A Legacy of Beauty

Reminiscing about childhood is a popular pastime. Idyllic recollections of a life that never truly was is bolstered by time that is kind to us . It allows us to forget the harrowing details as we protect our fragile souls from the harsh reality of life. Those that treated us harshly often became a memory of those who cared, especially when their harshness was all we had access to. We become captives of the weakness of brutes because our submission is the only significance that they may feel in life. I sometimes wonder how many realise that their self-worth is based on their ability to subdue others.

Time creeps by, as time tends to, while I find the present moment to pale in comparison to my selective recollections of a childhood that never was. Moments of peace that were in fact moments of isolation, and collective laughter that was often exclusive by nature. I speak of this as if it’s my own, but the incomplete smiles around me suggest that it is a shared reality that is often denied.

As time morphs the pain into beauty it also morphs the beasts into angels. Those that manipulate the vulnerable suddenly appear as the downtrodden when their loss of control is lamented as a betrayal of love or affection. I sit with morbid amazement as I watch kids who are barely teens reminiscing about childhood and the wonderment that went with it as if it’s a long lost part of their lives, and I feel sad. The sadness deepens when I witness how their recollections embellish events to make it more wholesome or inclusive than it really was. The disease of the adults appears to have transcended a generation that used to be symbols of hope. Those symbols of hope are quickly becoming reminders of despair instead.

The torch bearers have handed over the soot but retained the flames that should have been passed on as generational wisdom to guide the next. The next appear comfortable to accept the association with the soot as a gift of love while not noticing it is the self-love of their captors and not the love of their captors for them. That distorted reality shapes a distorted world that they set out to change, not realising that their efforts to change it merely taint it.

I looked across the bathroom at the mirror from behind the shower door and suddenly realised how many would see the mirror as foggy while ignoring the steamed door in front of them. Those that are living an assumption of reality would seek to clean the mirror, while those that embrace reality will open the door.

We all need to believe that our contribution, even if not appreciated, is a wholesome one. When we are deliberately offensive or destructive, we convince ourselves that it is needed to restore balance. When it works out in our favour, we believe we were right, and when it doesn’t, we believe we were wronged. The selective views we nurtured through life in our efforts to establish our significance and self-worth betray us with such subtlety that it leaves us convinced that we’re the misunderstood or unappreciated while everyone else is self-indulgent and ungrateful of our efforts to uplift them. Accountability rarely features for the distracted ones because it erodes the fantasy that has become their reality.

Our collective subscription to such distraction leaves us sympathetic towards this feeble state in which we find them. If they weren’t echoing our own weaknesses so loudly, perhaps we would be able to see beyond their feigned sincerity and disrupt the fantasy just enough for reality to peep through. But that would rob us of our legacy of beauty that we have to believe is our contribution to this world. Without it, we become that which we despise, so we find kindred souls that are equally tainted so that we are secure in the fact that any effort on their part to expose our weakness will be rendered incredible simply because the kettle cannot call the teapot black. In there lies weakness in numbers.

[I set out challenging myself to write a post about something beautiful and uplifting. My alternate view of reality insists that I achieved it, because if anyone sees this as dark, they don’t appreciate my beauty that I offer so selflessly to the world. So the darkness must surely be in them and not in me.]

P.S. If you can understand this ramble, or worse, if you can relate to it, I question your sanity, and pray for your peace.

The Art of Insincerity

One of the most common observations that people share about me is that they know where they stand with me. I’m the one that usually speaks everyone else’s mind for them when they lack the courage to be bold. I don’t do this deliberately, I do it out of frustration. That frustration stems from the realisation that whining in private never changes what irks us in public.

Initially my inclination to speak out is based on a belief that those that are silent are in fact oppressed in some form or another. It’s a belief that drives me to be convinced that if given a shoulder to lean on, or a support structure from which to draw strength, people will inherently find more reason to be true to themselves, and in so doing, act with greater conviction in the face of obstacles, or oppression. Such idealism has never served me well.

The reality is closer to people wanting to be liked more than they care about fighting any good fight. Popularity is what drives us more than conviction. Perhaps this is why leaders are despised in the making, but revered in office. We judge harshly those that push for change when such change disrupts our own comfort zones, but feel no qualms about indulging in the benefits of the new realities created by the same people we once despised, often even proudly claiming affiliation with the struggle that brought about the much needed change.

