Lets agree to disagree but with due respect to each other!

Lets agree to disagree, but with due respect to each other!

In the times we are living in, discussions and arguments have mostly gone online. The debates which once were a part of the drawing-room culture have become an integral part of the electronic, print and social media. The options for people to comment online on news, blogs, posts and write-ups etc, have opened up new opportunities for the readers. There were times when after reading something of importance or interest in the newspaper or a magazine, I would discuss it with the people around me. We would talk about the issue, argue, agree or disagree, but never in a manner where the other person would feel that his opinion has been brushed aside, or he is being demeaned for his views. Maybe being polite in a face to face discussions was not only an important requirement of a debate it was considered an essential part of good upbringing, and no one wanted to seem rude or disrespectful to each other.

But the huge swing of technology and the easy access to it, has changed people’s attitudes and also the way they discuss issues these days! As a regular visitor to the blogs of reputable publications, I have noticed how ugly a discussion can become. It may be about politics, religion, a social issue or even a game! Most people with differing opinions mock, insult and in extreme cases verbally abuse those who have a different way of seeing things. This I-will-punch-you–in-the-face-if-you-dare-to- disagree-with-me approach is on the rise by the day.

disagree

People make an argument an ego matter, and win they must, either by hook or by crook! Instead of making it a means to a better understanding of a controversial issue, and trying to see things from the other one’s point of view, they prefer to belittle or mock those who do not agree with their way of perceiving an issue. The use of profane words is on the rise and some people really think it is “cool” to use these words in their comments. The words which once no gentleman even dreamt of using in public, have become so common that even our children are using them! While reading comments I often come across words like absurd, shit, nonsense, unintelligent, ridiculous, repressive, trash (just to mention the softer ones) etc. Some call the other’s views silly, illogical and appalling! All barriers of civility are broken and we seem to forget that there are always two faces of a coin.  

It is perfectly okay to disagree, because it is our basic right to have our own opinion on different matters. But the point we often overlook is that each and every individual has a different view, which depends on his/her social and cultural background, religious beliefs and the moral values which run in a family! And education, though last mentioned, should be the on the top of this list.

Why is this new approach getting so common? What are we teaching our young generation? Have we becoming more egoistic by the day and feel it is our right to thrust down our opinion down our opponents’ throat, least caring that we may even choke them with our efforts? Why is our society becoming so brutally intolerant, with a total disregard for a difference in opinion? Where will this frame of mind lead us too? Why are all barriers of civility broken when we do not see eye to eye with someone?

lets agree

All these are disturbing questions that I ask myself! There is already too much hatred and dissent in our world. Instead of being judgmental, raising accusing fingers and resorting to mudslinging, let’s try to create a more tolerant world through discussions and trying to understand differing views. Or else, we should be prepared to hand down a legacy of hatred and contempt to our younger generation.

In Pakistan, the illiterate have no access to newspapers, magazines or the social media. The less affluent, even if they have a formal education, are too busy trying to make the ends meet to spare time reading and commenting on posts and write ups.  So only the educated middle and upper class are among those who take interest and can take out time to participate in these virtual discussions. Education brings with it tolerance; a respect for the views of someone who sees things from another angle or perspective. And keeping in mind the class who has an access to the social and print media, I think it should try to be more open-minded and flexible. Instead of making our comments sound like a slap on the face, we can make them polite and respectful. Mocking, insulting or ridiculing someone who does not see eye to eye with us, only proves that we are educated illiterates!

Let’s agree to disagree, but with due respect to each other’s opinion. Proving yourself right and the opponent wrong should not be important, a debate should be a means to hone the mind and bring a broader perspective to one’s outlook on controversial issues!

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THE MAGIC WORDS! (http://www.dawn.com/news/1097511/the-magic-words)

The Magic Words!

       You come rushing into the kitchen where Mummy is busy preparing dinner and announce, “I am feeling hungry and want something to eat!” Mummy gives you a tired look but still she quickly fixes a sandwich for you and serves it to you with a glass of milk. You devour your snack in front of the television and declaring “I am going to do my home-work”, head to your room, leaving behind your empty plate and glass on the lounge table.

          Now look at the same situation with a better approach. You walk into the kitchen and quietly watch Mummy as she seems busy. Then you say politely, “I am sorry to disturb you Mummy, but I am feeling hungry. Please can I have a snack?” After finishing what your mother has served you, you take your plate to the kitchen sink (or better still, wash it), walk up to your mother and with a hug say, “Thank you Mummy, the sandwich was delicious”.

