Killing the Self, our Ego!

imageEgo is a killer. Over a lifetime I have learned that if there is one certainty of attracting Allah’s anger, it is through arrogance, pride and ego. Unfortunately, during the coarse of a lifetime all of us get this rather dubious opportunity. Our test is to navigate our behaviour in conditions, which invite such ego.

Consider a situation where young managers enter the world of commerce and trade. They are fresh from education and invariably work for older and more experienced people. These young managers are generally modest people with great listening ability; they learn the traits of practical management and workout how to function in the corporate world. Over time they too become experienced and adept at it. And so starts their trial. They will soon begin fighting the ego game. They are now ‘somebody’ and if they do not watch themselves, they will behave as if they have consequence.

My personal feeling is that, if and when they fall at the gates of arrogance, they will wipe out all vestiges of goodness in themselves. Its not that those good characteristics are not there, but our ego now subdues them, dominates them and any deed done then is evaluated on the alter of ego. As the days go by and life passes, that ego dominates more and more and Allah’s punishment has already arrived. The person has become a twisted, egotistical animal, listening to none, looking at life only through his/her filters and and unable to achieve anything of goodness. But there will be a further revenge, in that down the road, the very reason to be egotistical will get taken away from the person and he or she will suffer the pangs of failure. Our time always ends. So whether by old age/death or by failure or both, our downfall will come.

We have seen this in the house of the arrogant. Napolean, Hitler, the original Jews, Xerxes, the Romans, the Ummayids and all great nations who rise through merit but turn to arrogance, which eventually leads to their failure in the world – In my consideration it is happening right now with the USA. This is a terrible signal event. To reach the top and then fall down into an abyss called ‘nothing’ is a tragedy and a travesty. Its destructive.

It happens in our houses too. We are almost all involved in it. One spouse dominates the other and mostly it is the ego of one conquering the other. Similarly, we dominate our children. Many a times a man is shaping his children into the picture of himself. But to do that is itself arrogant. We are shaping Allahs beautiful creatures (our children), when we do not have a right to do this. Its our duty to impart knowledge and tarbiat. There is no requirement to shape them. That is also arrogance. You think you are worth cloning. So the people closest to you in life, you clone to satisfy your ego.

How does one fight this insidious creep which can happen to one and all in this life. Its by watching and being aware of oneself. This bears watching every living day of your life. You must fight it. When you wake up in the morning, remind yourself you are human and have to deal with other similar humans. We are all the same, regardless of position, wealth, age and gender. If we believe that and keep reminding ourselves, then the day may pass without arrogance or ego. Similarly at night, when you are about to sleep remind yourself..that as you go to sleep, you may never wake up again. That is enough of a thought to make yourself free of ego and arrogance, till the next reminder in the morning. Disregard this need to control your self importance and you will very likely fall into the trap and become arrogant. It is inbuilt in us!

Remember, we are all here because one Iblis thought he was greater than others. Iblis in turn uses this as his favourite weapon. As Al Pacino said “Vanity is my favourite sin”.

Democracy..I do wonder about niggles

DemocracyIn the days post the elections in Pakistan, I wondered (like many) about the whole electoral process. This naturally raised question on the system of democracy itself and the pain one goes through to see it perform even at the present sub-optimal level.  Its not to say that we should get rid of democracy and experiment again; sixty plus years of that is enough. No! At the moment there is nothing which can viably replace a mass selection system – democracy. But, I honestly wish there was something better for mankind, which would take us to a higher level of humanity. Atleast, away from all this killing and infliction of pain on innocents.

So to my gripe. Allow me that indulgence. Below are some of the thoughts which make me wonder. 

 

My first niggle. We can vote for evil people – Hitler!- and it is my right to vote for this type in a democracy..where is the play of conscience? For those not aware, Hitler actually came to rule via the ballot box. There was much evidence that the man was evil or mad, but the Germany of 1933 wanted a strongman and got one. Much to the detriment of themselves and the world. They learnt 65 million deaths later.

 

People who are standing for elections, generally desire to be elected. This has huge psychological implications. Now they have a vested interest and are on the slippery slope of corruption. There is substantial research which backs this theory; desire for power itself is a form of corruption. So at least we should be allowed to view a psychosomatic profile of the candidates.

 

A criminal has the same authority as an upstanding member of society. Where is the justice in that?  So a criminal (convicted) can vote and displace people, as much as you an upstanding person can. It is possible that such a person will vote for one of their own ilk. Our natural sense of right agonizes at such an eventuality.

 

The inefficiency of the system…if I make tall promises and people vote for me, it will take years before I will be called to account. Years of corruption and inefficiency…damage may be huge, voters learning from previous mistakes can take generations. Education, common sense and wisdom become an imperative among voters. Hence education in democracies is so important, which alas we do not have.

 

Elections are an advertising game. As consumer companies use advertising to sell goods we do not need, so the candidate persuades you to vote for him/her, maybe on platforms which do not affect you at all. The science exists. Its all been refined and a good marketeer will get inside your brain and convince you, without you even realizing it.

