Ask Yourself Why

We believe in so many things or people in life. We like and dislike many things or people for many reasons. We hold such beliefs close to our hearts. They are based on certain facts and experiences that are unique to each one of us.

The question of ‘what you believe in’ is not as important as the question of ‘why you believe in it’

I just recalled an incident a couple of years back. I was friends with this guy and he was an atheist. I was at that stage in life when I was struggling with my religious identity. I wanted to know why I was a Muslim. It was very important for me. To gain insight into this question I asked him a similar question because he seemed like an intellectual person. I asked him why he was an atheist the conversation became a bit long and I asked so many why’s I guess he felt I was questioning in faith-or rather faithlessness.

So imagine asking the following questions:

What religion do you follow?

What political party do you support?

I say I believe in Islam. I believe that PTI should be the leading party. But imagine adding the ‘why’ to the same interrogative sentence. Why do I believe in Islam? Why do I believe PTI should be the leading party? After you listen to someone’s answer to the question why with an open mind you will develop a deeper understanding for the person and their choices. You will learn to respect them maybe, depending on how convincing the argument is. But the key is having an open mind to opposing ideas.

We often DON’T ask OURSELVES the ‘why’. It is important for the critical thinking skill that we lack very often and do not bother to imply by asking why do we do what we do or why do we believe in what we believe in.

Self-evaluation is very uncommon and only few know how precious this gem is for personal growth and development. The problem in Pakistan is that our education system does not focus on a life skill like this which will help in the intellectual and spiritual of an individual but it will also develop and understanding and compassion for the people in society.

Dilemma of an Overweight Female Citizen of Pakistan

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‘Shouldn’t you lose some weight?’

‘So how far into your weight loss program are you?’

‘Ah. You have gained some weight.’

‘Hm. You look fat.’

So on and so forth. Yes, these ever consuming questions and statements that plague everyone who meets me. So dear random citizen (or relative) who is concerned by my overweight appearance, this is dedicated to you. But please take note that every time you tell me how I need to lose weight, you lose respect in my eyes.

I honestly appreciate your constant remarks about my weight. I get it. You are concerned for my well-being. But please elaborate on how losing weight would be so beneficial for me? So I get it when you have a normal weight the chances of you getting cardiovascular diseases is low and there are a million health benefits. But how can you tell by looking at me that I am not physically active? You cannot. You know why? Because even though I am overweight I workout 150 minutes every week which is the required amount. Do you? I am physically fit and do not have any disease currently. Alhamdulillah.fat

Furthermore, physical activity in itself is beneficial for mental health. I agree. It makes you intelligent, releases stress, and makes you happier. But I am physically active and I eat just as much; the reason I don’t lose weight that fast. I love food, period. I am not giving that up just so I could lose a few inches around my hips and my waist.

And if that isn’t really the reason why you want me to lose weight then what is? Would losing weight make me look more ‘beautiful’? Is that why you want me to lose weight? Because if that is the reason then let me say this; beauty is subjective. It changes from person to person, place to place and era to era; what might be beautiful for you might not be for me or someone else across the world. If you follow the set standards that society has defined as ‘beautiful’ then we can’t be on good terms. Those standards are shallow and unintelligible. Being skinny and fair shouldn’t be the only measures of beauty.

I think I am beautiful the way I am, thank you very much. I do not support or endorse the unintelligible shallow society’s standards. I create my own standards. Allah created me with a broad bone structure. He gave me hips wider than yours. I don’t have a problem with it and you shouldn’t either.

Climate Change & Poverty: An Unbreakable Bond

We have all heard the term climate change. However, for some reason I don’t feel like Pakistan and its population care much about its impact. Is it because it only strikes the poor in our society and they don’t even know that its climate change? Or is it because the elite are in most cases well-shielded from the drastic impacts? If you don’t care then ask yourself, why is the world going crazy over this issue?

We all can agree on the fact that changes in climatic conditions of an area will directly impact the agricultural produce. For Pakistan climate change is a big issue since it is highly dependent on agricultural produce for its GDP. To simplify it, imagine you own a huge piece of land. The land is dependent on rain (hence called rain-fed area). 80% of your income comes from the crop you produce and sell. Now imagine because of climate change, there is no rain (or the rain pattern has changed). You have no crop to sell and hence you have no money.

Many small farmers go through this ordeal every day because of climate change. Every time disasters take place, the poor in the society pay the heaviest price. It is always the farmers, the fish mongers, the fisherman, the laborer, and the miners who pay the price.

Pakistan ranks 10 on the Global Climate Risk Index and is under threat from climate change effects even though it has contributed a miniscule amount to global greenhouse gases. Climate change-induced disasters, particularly floods and erratic rainfall patterns, have badly affected water, agriculture and energy sectors. It is evident that this climate change affects the destitute amongst us at a greater level.

Poverty and climate change are very well connected. The drastic increase in deforestation has a lot to contribute to the climate change-induced disasters. Deforestation largely takes place because poor people have no other sustainable means for income and have zero access to fuel their stoves. Poverty is also the main reason as to why people don’t educate their children which leaves them as illiterate further contributing to the lack of environmental awareness problem. According to World Bank, 62% of Pakistan’s population lives in rural areas hence, employing 50% of the labor in agricultural related activity. Agriculture is climate sensitive and it is obvious how this could impact the poverty stricken people.

According to World Bank, ‘Ending poverty and addressing climate change are the two defining issues of our time. Both are essential to achieving our sustainable global development. But they cannot be considered in isolation.’ Tackling the issue of poverty would also help mitigate the effects of climate change on the national level. This calls for organization at grass-root level to adopt approaches that would help curb the effects of climate change induced disasters.

Good news regarding global poverty is that according to the United Nations Millennium Development Goals (2015), the target of reducing extreme poverty rates by half was met five years ahead of the 2015 deadline. Furthermore, more than 1 billion people have been lifted out of extreme poverty since 1990. This should galvanize and inspire similar approaches to be adopted by the Government of Pakistan to tackle poverty and address the issue of climate change at local, regional, and national level.

The Conference on Climate Change in Paris needs not isolate the issue of climate change but rather use an integrative approach to resolve the issue at hand. Currently, the best approach Pakistan should adopt would be to tackle the issue keeping in the mind the section of the society most affected by the disastrous impacts of climate change.

The writer is Chairperson Environmental Watch Trust and can be reached at blackstreaks@gmail.com.