
Letter to the Self #5: Gratitude
Letter to the Self #4: Laziness
Letter to the Self #3: Arrogance
Letter to the Self #2: Ego
Shaban: Letters to the Self

Related Topics:
How Not to Master a Skill!
Finding the Real You!
Climbing the Mountain
The Law of Three: Concealment and Attraction
The Sieve