          Which of the above two scenarios would make your mother feel more appreciated and happy? Children we know that it is the duty of our parents to fulfill our needs, may they be small or big. Our parents are always out there to cater to our requirements. They strive hard keep us happy, comfortable and content but they also expect a polite and grateful attitude from us in return. At times, however unintentionally, we fail to acknowledge their efforts. Our attitude when we want something can either make them happy or frustrate them! We must understand that there is a very thin line between a demand and a request, but often we fail to feel the difference.

          A father of three says, “I do not like being taken for granted by my children, although I know very well that of all people in the world, they will turn to me for their requirements. Instead of starting a sentence with ‘I want’, I feel much better if they say ‘Please’ and ‘Thank you’ after I have catered to their need”.

          When we say please, it shows respect and consideration for our parents’ thoughts and feelings. When we say thank you, it shows appreciation, respect, and love. It shows them that we really do care about the way they toil to help us. This rule also to applies to the other relations we are in, for example our siblings, teachers, peers and relatives.

          Often in school, we need help from a friend or class fellow. We may need to borrow a book which we forgot to keep in our bag, or require something as trivial as a pencil, eraser or a sharpener which we have misplaced. Sometimes a friend is better on a subject in which we are lagging behind and we want him to explain it to us in a free period.

          These favours may seem small to us if we comfortably take them for granted and do not consider it important to say please before asking for something and thank you after our need is met. But friends if this attitude persists, hard feelings set in, because it is a part of human nature that we want to be appreciated for any kind or helpful act we perform.

          Another magic word which most of us find hard to say is “Sorry”. Suppose somebody pushes you as you are descending the stairs after school is over. In trying to balance yourself, you bump into a friend just ahead of you and he falls. You may either mumble something like “It was not my fault” and move on, or you may stop and say “I am so sorry, but someone pushed me and I lost my balance”. You pull your friend back to his feet and help him gather his bag, water bottle and lunch box. Which approach do you think is correct and will make your friend feel better?

          Saying sorry for something we have done wrong, whether intentionally or unintentionally, may be a bit hard on our ego as admitting a mistake is often difficult. But once we realize how important it is to apologize in a required situation and how far it goes in strengthening a relationship, it will be effortless to swallow our pride and the word will come easily to us.

          Friends we must understand that all relations are based on give and take! Children are usually on the receiving end, but by showing their gratitude when their requirements are met, asking for something in a polite manner and apologizing when they have done something wrong or have hurt someone, is their way of paying back the efforts of their elders.

       Sorry, please and thank you are often called words that work like magic! They make a person feel important, pacify tempers, strengthen bonds and at times mend strained relationships. Only a thoughtful, polite and grateful person uses them often. As human beings, we all want to feel appreciated, loved and respected. By treating the people around us in a proper manner, we show them the courtesy and respect they expect from us. In addition to this, these magic words also make us feel better about ourselves. It may be during inter-acting with our parents, siblings, teachers or our peers, but it is a part of good manners to say please, thank you and sorry when required.

 

ENDEAR YOURSELVES!

Attitude: Endear yourself!

By Yasmin Elahi
April 3rd, 2010 

All of us want to be popular among our peers, relatives, teachers and all the people around us. But often we see that some children are more popular than others. Friends and relatives are attracted to them, teachers have a soft corner for them and peers respect them (however grudgingly). 

Have you ever tried to find out what qualities endear these children to everyone? It is their good manners, their etiquette or behaviour and consideration for the feelings of others which gives them this popularity. Here are some important ways to win the hearts of friends and relatives.

Always remember to say `Please` and `Thank you`. When you are asking for something, if you say please, even if it is a small favour, it appears that you are making a request rather than a demand. In the same way, when you receive a gift, when someone gives you a compliment or even when someone steps aside to let you pass, saying thanks is an important rule of good manners. It shows that you are grateful for the gift, compliment and consideration, and you appreciate the person who has given it to you. It also shows courtesy on your behalf. 

Never forget to say `Sorry`. Although some children may find saying `sorry` quite difficult, it is a basic aspect of good manners and a quality which will quickly endear you to everyone. If you have hurt someone (physically or emotionally), forgot to fulfil a promise, or misbehaved with an elder, `sorry` is the magic word which wipes out all ill feelings. 