 

Big money is a necessary game in democracies. Advertising requires lots of money, as does electoral visibility. This includes ground activation to be in touch with your electorate. A huge amount has to be spent on research to understand the electorate itself. And then the logistic costs of moving people on the day of the election is massive. Top it all, to manage all the above, a large organization is required, which requires funds. A good democratic choice cannot be put on the ballot paper, without large funding. Obama spent over $1bn to run his campaign in 2012. So then is this open to all and sundry?!

 

Then the awful nexus with capitalism. Democracy tends to be at its workable best, if it is a capitalistic society. This allows the rich to get richer and its not necessary that the poor prosper – however the middle class tends to improve marginally. In the US the divide has sharply increased and the top 1% wealthy have increased dramatically since 1980, while the poor and homeless numbers have skyrocketed.

 

Lastly close to us, the rigging..but a lot happens in many places. Whether it is by force, threats, systemic or fragmented, it happens. Last elections in Kenya resulted in genocide. In 2000, the US Presidential elections were hijacked. Against the actual voting numbers, which went to Al Gore…the other candidate Bush won. Talk to Karachites, Lahorites, or Abrar in PTI. The evil taste left after these events, makes one wonder. My own sense is that something which is achieved by subterfuge, will not be of benefit to anyone.

 ” Our little systems have their day;

They have their day and cease to be:

They are but broken lights of thee,

And thou, O Lord, art more than they.”

Tennyson 

My fervent wish is that we are able to refine this choice and selection process to the level, where we can say with pleasure, that democracy is really democracy. Inshallah. We need some form of harmony in this country.

* The democracy picture is taken from Wylio.com, a free picture site, and is owned by Dominic Alves.

An Alternative Reality?

It all started when Bismarck was sent some quality English ice cream by Queen Victoria. Apparently she used to love the man, but because of Prince Albert they never prospered. Bad storage facilities meant the ice cream was not quite the thing, when it arrived. But Bismarck suffered from a sweet tooth and was greedy to boot, so he ate it regardless. Things really got bad after that. I will not even relate how bad.
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The Kaiser Wilhelm seeing the state of his Chancellor demanded an apology from Queen Vic. This was not forthcoming and war was declared. The French being the route of the ice cream to Germany were also dragged into the net. In the meantime, the Russian Nicholas secretly admired a spritely ballerina in London, so he declared on behalf of the English. Lastly, the Pasha of Turkey disliked ice cream and came on the side of Germany, even banning the item in Ottoman territory.
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WW1 went against English expectations and they lost. They would have been fine, but the American President Wilson fell for the Kaisers niece (to ensure supply lines of sugar and gum from Africa) and joined the war on the German side.  Wilson obviously had expansive designs. The Germans and allies ruled for the next 20 years and the Americans took over India, hence the plethora of American culture today.
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In these 20 years things were not good for the British. They had lost their empire and were hurting. The Communist Party now ruled Britain, their values centred on the elimination of ice cream, as the root cause of problems. The Russians naturally felt that ballet was the source of problems, decided to ban it. Due to this Nicholas was ostracized and removed and the Russians kept their pro art policy. While the Pasha went into decline when despite his orders, ice cream flourished in his country.
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Meantime Germany struck a deal with Japan to create a colony in the Middle East for them, to increase supply of gum and sugar. However along the line, they transferred their Jews to this colony instead, because they were consuming too much ice cream in Germany, depriving others from the item. This mass migration made Japan mad and they decided to attack the interests of the German ally America. The Americans were annoyed at the role played by the Germans in this and so the 20 year alliance came to end and the WW2 began.
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The Americans now distrusted ice cream and decided to sponsor chewing gum and candy. They ordered that the manufacturing facilities should be given to all future allies. The Russians, British and French sensing a financial opportunity, joined the Americans. Specifically Churchill, a strong communist, was ready to expand facilities of gum in Britain to help the American effort. Eventually, the war was won, when the Americans dropped huge combustible gum over Nagasaki and Hiroshima. The Japs could not take the sweet, sticky exploding stuff and surrendered. Germans ruled by the artist Hitler, were distraught at this betrayal and surrendered. Hitler committed suicide, as he saw a future bereft of art.
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In the Middle-East, the Jews sensing that the American sweet tooth will prevail declared that candy was the next best thing and supported America. The Palestinians being less worldly declared for dates and olives, for which there was no American support. Meanwhile the Russians feeling that art had been betrayed with the defeat of Germany went into cold war with America. In India, two parties emerged. One declared for American candy, while the rebels had a penchant for meat and took independence as Pakistan.  Lastly the Americans set up support within the Arab world, which would guard their supply lines, provide useful raw material for the candy and also be a good market for their gum and candy.
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Over the decades this game of consumerism is being played out. The American candy has generally prevailed, with West Europe, Israel and Japan exploiting the opportunity. Latest entrants China and India watched with interest for decades, as the WW2 allies weakened, and then used the same consumer demand for their benefit. The Arabs have remained as support for the western effort and provided them with supplies. While Russia, which supported the artistic side, has not progressed as much, Pakistan which loved meat has had a really rough time and the poor Palestinians with dates and olives are de-franchised.
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In my alternative reality, ice cream is basic raw materials, sugar and candy are consumer goods, meat is ideology, art is a totalitarian system and olives and dates are basic rights.

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