Category Archives: Thoughts

FOOD FOR THOUGHT: PIETY

There is a famous story told in Chassidic literature that addresses this very question. The Master teaches the student that God created everything in the world to be appreciated, since everything is here to teach us a lesson.

One clever student asks “What lesson can we learn from atheists? Why did God create them?”

The Master responds “God created atheists to teach us the most important lesson of them all — the lesson of true compassion. You see, when an atheist performs and act of charity, visits someone who is sick, helps someone in need, and cares for the world, he is not doing so because of some religious teaching. He does not believe that god commanded him to perform this act. In fact, he does not believe in God at all, so his acts are based on an inner sense of morality. And look at the kindness he can bestow upon others simply because he feels it to be right.”

“This means,” the Master continued “that when someone reaches out to you for help, you should never say ‘I pray that God will help you.’ Instead for the moment, you should become an atheist, imagine that there is no God who can help, and say ‘I will help you.’”

ETA source: Tales of Hasidim Vol. 2 by Mar

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A PARADOX?

Hypocrisy is not a virtue. It never was and should never be regarded as one.

Nonetheless, the world is plagued with hypocrites. We have leaders who put on façades and do the very things they promised never to do; followers who act self-righteous and point fingers while their hands are caked in dirt; cops who break oaths as they shoot innocents dead; and spouses who let greed and selfishness do them apart instead of death. Hypocrisy severs the trust that bonds the human race and shatters the integrity that makes us what we are – human.

But what if hypocrisy is the flicker of hope humanity needs? What if our hypocrisy is a way of reassuring ourselves that we have the potential to actually be the persona – the better version of ourselves – that we portray ourselves to be?

FEMINISM : EQUALITY

People sometimes ask me if I’m a feminist. I always respond with a resounding yes. And when I do, some look at me with gleeful eyes, while some have seemingly mixed emotions blanketed on their faces.

I am proud to call myself a feminist. I do not recall a specific moment when I decided that I should become one because “feminist” is not a label I decided to give myself overnight. Feminism is not a bandwagon I jumped on. For me, it started off as a nameless mindset that was cultivated since childhood as I grew up hearing of the atrocities happening to what the world calls “the weaker sex” – women. Domestic violence, rape, genital mutilation, and honor killings are just some of the many heinous acts women have been forced to face throughout history. So my feminist identity comes from my belief that all women deserve to enjoy the same rights and freedom as I do for they are in no way lesser than I am.

But I do understand why some, especially men, frown upon hearing the word. They think feminists (or “feminazis”) are man-haters who are on a mission to overtake men and, as Beyoncé puts it, run the world. After all, feminism is not a tightly-defined term and is therefore open to interpretation. As a result, there are different types of feminists who advocate for different causes (which even other feminists may not necessarily agree with). And there are quite a number of them who believe the movement is solely about empowering women and go as far as rejecting the roles of men in the society. Although I admire their determination to improve the lives of women, I refuse to stand with them.

The word “feminism” itself sounds very gynocentric, but I believe the aim of the emphasis is to empower women so as to allow them to reach the heights of men and in doing so, create a state of equilibrium in the society where men and women are equals. In other words, feminism supports neither misandry, nor matriarchy. It is gender equality that has been the movement’s primary motive since the beginning, and that is the way it should be.

Feminism is just another word for equality.

GREED AND INGRATITUDE

It’s human nature to want things we don’t have. It’s also human nature to overlook and take for granted the things we already have. Are we to blame for our greed and ingratitude? Maybe. Maybe not. Maybe we are just hardwired into being this way. Or maybe we are simply too self-centered and unwilling to accept the truth. Either way, we are all hungry creatures who can never be fully sated. You see, greed can bring us to places. The quality of never being fully satisfied with where we are and what we have allows us to push our limits and climb further up the ladder. It challenges us, and lets us challenge ourselves. And if we get knocked down, it gives us the strength to get back up. And eventually, one day, it will bring us to the place we most want to be.

However, greed can be overwhelming. The need to be the best we can be, the need to be on top, and the need to be better than everyone else can take a terrifying turn. Sometimes this drive can overpower us and get us to do whatever it takes to be where we want to be. We could end up sacrificing our values and morals all because of greed. We could take the wrong paths, make the wrong decisions, trust the wrong people, and stab those who trust us. We could lose everything that we once held dear. We could lose ourselves. And when we reach the top, there might be no one by our sides. And then it might hit us – that whatever we have gained is worth nothing compared to everything we have lost. And it just might be too late.