Lena Winfrey Hayat
Don't laugh when I tell you we can save humanity. Sure, we have grown cynical. As a race, humans appear to be spiraling into a dark, unending abyss without any light of hope. With a bad economy, falling quality of education, some without health insurance or healthcare and individuals greedily infected with the “me-syndrome,” we almost begin to believe those Doomsday predictions. It‟s easy to believe we are becoming extinct when we look at all the recent natural disasters and all of the apparently unsolvable problems. We need a miracle. We need a hero. I'm sorry to say we don't have any. However, humans as a united group need to stand up and become heroes so we can save humanity for ourselves and for our children.
The human spirit of change is alive when we see sparks of revolution across the world; they are shouting that they've had enough! We've seen it in America as people demonstrate for rights and humanity. When we speak our minds and demonstrate for our rights we are exercising a great freedom granted in the First Amendment, though some want to quell us.
However, there needs to be something more than just passionately shouting our opinions and will. All great ideas need vision and need action to back them up. We need a plan-- a comprehensive plan that will not only keep us afloat, but also rescue us from drowning in the disastrous mess we and our predecessors have created.
Three areas that might get us onto the road of salvation are:
- Vision and a return to ethics/values
- Interfaith cooperation
- Raising the importance and quality of education
These ideas might seem simple; however, they are complex. If these issues are addressed, we could raise the nation and possibly save the whole world. Granted that economic problems may distract us from these higher goals, we still must forge forward. Sure, if someone is hungry or homeless he is not ready to consider vision, faith or education. What we must do is to help those in need to get into a better condition; however, we cannot ignore that we must exercise wisdom and plan to bring about happiness for all of us. If we return to vision and values, then we might help out our fellow human beings and learn to be self-less. If we raise education, we might get better jobs for our children tomorrow. If we learn to be more tolerant and cooperate, we might save the world.
Vision and Return to Ethics/Values
Vision is what gives us light in the dark tunnel of despair. It allows us to see our goals and helps us to focus on priorities. With this roadmap of vision, we can build steps and journey towards our goals.
As a nation, we lack vision. We are wandering lost in the wilderness of politics and bureaucracy. Congress seems unable to agree upon anything. There are tons of issues facing the nation. The president, even with noble ideas, is one man who needs government and others to assist him rather than fight and resist him. When looking at government, it is discouraging as we watch the “children” playing and fighting on the congressional playground.
We have to look at the big picture. We need leadership not only at the top, but even in local neighborhoods. We need to support our neighborhoods, towns, states and the whole country. And as one of the most powerful nations in the world, we should be guiding the world and cooperating with it rather than arrogantly bossing it around. As the old saying goes: “Honey attracts flies better than vinegar.” We need to learn the art of true communication.
Since we all belong to one race, the human race, we need to concentrate on all that we have in common and what are the common needs of human beings. If an asteroid is headed towards the earth, does it affect one country or the whole earth? If a life-threatening disease gets loose on the planet, does it choose its victims by gender, race or religion? Of course not! Disease is color/theology blind. Natural disasters and troubles don't go around taking down statistics and race information before striking. This should teach us something. Unfortunately, most of us miss nature's lessons.
Some human beings have led the world with amazing insight and marvelous inventions. There have been great, strategic leaders. There have been those who have inspired movements and people. Humans have the ability to reach amazing heights. We can transform ourselves into heroes. However, we need to do it as a team-- as a global effort. Cooperation is the key, but how do we get to that level?
First, we have to communicate and learn through real negotiation how to set down real goals and targets. We must prioritize as we learn how to give and take for the greater good of all.
Government, both national and local, need to learn true management skills. We can look at it like a company culture creation that we have heard about in all the top organizations. This culture is led by real vision with targets (or end results) in mind. There must be accountability. These principles of management and organization actually can be applied in not only official agencies but also in families and individual lives.
One big problem among humans today is the fact that we generally don't like to take responsibility for our actions, especially when we fail or have negative results. We don't like to admit our mistakes. We either make a million excuses or blame someone else. Rather than playing the blame game, we need to do what the Japanese culture teaches, „just solve the problem. ‟They don't spend precious time and money blaming others; they look quickly for solutions and how to implement them. No one is perfect; humans tend to fall prone to mistakes, and this is why we find many religions with a repentance clause. We may fall, but we can admit, ask forgiveness and climb back up again.