When you are in a public place, it may be a doctor`s waiting room, a supermarket or a restaurant, show your respect for your elders by opening doors for them and offering them your seat if there is no place for them to sit. Most of us are too busy in our lives to pay attention to old people and we seem to forget that they often feel lonely. A kind word to them, enquiring about their health (or any other problem) and even listening to them attentively would brighten up their day and will go a far way in winning their hearts.

Never let a discussion turn into a quarrel. We all have different opinions on every matter and the rule to remember is that everyone has a right to his/her own opinion. Often we see an argument turn into a heated debate. Wait for your turn when you are having a discussion and do not try to raise your voice over others to get your point through. It is healthy to argue with friends and peers but the discussion should be polite and informative. Do not forget that difference in views is sometimes due to the diversity of race, traditions or religion. Show your respect to the other one`s views even if you do not agree with him/her.

An important rule of good manners is never to interrupt someone when he/she is speaking. A patient listener is more liked than an ardent speaker. Especially when someone older than you is talking to you, listen attentively and answer politely. Be courteous to your elders and treat them with respect. Even if you are irritated, never speak rudely to anyone. Remember that a smiling face is more popular than one with a frown.

Always be ready to help. You may be better at some subjects in school, so helping out your class fellows if they are having difficulties, would make you a well liked peer. Whenever it is possible, offer a helping hand to your elders. Carrying a load for someone in a supermarket, helping an old person to cross the road, or lending a helping hand to your mother in house hold chores, are gestures which show that you care and would definitely endear you to their hearts.

Be a good sport. Some children tend to turn nasty if they lose a game. Remember that there always has to be a winner and a loser in a game. If you win, do not boast or degrade your opponent. And if you lose, do not sulk; accept your defeat graciously and congratulate your opponent open heartedly. The time you spent enjoying the game should be more important than the fact that you won or lost it. 
Good manners, consideration for the people around us and proper etiquette of behaviour indicate a good upbringing and are a mark of a respectable social background. So mind your manners and happily watch the graph of your popularity rise!

The list of do’s and dont’s is never ending, but the above mentioned are only a few tips to guide you how to endear yourself to the people around you. Good luck!

 

IF I LOVE ALLAH….!

 

                I am in the middle of an important discussion, attending a wedding reception, watching an interesting talk show (or play) on the TV, enjoying a long drive or just hanging out with friends laughing and joking, when my cell starts to beeps!

                “We have started to recite Kalma (or Durood or Ayat e Kareema) 100,000 times. Please recite ten times and forward to all your contacts. Do not break the chain, as we must finish this today!”       My reply usually is, “This is not the proper way to recite a Wazeefa! We should recite with full concentration and fervour and also in a proper atmosphere”!

                   Every day I receive a number of forwarded text messages about Hadith of our Holy Prophet, Quranic Ayats or an incident from Islamic History! And in the end the sender has the cheek to write….. is msg ko itna phelaao jitna tum Allah ya Nabi SAW se mohabbat karte ho! (Spread this message as much as you love Allah and the Prophet PBUH.) Or it would taunt, “I know that 99% people will not forward this message, if you are a true Muslim, be among the 1% who will forward it! And this one is usually the most annoying, “Allah will ignore those people on the Day of Judgement, who ignore Him in this world!”

          What sort of emotional blackmailing is this? I feel irritated.

          In answer to most messages, I usually hit Delete or if it is from a close friend, I reply, “Sorry, I won’t forward this! Because I feel that this is no criteria to prove my love for Allah or the Prophet PBUH”. And if it is a Hadith or an incident from the history of Islam, I demand “Are you sure this is authentic, if so please let me know the source”.

          The huge strides in communication technology have changed our lives completely and deprived us to some extent of our privacy! Today we text more than we talk, use our cell phones (Whatssapp, VChat etc) and social medias like Face book and Twitters more than we interact with people, even if some of them live within our walking distance. But although this has made life easier (or should I say lazier) there are many irritants to these luxuries also. Unwanted messages at the wrong time, posts on Face book by contacts who keep on insisting (in the name of love for Allah) that I forward whatever they are sending in, always frustrate me!

          Why should I prove my love for Allah and His Prophet PBUH by forwarding messages about Quran and Hadith, which I am not even sure are reliable? Is this the criteria to prove that I am a good Muslim? In my opinion this is definitely not so!

