'Budget Day' has come and gone. The authorities would call it a 'painless budget' to reduce suffering for the rakyat. But then again, what is 'suffering'?
An old friend once asked how is it that one citizen of the USA seems to suffer more deprivation during a freak storm like the Katrina than a whole city of Indians in flood-hit Mumbai who have never had running hot water, or a steady supply of food? Some of the people in the newspapers and on TV seem not to be the poorest citizens who are usually the colour of the street - dressed in rags. Yet even these "well dressed" Indians seem to endure the mess they find themselves in without fists raised in slogan shouting. They do not take good health or safety for granted, and do not demand these things. The poorest don't even get a mention - no-one knows how they feel or what they think.
Or maybe this is just me romanticising Asia and Asians. There are many people in the US and Europe too, who must endure terrible pain and suffering.
I know it is necessary to try to get rid of as much suffering as possible, but also how to learn to deal with it without pointing fingers and blaming others. It is necessary to embrace suffering also... work through it, and learn its lessons.
Lebanese poet Khalil Gibran once wrote:
Your pain is the breaking of the shell
that encloses your understanding.
Even as the stone of the fruit must break,
that its heart may stand in the sun,
so must you know pain.
And could you keep your heart in wonder
at the daily miracles of your life,
your pain would not seem less wondrous than your joy ...
In a few days the fasting month starts. One of the terms of reference of the ibadah is to experience the hunger and suffering of the poor. So lets also take time to reflect on where we are, where we are going and whether we have the correct aptitude and moral courage for it. Some of us are now approaching an age where the little aches and pains manifest themselves, and as we become much more aware of the pain and sufferings in life, lets hope we will all be able to face it with courage and even wonder ...