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Learning to accept life’s burdens

September 15, 2013

THERE are times when everybody feels life is too burdensome. This has been particularly true for us Pakistanis for the last many years. We are often unable to comprehend why these difficulties befall us.

German writer Schiller loved to tell children this inspiring story:

“ Once upon a time, the birds had no wings. They crawled about on earth. Then one day God threw wings at their feet and commanded them to pick up the wings and carry them on their backs. At first, it seemed very difficult and the little creatures didn’t want to carry those heavy, unwieldy things. But (they then decided to give it a try), picked up the wings and carried them on their backs.

“And, lo!, the wings fastened there! What they once had thought was a hampering weight and a burden, enabled them to fly!”

It is one of the great lessons of life that the burdens we carry by necessity or by choice -- instead of weighting us down -- actually can lift us up.

To give an example, when in 2007, dictator Musharraf committed the unbelievable and unprecedented act of firing around 60 judges of the superior judiciary, the great majority of us were utterly shocked and dejected. And, at first, there seemed no hope of reversing this monstrous attack on freedom, justice and rule of law. However, the affected judges stuck to their guns and were actively backed by the lawyers, journalists, civil society and many political activists. After an arduous and momentous struggle and with the COAS’s help, it finally became possible to undo the tragic wrong, get the judges restored and, finally, send the dictator packing, despite the enormous backing he had from the supposed kingmakers of this world.

Apart from that, if we reflect deeply on the events since 2007, we will discover that many politicians, political parties and foreign countries got exposed as to their real intentions and selfishness. Furthermore, this dictatorial measure united most of us and showed us that anything could be achieved by a joint and relentless effort.

Similarly, after the flogging incident of a girl in Swat, the nation again got united, which allowed the army to push back the extremists and militants. Some contemplation will show that the curse of religious extremism and terrorism can be defeated by first acquiring a good understanding of what Islam really teaches.

Special focus should be placed on the Quranic and Prophet’s (peace be upon him) own teachings about love, kindness, compassion, forgiveness, duties to others, human rights, etc. Following that, we will be able to successfully challenge the narrative of the extremists and convince them into joining us.

Clearly, what we make of life is up to us to a large extent. Also, our answers lie within us. All we need to do is to look, listen, trust and then act. If we learn to deal with life in this manner, then, instead of being overwhelmed by the burdens of life, we will overwhelm them!