          I ignore the call of the Muazzin when he is calling for Salaat, I do not help the needy, pay Zakaat or perform Hajj although I am filthy rich; I lie and cheat, disobey my parents, I am rude to the elderly and unkind to children, forget about a promise a few minutes after I have made it, but because I forward these (unauthentic) messages, I can safely presume that I have booked my place in Paradise!

          Sigh! If only the path to Jannah was only about hitting a forward key or sharing a post on Facebook! But alas, it is not!

          If I practice the teachings of Islam, fear Allah, follows the teachings of the Holy Quran and the Prophet Muhammad PBUH, strictly try to adhere with the compulsory acts every Muslim has to practice, (i.e Eemaan, Namaaz, Roza, Zakaat and Hajj), try to understand what the message of the Holy Quran is and practice the Sunnah of Prophet Muhammad PBUH, I think I have sent the message through louder and clearer!  

         

 

WHITHER, GOOD MANNERS?! MY ARTICLE IN YOUNG WORLD

Whither… Good Manners?

          (Before coming to my point today, I would like my young readers to know that I do not mean to offend or charge them. I have great faith in our young generation and consider them more enlightened and intelligent than ever before. Our children are the architects of a better tomorrow. But, just in good spirit, I would like to point out to some short comings which they and their parents are overlooking).  

We are living in an era where life is moving at a fast pace. The world has changed into a global village. Lots of things are changing around us.  Being a grandmother, I have observed five generations; two senior than me and two who came after me. I feel that a lot of our cultural and moral values are not keeping up with the fast paced life and without realizing it, we are simply leaving them behind. Norms and mannerisms, which were considered totally unacceptable a couple of decades ago, have stealthily crept into the behavior and attitude of our children.

Usually parents and other older people are quick to point accusing fingers at the children and state that this was not the way we behaved when we were young. We can not (and should not) blame children for this change. We must realize that they have been born and brought up in a world totally different from our own childhood days. Children of today are overloaded with information. They have access to the computer, the internet, e- mail, text message, I phone and the television churns out information round the clock. They have the world at their finger tips. Interaction with human beings is on the down slide as children are happier to spend time with these gadgets

          In the 1950s 0r 60s people usually lived in extended families, with three or more generations under a single roof. Children had a lot of time to interact with their grand parents and other senior family members. Like today, parents usually were pressed for time, but the grandparents played a great role in the character building of the little ones. Through stories, anecdotes and sharing the wisdom they had gained from their experiences, they instilled good values in the children. They were often the role models which the children idolized and followed with great zeal.

          A grandmother (who prefers to remain anonymous) shares her views “Back in the sixties, when I was a schoolgirl, there was a firm set of rules for children which we were taught (and expected) to follow firmly. There was long list of does and don’ts. Never talk back to your parents and elders, do not interrupt when a person older than you is speaking. During a discussion, although we were encouraged to give our views, we had always to wait for our turn to speak our mind. Not only the elderly family members, but older siblings were treated with respect and sometimes when the parents were not around, they easily slipped into the role of the caretaker and the person in charge.”

She adds, “When a Buzurg (an aged person), entered a room and there was no empty seat, we were taught to try to be the first to offer ours. We were expected to stop our chatting and laughter and change the topic to something interesting to the newcomer. Keeping our voice and tone soft, sitting in an upright position whenever our parents or elders were around, were all considered parts of good manners. But now more often than not, the children do not even notice you, they keep on doing whatever they were busy in, whether it is surfing on the internet, chatting with friends, listening to loud music, watching the TV or just lying down.”

          Where can we draw a line between appearing ‘Cool’ and being insolent? This is the question where I find our new generation a bit confused. It is good to stand out in the crowd, but the difference should be in a better performance in all fields of life, rather than being ill behaved and bad mannered.

The world has changed but the relationships remain the same. You may not live with your grand parents, but they deserve the same amount of love and respect that they did three or four decades back. At times they may sound ill informed or old fashioned, but this does not mean that you should ignore, or worse still, ridicule them. Inspite of all your knowledge, they are still wiser because of the experiences they have gained over the decades.

Parents often complain that their children feel offended when they are asked where they are going, with whom and when they will be back. The new generation find the “Ws” (who, why, when) very irritating. Shirmeen, a teenager says, “Whenever I plan to hang out with my friends, my parents act weirdly. I am bombarded with questions! Why don’t they trust me? Parents should have faith in their children.” Her mother on the contrary says, “With the insecure conditions in the city, I want to know where and with whom my daughter is going and when would she be back. I simply don’t understand why she gets mad when I ask her a couple of questions.”