Years ago, America was seen as Rome was: it was a beacon of civilization and justice when the Republic was at its height. However, it disintegrated and fell due to self-destruction. Can't we learn from history?
What makes a nation truly civilized and advanced? Is it just technology? True civilization is shown in the behavior and characters of a country‟s citizens. It is reflected in the leadership's actions. America was once considered a beacon of justice and a land of freedom. Americans were seen as brave, courageous, determined, intelligent, friendly, and fair. Yet, over the years we have allowed this image to become tarnished abroad through some unfortunate decisions, actions and behaviors of a few who were in charge. This can be remedied if we go back to the basics and really envision what we as a nation truly want to be. This goes back to vision and goal setting just like the Founding Fathers did when they first wrote the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. We don't have to only stick to these documents. We can envision a new tomorrow and decide as a nation what direction we want to do by building on these foundations and making them stronger. We can advance, if we allow ourselves to truly advance in the best possible manner. Leadership must inspire the citizens to raise their moral/ethical standards and to guide them in a direction that is both good for the country and the individual citizen. This starts by leadership in every facet of the nation becoming good role models of these principles.
Great leaders of some of the biggest companies can teach us lessons in vision, coaching and creating inspiration/passion within the employees. This is applicable to real life outside the business world. When we know where we are going and have a purpose, then we will more readily work harder to reach our anticipated destination.
We find globally a decline in morals and a rise in crime. Abuses and atrocities abound throughout the world. It can happen to any neighborhood. No one is 100% safe. That makes it a priority to protect not just one community or one nation but indeed the whole world. However, we need to work from both angles. The best approach is from the grassroots population who work with local organizations who in turn work with international and global organizations. Global networking is as vital as oxygen, and it needs to be organized in an accessible manner.
This trend towards lawlessness is not just because law agencies can't enforce laws. It is because indeed there is a rise in crime and a loss of morality. How can we infuse society with ethics? How can we give people a conscience? How can we learn to take responsibility and influence people to once again, as many of our ancestors did, carry ourselves with honor, good manners, honesty, loyalty, dependability and neighborliness?
Our children always emulate what they see. Regardless of race or religion (even social status), some people unfortunately do not practice what they preach or truly live what they profess. Most religions have an aspect of peace, love and humanity along with honesty and good behavior. So, where is this good behavior? Even those who do not profess a faith were at least as children introduced to moral ethics in the classroom (at least we hope so). However, our classrooms have been losing ground in this area, too.
Today, we have larger numbers of divorced families with split homes, more cases of poverty that drive some to crime who otherwise would not do so, and a spoiled youth (yes we did spoil our kids) who lack an understanding of true responsibility as money and objects become more easily given than time and attention. The role models have become either the streets where bullies, gangs and other less desirable elements exist, or TV and video games that are increasingly giving early exposure to children in violence and sex. Children don't need to see half of what they see, and this loss of innocence can never be regained; it will distort their view of the real world and affect their behavior. For example, research has shown that horror films can cause some children to behave more aggressively towards others or even to bed wet at night. Media and parents both need to share the blame.
Firstly, many will say that parents can forbid bad films/games. Unfortunately, this is easier said than done because many households have both parents working. Also, children learn from older siblings (who should be taught to be more cautious with younger siblings) or from classmates and friends. All a kid has to do sometimes is to step out their door and they might be assaulted by some negative image or colorful language. Kids pick up everything quickly like a sponge, which is why good education and influences should be introduced early.
Media and those in charge should concentrate on making more wholesome programs for children. And really, is it necessary to extensively show everything in a film? Can't they just leave some things to the imagination and just insinuate (like they used to do in the old black and white films that were excellent films with a great stories)? Media needs to tone things down just a bit; even some adults get tired of seeing all of these bad images all the time. People in media need to remember that their children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews may see this film/program. Do they really want to expose these innocent children to such graphic material with such language all the time?