Glory hunters. That’s all we are. To be associated with that which is perceived as popular or meritorious by those we idolise is what drives our conviction. Pride of association. It’s a powerful tool to influence the masses. But it comes at a price. The price we pay for it is the isolation we feel when we realise that we’re simply the pawns of the masses in the run up to the turning of the tide.

The art of insincerity is best displayed in that final phase of a tough project when all the naysayers suddenly rally around being fully supportive as if they were by your side all along, drooling with the anticipation of sharing in the glory of the achievement that everyone thought you insane to pursue in the first place. That’s when the ambivalence sets in because despite the obvious hypocrisy, you need them to appreciate the benefits of the endeavour, because without those very same consumers, the outcome will be redundant no matter how brilliant the solution.

This is true in both work and life. The fact that we still have good reason to differentiate between the two is sad, but that is a topic for another day’s ramblings. So it seems the art of insincerity is a reciprocal one. It’s one of the times when holding fast to higher principles will erode the value of the outcome. Sanity can only be salvaged through the adjustment of our expectations. If we expect sincerity, we’ll be distracted from our purpose. But that demands a reciprocation of insincerity, because if we don’t have an expectation of sincerity, then by default we accept that demanding less than what we would ideally want is in itself insincere relative to our convictions. In so doing, we too will master the art of insincerity that we so vehemently despise in others.

I guess the test of life might lie in being a better hypocrite than the next. I think we call that political correctness, no?

A rant…

And so it happened…again. My naivety led me down the garden path thinking that at some point principles and integrity will shed a glimmer of hope that not all corporates operate on the same basis. But like I said, my naivety once again got the better of me.

At moments like this I’m reminded of that proverb that says that there is no limit to what a man can do if he doesn’t care who gets the credit for it. I generally don’t care about the credit, but I do care about the paycheck, because a pat on the back or a flowery compliment doesn’t pay the bills.

I’ve been on both sides of this fence, and neither side has greener grass. Both sides have an equal amount of manure, and both sides have underhanded swines that will rather play political games to protect their fragile egos and to cloak their incompetence before they’ll do the right thing for the right reasons.

Being sincere and having integrity requires conviction. Look around you, whether in the corporate setting, or in a non-profit organisation, the ethical void is disgustingly obvious. Conviction only exists in self-preservation. Everything else takes a back seat for the 99% that are prone to declare themselves victims of someone else playing their marked card before they got a chance to play theirs first.

The human race disgusts me. That guy from Matrix got it right. We’re a virus. A disgusting virus that respects nothing but greed and self-indulgence, even in our arrogant piety we’re competing to prove that we’re more pious and more sincere than others, woefully inadequate in sincerity, and forever professing humility out of arrogance.

This rant was triggered by yet another blow to my rib cage that knocked the wind out of me. A blow that came from behind even though I knew it was coming for a long time now. But I’m a naive fool, that’s why I give the benefit of the doubt to others even if they bear all the hallmarks of the putrid souls I’ve had the misfortune of dealing with before. If I judge them prematurely, I’ll step firmly on that slippery slope that will lead me to the place of putrefaction that most of them dwell in. So for now, I’ll continue to allow others to screw me over before I take any action to protect myself or my interests. My idealism will be the end of me.

Some Muslims on Tumblr…Disappointing :'(

I’ve found, disappointingly so, that many of my fellow Muslim bloggers have turned out to be insincere and arrogant. Especially many of those that are outwardly and in-your-face religiously pious. I genuinely try to engage with many of them in a meaningful manner so that we can really dissect some important issues and perhaps expose a different perspective on things, but instead, the moment I go against the norm and question sacredly-held scholars, I’m dismissed or just totally ignored.

On the contrary, I’ve found that my engagements with non-Muslims are often more sincere since they would often extend themselves to really heartily debate an issue, and only after some interesting exchanges would we tend to agree to disagree, or arrive at a point of understanding. And this is on contentious issues like atheism versus theism, morality, homosexuality, premarital relationships, religion, politics and the like.

Unfortunately we lack maturity needed to engage meaningfully amongst Muslims, because every debate is hinged around a single focal point. i.e. You’re either in agreement with my scholar, or you’re a deviant. This is disheartening, because a few months ago I made a decision to try to engage more with Muslims on Tumblr, and instead of finding solace and familiarity, I found bickering and condescension.

Really sad state. 🙁