Most children take the parental intervention as a big obstacle in their enjoyment, as they feel it is an invasion into their privacy. Instead of being irritated by your parents’ questions, you should realize their concern for your safety. Communication gaps always lead to misunderstandings. If you sit down with them and discuss politely why you feel annoyed by their queries, you will be able to explain your point of view, as well as understand what they want or expect from you in return.

A mother of three kids, Hina Nauman says “Manners of our children have changed drastically as we have confused “badtameezi” (misbehavior) with confidence. And parents to an extent are to be blamed for this attitude. They often ignore children’s wrong manners saying that they do not want them to lose their self-confidence. What they don’t realize is that to discipline your child doesn’t mean you are making him under confident. The standard of being cool today is to stand out in the crowd at the expense of hurting or belittling others, others could be the parents themselves, the older members of the family or friends. I often get shocked when people are actually happy when they see their kid answering back to elders, which is not confidence but plain insolence. We can wrap it the way we want to, but this is not right for the character building of children. We are looking at a confused value system all together.”

In the end I would like to quote my late mother who was a woman of great wisdom, “Your behavior, speech and body language is the mirror to your family”, she used to say, “Wherever you go and whoever you meet, people should realize that you come from a respectable background. And respectability is by no means related to wealth! The way you have been brought up, the values you learnt in your early childhood and the role models you follow, strongly affects your personality”.

So, my friends beware of all things which may appear ‘cool’ today! Tomorrow, even if you realize that they adversely affect your personality, you may be so much addicted to the bad behaviour that you may not be able to shake it off even if you want to do so! 

RAMZAN AND PAKISTAN ( Musings of a true Pakistani!)

 

We have been blessed by the month of Ramadan again. This is the time of the year to re-learn lessons, to stop and think; and to act for a better life and a better future! As I repeatedly say, Ramadan is not about refraining to eat and drink from dawn to dusk as this only the physical requirement of this month. Neither is it only about preparing and shopping for Eid, something we all spend a major part of the month in. The message of this month goes much deeper! If we think a bit profoundly, we will find that this is a month to change ourselves for the better, to improve in all aspects of life.

We all know Pakistan was created on the 14th of August 1947, but maybe most of us do not know that this day coincided with the 27th of Ramadan 1368 Hijri. If we truly realize the real lessons of this month, and apply it to our behavior and attitude as citizens of Pakistan, we can make a drastic improvement in the future of our homeland. All of us have to play a role and change ourselves to contribute towards this goal.

Discipline, obedience, punctuality, compassion for those less blessed than us, sharing and caring and a sense of accountability are all feelings which can go a long way in improving our lives as well as the situation in Pakistan.

My readers may be too young to realize the intensity of the dire state of affairs we as a nation are stuck in, but you are enlightened enough to know that all is not well in Pakistan. The newspaper and the electronic media give us disturbing news every day. Your parents fear for your security when you go out. Illiteracy, crimes, corruption and greed are gnawing at the roots of our beloved homeland. If we as a nation resolve to apply the true spirit of Ramadan to our conduct and outlook as a nation, a positive change in the situation is bound to come.

Ramadan teaches us the lesson of obedience. We know that we have to go without food and during during a fast. But we can easily sneak a snack or a glass of water when no one is watching us. But none of us would even think of doing so because we all firmly believe that a Divine Eye is watching us! Why is it so that we take a pleasure in breaking rules and disobeying laws? Sneaking a flower or two and walking on the grass where it is clearly written “Do not walk on the grass or pluck flowers” give us a sense of adventure. Breaking traffic signals and over speeding on roads are not even considered a crime by most people. Pushing and shoving each other instead of making a queue at public places are all national habits with us. These are small crimes but this frame of mind gives rise to a disregard for law at all levels. If we learn to obey and respect the law at a young age, a far reaching change will be seen very soon.

Ramadan is the month of punctuality. We start and break fasts according to the fixed time and not according to our mood or whim. But as a nation we totally lack a sense of punctuality. Students submit their work late, government officers generally do not care if they do not reach their offices in time; we seldom follow the timings when we attend a wedding or any other invitation. And often I have found patients waiting and suffering in pain because the doctors do not turn up at the exact time they have given to their patients. Time is a commodity which we love to waste although if we study the cases of developed nations we shall find that punctuality and valuing time is one of their foremost qualities. So, this Ramadan let us resolve that we shall value our time and try to do every thing according to a set routine.