Sure, we say let the parents monitor their kids. However, when we say a thing is "forbidden" sometimes it makes the child more curious, and they will find ways to sneak to see it. Kids have ways of getting around rules. On the web, some kids sign-up and maybe lie about their age. Instead of 18 they might be 10. It happens. Maybe more secure systems need to be on sites, or maybe more ratings and better control should be on media products. However, media does have a responsibility since it is part of society. It has a great power to influence, and if it really wanted to it could find a way to positively influence youth. Media has a great responsibility since its voice is so loud and influential. This in turn trickles down to all the writers, directors, producers, actors and other celebrities. These persons in media must carry themselves as role models and as people who can inspire not only a nation but the world. You do have gifts and talents that can be used to create positive change in society. You can inspire, influence and change people and the world. That is power!
Leadership of the country should inspire morality in both the behavior and speeches. Those at the top can encourage others to scramble to implement positive behavior. Congress needs to think of this. Be good role models and encourage citizens to be good role models. Support parents in all ways. We need more programs (or maybe we need existing programs to work correctly) to support families financially so they can have enough food and proper healthcare. Young parents should have more training and to be taught something about parenting. It would help them greatly to understand how children develop and what is good for their growth as well understanding the reason behind all of this advice. Creating motivation to stick to these ideas is key. Head Start programs require extra support. Good teachers can be good role models for youth who may not have any other role model. Teachers must have proper training, support and encouragement. Bad teachers should be removed; no debate on this one. Teachers who are not appropriate for children, can actually cause more harm.
As a nation, we need to decide what we want our children to grow into and how we want our nation to develop. Do we want them to fall into chaos, crime, drugs and irresponsibility? Or, do we want our children to become successful, kind, honest pillars of society who empathize and help others?
There is hope. Daily we hear stories about amazing people who do good deeds and help others, but this group is shrinking and being assaulted by so many negative obstacles. We must support them. Humans must realize they are part of a community and should be encouraged to do something of value to help humanity in their neighborhoods. Then a chain reaction will occur that would spread nationally and globally. “Help starts at home.”
When we begin to care about others, we can actually gain a sense of brotherhood/sisterhood. This is vital. We have to learn to tolerate differences and look at these differences as strengths that we each have that can complement each other.
There exists too much hatred, prejudice, racism and arrogance in the world. Humans have to decide that as a race on planet earth, we are facing some real big problems such as weak economies, contagious diseases, natural disasters, global warming, threat of nuclear weapons/accidents (like in Japan), rising crime globally and so much more! Bullying is at a high level in school, work, and every other place. Terrorism is spreading and wars are raging. The human race is riding an elevator that has a cable ready to snap and crash us into a dark abyss.
Let us dream an “impossible dream” Just imagine we could build a Utopia. Imagine how calm, tranquil, safe and relaxing it would be? Of course, we live in the real world, but can't we strive to build a more peaceful and safer world?
In order to have peace and development, we first need communication so we can reach the level of cooperation. Most people do not know the true way to communicate. How many divorced couples divorced due to lack of communication? How many arguments occur daily at work or elsewhere due to lack of communication (and even lack of respect)? Communication is a much-needed skill that many people actually try to acquire by reading books or attending lectures. This is truly learned by practice and the desire to apply it. We cannot have true cooperation without understanding, or at least the acceptance of others who are different from us or hold different beliefs than we do.
Today, we have so many problems in the world over people vying for who has the best religion, the true religion, the correct religion or even the acceptable religion! Everyone, wake up! Most religions do believe there is a Divine Power or a Creator – One God. Many of the world religions have similar moral codes that forbid lying, stealing, killing, etc. So, why can't we all sit down calmly and have peaceful dialogue? We need to concentrate on the common themes that bind us rather than small details that divide us. Each person is free to believe as he/she wishes, and each person is responsible for him or herself. So, why do we always have to argue and hate over differing beliefs? Why do we have to fear those who are different? We are really not so different. We are all humans! Most of us have the same problems, same dreams and same desires in life. We need to pull together and cooperate to save the world!
Educated, specialized, prominent scholars of all faiths could meet together and analyze what we have in common and decide what we all mutually consider good as well as what we mutually consider harmful. Then they can write down common goals and ideas for saving the earth and humanity. This certainly may not be easy, but it is not impossible. We need to gather people who are not only knowledgeable but also rational, flexible, tolerant, and preferably bi-lingual or with translators. We should include people globally and bring representatives from all over the world. Plans should be made with priorities set forth that could even be brought up at the UN. These efforts should be pushed forward by countries that have the clout to do so.
