Monday, September 10, 2007

Human Suffering

'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 ...

Selamat Berpuasa.


  1. 'Bang,

    Pain and suffering is universal - like a precondition for life almost. Of course it varies too; some peoples are luckier than most.

    I just a read an article in the latest Time magazine, an excerpt from a biography on Mother Teresa. In it, she claims for most of her life, she never "felt" God. Sometimes she told her confessors that her life is sham because she only felt "darkness". The torment almost caused her to "murtad" many times - which went on for 50 years of her life or so. Goodness, so "The Saint" sufferred too; of the spirtual kind in this case while ministering to the poor and sick in the slums of Culcutta...

    It will be a few days to Ramadhan yet. Let's do some introspection and see how we can help to ease the suffering of others.

    Salaam and Selamat Berpuasa.

  2. I see Swampman has written his piece.

    Come Ramadan, I'll be doing my usual hibernation thingy.

    But please, Capt. I hope the PKFZ issue will remain boiling in the pot.

    Any further news on the story of CKC resigning? If it's true, UMNO will have a very hot potato on their hands. Dare we hope for more heads to roll?

  3. mat salo:

    Many thanks and not to worry. I am not going to go lie down and play dead yet.

  4. Captain...For the first time in my life, I'm not looking forward to listening what the budget presentation would be...deep down inside me, I told myself it's going to be another 'torture' for us the rakyat coming from the private sectors and those working on their own...the budget so far, has failed to lessen the 'suffering' of the least that's the impact I got...

    Tomorrow we'll embark on the most crucial day in Muslim lives...the Ramadhan's been awaited...for in this month, we are given a chance to be as close as possible to God, to be as good as possible to do good deeds as the most possible...

    Selamat menyambut Ramadhan Captain...Semoga ibadah puasa kita diterima dgn keberkatan dan menyuci hati dan nurani kita, amiiiinnn...

  5. Like you said Captain, its impossible to completely eradicate poverty. The same goes with suffering I guess.

    Selamat berpuasa, go easy on the ML - it is perhaps even time to try quitting it (like we can after all these years).

    Take care

  6. Captain.
    Have a blessed and joyous Ramadhan!

  7. radin galoh:

    My favorite ladies. thank you and selamat berpuasa to you too.

  8. Captain, I don't agree your take on Puasa and linking it to suffering and hunger. If that is so then my take is 50% of the world's muslim population no need to fast as they are suffering everyday anyway. They are poor and don't have enough to eat.
    To me fasting is an act of discipline and submission and it strengthens your faith to Islam.
    By the way Captain, in the NST today 14 Sept you see photos of two politicians linked to PKFZ and doing some Islamic act, a Quran charity and another stopping the publication of a book. As a Muslim reading the peice I puke. These people are hypocrites who used religion as a political tool to fit their purpose.The fact that you exposed PKFZ is to me "beribadat", an act of a good muslim.
    Selamat Berpuasa.


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