When we give out Zakaat in Ramadan, we come in contact with people less privileged than us. This creates in us a sense of compassion as well a will to share our blessings with the needy people around us. Feeling the pangs of hunger as well going thirsty makes us realize what the poor people go through the year around. If we nurture these feelings and keep them alive around the year, a large number of people from our circle will benefit. Giving away clothes, toys, books and other personal possessions which you can comfortably do without may bring joy and content to those who can not afford to buy these things. Frustrations and deprivations usually give rise to crime. The crime graph in our country can come down sharply if the affluent change their attitude of amassing wealth by using unfair means and depriving the worthy of their share, but these qualities have to be learnt from a young age.

In the end I must say that Ramadan gives us a general sense of piety, an urge to do good deeds and shun bad ones. Lying, cheating, selfishness, greed and back biting are all qualities which are causing the detoriation in the conditions our country is facing. While fasting we have a natural urge to keep away from these ills. Why not resolve firmly to make this a national habit? Even when Ramadan is over and we are not fasting truthfulness, honesty, patriotism and discipline can go a far way to guide Pakistan towards the road to development.

So, enjoy the delicacies Mummy cooks for Iftar and Sehar but do not fail to lend her a helping hand wherever you can. Shop for your Eid preparations but do not forget those who are less privileged than you. But foremost of all, this Ramadan let’s resolve to make Pakistan a better place to live in. When we all join hands and make firm resolution things will improve Insha Allah. Because as an optimistic I firmly believe that there is light at the end of the darkest tunnel! A change (for the better) in our values and preferences is the need of the hour.

Communication issues: Rules for a healthy argument

      (This article was published in the Young World, Dawn Inpage Magazine for children, but somehow I feel that grownups like me need this lesson more than children do. Making an argument an ego matter, we are often rude and try to belittle people who do not agree with us!)

          According to George Bernard Shaw “The moment we want to believe something, we suddenly see all the arguments for it, and become blind to the arguments against it”.

Arshad and Hammad are not on speaking terms for the last two weeks. Reason? They had entered into an argument on which player in the Pakistani Cricket team was responsible for the defeat in the semi- final of ICC World Cup. Each one was defending his favourite player and slinging allegations on the other’s favourite. Although they were close friends, the argument finally became an ego matter and resulted in a quarrel.

An argument can be defined as a difference of opinion among two persons (or groups), when each one tries his best to prove that his views are right and those of his opponent’s are wrong. Too often we see a healthy argument change into a heated debate, or worse still into an ugly fight. We can get into an argument on petty issues with friends, siblings, parents and sometimes even with complete strangers.

Although we do not like to lose once we have entered into an argument, we should realize and understand that every individual has a different opinion depending upon his/her age, education, social and moral values and family and religious background.  The ultimate goal of an argument should never be a contest to see who is the winner , it should be a means to let other see your point of view and trying to make them agree with you (or convince you if you are wrong). To make an argument a means for improved knowledge and a door to better communication there are some rules which should be followed strictly.

Questions like ‘Why?’ ‘How’ and ‘When’ not only make an argument informative, they may also correct some myths and wrong believes of your opponent. But before making any statement, be dead sure that you know your facts properly. Making a claim that is false would make your case weak and you will end up losing even though most of your views were correct.

Talk politely but firmly. To convince others during an argument and make them share your view, stress your points with full conviction. You should show that you are confident about what you are talking about. Keep your mind and voice under control and talk with dignity. Raising your voice over your opponents, insulting him, becoming aggressive and/or flying into a rage, only proves that you have a weak stand and are running out of rationale facts. A calm attitude and a normal voice level will go a far way to strengthen your argument.

          While discussing controversial issues it is better to let your opponent speak first. Listen carefully and let him state his views clearly. Never interrupt him before he is finished. In this way you will have a better understanding of the other person’s views and why his opinion differs from yours. When your turn comes to speak, you will be able to express yourself in a more convincing manner and have a better chance to get your point through.

          Never under estimate your opponent. Don’t think he/she is silly, obstinate or not as intelligent (or educated) as you are. Many arguments are won by showing respect to the views of the person with whom you have a difference of opinion. Never make it into an ego matter. The ultimate aim of an argument should never be belittling the person you have a difference of opinion with; it should always be a step towards better perception of a controversial issue. You must realize that it is not necessary that you are always the one who is right, so keep your mind open during an argument.