War is such a destructive act. Sometimes it may be necessary, but it should be the last resort. Unfortunately, some people are looking for quick-fixes, and they turn to violence rather than exhausting all avenues of peace. Peace needs to be a priority! Every life is precious and no one has a right to decide whose is more precious than another, unless someone is harming another and we have laws to deal with this. We must help our neighbors and build bridges, even when we feel afraid to so do. Sometimes we have to take a chance. We should expand our friends and learn about those different from ourselves; then we'll discover we aren't really that different after all. We will surprise each other with our common interests and common goals.
Raising the Importance and Quality of Education
Sometimes lack of education can create mistrust and prejudice. We fear what we don't know. Most of us don't realize that some of our actions, behaviors and thinking come from our parents and our environment. We tend to live in a way that we were raised without realizing we may be wrong or may not be “perfect.” We tend to carry an attitude that our way is the best way. We sometimes get arrogant and want to force others to be just like us, as if there is only one mold.
Have you ever cooked a dish and your mother-in-law, sister or aunt comes in and tells you that you are doing it wrong? They try to re-adjust you and make you cook the meal their way rather than just accepting that your way could also be correct? Isn't that annoying? For men, I'm sure this has happened while they were fixing a car or the house and their father-in-law or father comes and tries to correct them according to what they think is correct. Sometimes the other person may really be correct, but there is more than one way to do some things. In life, we have to remember there are various ways to do the same activity and that maybe all the ways are correct.
When we lack education or don't use the education we have, we tend to see the world in a narrow way. We only know the small world of our street or town. When the vision is limited, we are partially blind. We need to keep in mind no one has a monopoly on the truth.
There are different types of education, and people are on various tracks. We have academic and religious education. Even self-awareness is a type of education that unfortunately some people lack. These basic types of education are needed world-wide. Some people lack the academic skills to get a decent job or even a job at all. We still have people in the US who are illiterate! How mind boggling! Basic skills must exist among every corner of the population. And in general, the whole world would do much better and get along better if people everywhere had a decent level of education that not only allows him/her to hold a decent job, but also to have some knowledge about the world and other people in it that are different from themselves. Once there is a basic understanding, fear of the unknown lessens and people can find some way to communicate or at least to tolerate.
Basic ethics and morality, regardless of religion, must exist in all education world-wide where people mutually respect each other and can accept that other people hold different views. Tolerance is an ingredient for peace. Development cannot occur successfully when there is no peace.
The reason I include religious education as a priority is because there exist some people throughout the world who profess a faith, and yet they do not know their own religion properly! Some people will do acts contrary to their religion, even unknowingly. If people had the right teachers or right schools teaching their correct faith, then it would be harder for those with political or fanatical agendas to play with them. Anyway, it is pure ignorance to claim a faith and to know nothing about what it says. Faith/religion should not be inherited. Even when born into a faith, one should examine that faith and be sure he/she knows what he/she is professing to believe in. There must be conscious knowledge to separate culture from religion. Sure, the culture may have remnants of religion in it or vice-versa, but most religions in their pure forms regardless of location or place of origin, share universal truths and basic elements because most of them come from one Divine Source, the Creator. Even those who don't claim a faith should hold to basic ethics. We are all human beings on this earth who must learn to work together with decency and a spirit of sincere cooperation.
In order to save humanity, trust has to be built between all groups of people, and this bridge can be fortified with an improvement in communication with the setting forth of a prioritized vision that is increased with interfaith cooperation and the re-development of education.
About the Author
Lena Winfrey Hayat was born in Virginia and graduated with a MA degree from VA Tech University. Lena lived overseas for years in various countries. She is the mother of 3 sons and 1 daughter. She has worked various jobs that include teaching, newspaper reporting, editing/translating, management and office admin. She published her first book "The Metamorphosis of a Muslim" in 2011. She has published a short story "Evolution or Revolution" as well as a collection of short stories "From Phoenix Flames". She enjoys writing in a variety of genres, both fiction and nonfiction. Lena writes poetry, novels and screenplays. She has some theatrical experience, and she has taken some courses to give her a grasp of filmmaking. Lena was fortunate to have worked on three short independent films as a script supervisor in the Orlando area. One of Lena's dreams is to eventually get into major filmmaking. Still, her main passion will always be writing.