Tag Archives: politics

“If you find your faith in your parents’ god, Don’t be so quick to point out the flaws in it”


I am embarrassed to admit that I have a celebrity crush, not of the Hollywood kind, but the kind that resides in the nooks and spaces of the academia world, and comes out every so often to express their opinion and subtly change the way in which we begin to understand the world.

My first encounter of Reza Aslan was purely by chance when one night scrolling through my Facebook newsfeed, someone on my network must have posted a video of him in a brief interview with CNN about his thoughts on some controversial comments Bill Maher’s had made on his talk show, Real Time concerning terrorism and Islam.

It was one those times when randomly clicking on videos didn’t prove to be a complete waste of time. Instead I was enamoured by his articulation of the topic discussed and really what caught my attention was mid way through that interview when asked “does Islam promotes violence?” and he answered simply that Islam is just a religion, and like every religion in the world, it depends on what you bring to it. If you’re a violent person, your Islam, your Judaism, your Christianity, your Hinduism is going to be violent.

I’m not one to dive much into politics too much because I am easily drawn into it emotionally and the effects of which doesn’t really serve the higher good of anybody. Once in a while, I peak out from my shell to see what is happening; social media channels would always find its way eventually to my attention. For most of the time, whatever thoughts or conclusions arising from these, I choose to hold them to myself. So then the rest of 2014 happened and I never really went back to it until recently after a series of discoveries that I eventually found myself on this particular road that necessitates my own investigations of my understandings and fundamental beliefs that I was born into and grew up with.

I think anyone who can fearlessly venture into the unknown for the sake of finding the truth, of whatever that may be, who explores into the depths of beliefs within specific religions or freely amongst esoteric ideas about the Universe, and then having the bravery to yet again question, search, and repeat the entire cycle until the heart rests in peace within the chosen belief is absolutely admirable.

I have longed believed it is of little importance whether one belongs to one religion or the other, or not at all. In fact, some of the most memorable conversations I had while in University was with my housemate, an atheist whose beliefs are strongly grounded in science and logic. I knew there is a clear distinction between religion and spirituality, that just because one claims to be the former does not mean they automatically become the latter, equally on the flip side, just because one claims to be ‘spiritual’ does not mean they need to identify themselves under a specific religious institution. It is also obviously quite possible to embody both at the same time too.

And then I found more of Reza’s past media interviews and transcripts saying things like “Religion is not faith. That it’s the language that a community of faith uses to communicate with each other, the ineffable experience of faith. It is the story of faith.” Instantly I’m thinking “Damn, I love this guy already!”

Certainly it helps to have a strong line of academic qualifications backing every bit of his opinions and views but more importantly though, the effort to make these views known to the rest of the world, to offer an alternative way of thinking about a subject that has grown to be so sensitive and controversial that freedom of speech on religion itself could either a) get you disowned by your own family b) punished by your own government or c) all of the above and maybe more (like death!) is timely and much needed.

I don’t know if there will ever come a day when there is no longer a ‘you’ and ‘me’, where John Lennon finally gets his wish after tirelessly imagining his ideal world and singing about it, most probably not. But I think between these upheaval of violence and horrific deaths there is space for hope and faith. In a separate interview he said, “But, what really gives me hope is individuals (…) which is the key to all of this is relationships” which then strikes out to be the exact same message that runs clear through Ramana Maharshi and Jiddu Krishnamurti works, great thinkers who have long left this world way before words like Hamas, ISIS and 9/11 ever meant anything to the people. Finding communion in differing beliefs and faith through acknowledging the values that we share, our struggles, our hopes and aspirations, are almost always the same – that is perhaps where much of my hope resides too lately.

If you find your faith in your parents’ god
Don’t be so quick to point out the flaws in it
You’ve been around and you’ve seen the way that things work
But you need a compass to get around your house
Benjamin Francis Leftwich (Pictures)


I did. I’ve done. I was here.


Beyonce performed “I was here” at the United Nations World Humanitarian Day, and let me tell you, this is one of those rare songs that gave me the chills AND made me tear at the same time. Click on the play button and you’ll see what I mean.

The song has since received 4 million hits, and it was put on Youtube a mere 10 days ago. It reminded me of the very simple fact that every one of us has the ability to create change, be the change and contribute towards a better world. Even in the smallest gesture.

But more importantly, and oddly enough, this song brought forth all the things that I forgotten from my early 20s. The desperate wanting of achieving something important, doing something remarkable and meaningful, and the yearning to have a direct association with the United Nations as my employer. Yes, almost everybody who is involved in the international development and non-profit work knows the breadth of influence United Nations has these days is questionable. Gone were the days when Kofi Annan would deliver a convincing speech, and developed nations would willingly join forces towards peace. Heck, even Kofi Annan can’t seem to stop the Syrian conflict these days. Ask the general bystander if they know who Ban Ki Moon might be, and a blank look will follow suit.

Still, you cannot deny the awesome feeling that entails (or maybe it’s just me, nevermind, let’s just pretend you know that awesome feeling I’m talking about) when you answer that all too familiar small talk question – “Where do you work?” or “What do you do for a living?” with “I’m a programme officer for [insert any one of the UN bodies here]”

I remembered a time when my attempts to get one foot into the UN door kept failing. And a heart-to-heart conversation with one of my mentors made me realise that getting into the UN was the ultimate for me. Sure it was a goal, but it should never be viewed as a Point B, the be all and end all of everything else. So what if you are not in United Nations, or you don’t work in the office that manage Global Fund and Bono is on your speed dial? That does not mean you can’t make the life of a single mother in your town happy by dropping in for a chat, or the child esteem a little better by helping him/her with their homework.

S, my lovely boss and mentor who cried and sobbed through her farewell speech for me when I left 2 years ago once told me “It is how you feel about yourself on your deathbed that matters. Before you leave this world, you want to feel like you have given your everything to have a life that you are proud of leaving behind”

I was here,
I lived, I loved
I was here,
I did, I’ve done everything that I wanted

Nevermind that you have had heart breaks, disappointment, and a lot of people saying “No” to you. You might not be helping to provide clean sanitary drinking water to the children in India today, but that does not mean that you will not ever do so in this lifetime.  Nevermind the tears and the frustration that sometimes follow a burning ambition that is not quite met. It does not mean that it will never be met. The very fact that you are here today, right here, right now, allows you the power to do something about it. To do everything that you have ever wanted, and to do it with all your heart.


Freedom is…


Amnesty International turned 50 recently and as part of this celebration, 50 artistes collaborated to produce “A Toast To Freedom”. Even Ewan McGregor was part of this effort, although I was watching intently while the video was playing and wondering at which part exactly he sang his solo.

This song got me thinking. What is freedom? Does it simply mean to roam the world as you wish, and be as you wish? Or is it something more complex beyond that?

Politics is one subject that I try to avoid as best as I can when it comes to this blog. Mostly because I do not know enough to provide an educated opinion on it, and it would not be fair to portray an opinion based on half-baked facts. Last weekend however, saw the gathering of thousands of Malaysian in Kuala Lumpur to stage a peaceful rally demanding a clean, and fair elections.

What began as a peaceful showcase of a group of people trying to get their message across, escalated into a mass violence.

Freedom comes in many forms and shapes, and surely demanding a clean and fair election through a peaceful rally would qualify as one. But at what price does one have to pay in order to obtain it?

So what does freedom mean to you?