          Never, I repeat NEVER argue just for the sake of an argument. Some people just love to disagree with the people around them. They have the unpleasant habit of entering into arguments on every topic and with everyone they come across. They will differ with you in all matters and trap you into joining them in the controversy. But beware of these people! Don’t accept every invitation to enter into a discussion. First, search your mind to find out if you have any idea about the topic of disagreement; whether you can talk about it or not. At times it is better to keep quiet and listen, instead of uttering something foolish which you will regret later. An anonymous saying says, “People who know the least always argue the most”. Avoid being one of those people.

          The ultimate goal of an argument should never be a proof of who is cleverer or has better knowledge. It should not be considered as a contest in which winning is very important. Realizing the fact that each one of us has a right to his/her own opinion, we should let it be a means of communicating which each other and sharing our views and thoughts. Always remember that people are more important than views. You may lose a good friend by being obstinate or unrealistic.  After an argument, even if you have won it, you may be the real loser if in the end you find that you have lost a close friend!

 

Hypocrisy: The pretending game….A slightly edited version of an article published in The Review (Dawn In-Paper Magazine).

I was reading a book around mid-afternoon, a daily ritual I perform before my afternoon siesta, when my seven-year-old grandson came and announced, “Nafisa Auntie’s call for you Amma”. Oh no, I groaned inwardly! Always at draggers drawn with her daughter-in-law, my friend often calls with her (new) list of complaints. And I am forced to listen to her rants, although I am least interested, plus I do not have such a bad opinion of the poor girl! But I do not have the courage to give my views to my old friend, as I do not want to annoy her.

 

The book was getting interesting and I was in no mood to be disturbed, so I told the little one to tell Nafisa that Dadi is sleeping. “But you are not sleeping Amma!” Looking a bit confused, he reminded me innocently, “You always tell me that I should never tell a lie”. “Run away and do as you are told. I don’t need your sermon,” I scolded him. He left the room, but not before giving me a reproachful look. I returned to my book without having the slightest idea that I had given my little grandson his first lesson in hypocrisy.

 

How many of us go through similar experiences in our day-to-day life? Majority of us are hypocrites as we love to preach what we ourselves seldom practice, conveniently molding our rules and principles to suit our moods and whims (and sometimes convenience).

A hypocrite can be defined as a person who pretends to have virtues, principles or moral believes which he does not actually possess. He is also a person who feigns desirable attitude when in company, although this behaviour does not conform with his true personality. According to Bertrand Russell, “We have two kinds of morality side by side; one which we preach but do not practice and another which we practice but seldom preach.”

So, what is the real cause of hypocrisy? For me, the most important reason is the fear of disapproval of the people with whom I interact in my day-to-day life. I am scared that my true feelings may annoy or hurt them, or have a lower opinion of me than what I would like them to have! So, I take refuge under the cloak of hypocrisy. Also, as I am so obsessed with myself, I usually do not think that something is wrong if a nice person like me is doing it. At times, I lie so sincerely, I cease to perceive my deception, forgetting that I am not deceiving people but only myself. Although, according to Socrates, “The greatest way to live with honour in this world is to be what we pretend to be”.

Let me explain. I go to the wedding of an acquaintance’s daughter and after greeting and congratulating my hostess I exclaim, “Wow! Salma, you look so beautiful in this maroon dress. One would never guess you are the bride’s mother”. Salma blushes as she guides me to a seat and moves away. “What a terrible colour to wear, looks so loud for her age!” I whisper to a common friend sitting next to me. “But you were complimenting her for her dress just a moment ago.” She looks surprised. “Do you know she is the principal of my grand- daughter’s school? I can’t take the risk of annoying her,” I reply with a smug smile.

Umar Adil, a young businessman, believes, “Hypocrisy has become a second nature to most of us. In today’s world what matters to us the most is what other people think of us. Even our opinion about ourselves is based on those views. I am a real man living in a real world and trying to prove myself. Yes, naturally I am a hypocrite. What I say and preach is rarely based on what I practice and most of the time I do this to create a cool impression. The remedy to this issue is accomplishment. Once you prove yourself a successful person, you find your actions speak better than the hollow sermons you never tire of giving. I know I can get over my hypocrisy (i.e. if I want to do so), but the time is not ripe for it yet!”

Freelance writer and journalist Farahnaz Zahidi Moazzam gives her views, “Hypocrisy, to me, is a form of lying. Unfortunately, we all end up indulging in it as there are contradictions in our personalities, our lifestyles and our beliefs. We often portray ourselves to be something that we are not. I think true liberation comes with being one’s true self under all circumstances. People who don’t accept us the way we are don’t deserve to be in our life.” When asked if she is a hypocrite, she replies with a smile, “This question actually teaches me to be less judgmental. Commenting on others’ actions should be avoided, as at times we may end up doing the same thing in similar circumstances”.

I know many people who can be called hypocrites, but I have never been able to muster enough courage to tell them so, as I myself am a hypocrite. There are times when I really feel ashamed of my hypocrisy and wonder what measures I can take to minimize it. Maybe this can be achieved by trying my best to always do and say what I believe to be right and not changing my values to justify my actions. On other self-righteous moments, I overcome my guilt by reminding myself that I am an honest hypocrite and unlike most people, have the courage to admit my weaknesses.

A PROMISE IS A PROMISE! http://dawn.com/2012/10/20/personality-a-promise-is-a-promise/

Aside

Asad had been asking his friend and class fellow Naveed, to help him understand the new chapter on algebra equations.

Somehow math does not come to him easily, although he is good in literature and other subjects and is always eager to help out his classmates.

The two live at walking distance to each other and Naveed keeps on saying, “I promise you, I will come to your place tomorrow or ask you to come over and then I will explain the chapter to you.”

After wasting a week, Asad finally realises that Naveed is just stalling him by making false promises and has no intention of keeping his word, so he must seek help somewhere else.

Mummy is angry with Shirmeen because she has created a mess in her room. Throughout her exams, she kept on asking her mother not to clear up her bedroom as she had her notes and books strewn all around and did not want them to be misplaced.

“I promise you I will clear up everything myself once my exams are over,” she kept on telling her mother. But with more than a week after her papers are finally over, her room is still in the same condition. She is busy catching up on her sleep, hanging out with friends or browsing on the internet or simply doing nothing.

Whenever Mummy reminds her of her promise, Shirmeen has the same reply, “No Mummy! I am not in the mood today; I swear I will clear up everything tomorrow!”

Most of us do not realise that a promise is a word of honour, something we should consider our duty to keep once we have made it! So we should be careful before making a promise. Instead of making it a tool to put off things we do not want to do, we should only commit ourselves when we are sure we will do the task. According to an anonymous quote, “Promise only what you can deliver. Then deliver more than you have promised”.

The best way to keep a promise is not to make one in haste! So do not rush yourself into a commitment. If someone asks you for a favour, ask for some time to think it over before replying. Make sure that you want to do what you are being asked, and then be clear on what you are promising and what would be expected from you. Setting deadlines to do something often helps a lot.

The famous Swiss educationist, essayist and philosopher Jean Jacques Rousseau once said, “Those that are most slow in making a promise are the most faithful in the performance of it”.

Promises are made not only with the people around us; sometimes we make commitments to ourselves too. Your doctor thinks that you are getting obese and need to shed some kilos; you pledge that you will avoid all junk foods until you reach your required weight. Your result is not up to your (or your parents) expectations. And then you make a commitment with yourself that you will not waste time on television, computer and just hanging around with friends. But, time and again, you give in to temptation and break your promise.

“Only this one time” is the frame of mind which often makes us go back on a vow we have made with ourselves. And this leads to a loss of our self-esteem and confidence. It is like sending the message to our brain that we do not value our own word. Instead of making excuses for ourselves by stating the reasons we had to go back on a pledge, we should push and motivate ourselves and work a bit harder to fulfil our word.

There may be times when we are compelled to break a promise due to unavoidable circumstances. Maybe you had committed to your mother that you would look after a younger sibling while she goes to visit her ailing parent. But you feel you will not be able to afford the time due to lots of homework or a test the next day.

Feel free to discuss your problem and apologise for not being able to keep the promise. That will make her realise your difficulty, and if you have always been true to your word, she would certainly understand and think of an alternative which would suit you.

A promise may be regarding something not very important, like calling back a friend, replying to a letter or e-mail, visiting a relative or running an errand for your mother; once you have given your word, be sure to fulfil it! It is a social responsibility as well as a part of a good and likeable personality. People around you will trust you only when you are true to your word.

Otherwise they will label you as a disorganised or an irresponsible person.

So instead of taking promises as a means to put off things you do not consider important or just do not want or simply feel lazy about, you should consider them to be sacred and make all efforts to fulfil something you have pledged to do.