Erenlai - Items filtered by date: Wednesday, 21 November 2007
Wednesday, 21 November 2007 20:05

The ambiguity and the challenge of being Asian

The boundaries of the geographic continent of “Asia” are clearly delineated on every world map, making it a specific readily identifiable land area with some nearby islands thrown in. But what it means to be “Asian” is not so readily defined, because Asia encompasses such a variety of topographies and climates and races and cultures and languages and religions, so that to have any specific meaning the word “Asian” needs to be qualified. Russians and Arabs and Jews and Indians and Orientals and Indonesians are all Asian. The Himalayan Mountains, the Gobi Desert, the Ganges Valley, the Russian Steppes, the Arabian Peninsula, the Philippine Islands are all Asian. Will the real Asian please stand up! Each one is really Asian; each one is really different. Can any single one truly represent what it means to be Asian? Is there any single Asian language or mentality that gives them all some corporate unity? Is there anything that distinguishes them from the rest of the world? I believe that there is.

The creation of a political union or a religious union would seem quite out of the question at this time, but what about a union of trade and commerce and mutual support and development, no longer yielding the initiatives to Europeans or Americans or Africans. The one thing that Chinese and Indians and Arabs have in common is that they are not European or American or African. They share an area of the earth that does not belong to and is not occupied by Americans or Europeans or Africans. Without turning off the flow of investments from abroad or the charitable involvement of outsiders in the improvement of undeveloped Asian minorities, it is time for the peoples of Asia to accept full responsibility and assume full control over the political and economic destiny of their continent, so that each culture not only continues to flourish, but each one is proud to be Asian and fully involved in making sure that Asia has a dominant role in global affairs.

 

The creation of such a unification of purpose, sense of common brotherhood and mutual pulling together while preserving each one’s unique identity and independence will not be easy. Someone is going to have to emerge as a leader, someone as a trusted guru, others daring to take the first steps, others willing to follow their lead, the Americans, Europeans and Africans willing to pull back their dominating insistence on things being done their way. There will be successes and there will be failures. But what needs to emerge is an Asia for Asians by Asians for the benefit of the whole world.

 


Wednesday, 21 November 2007 19:39

Interfaith dialogue goes beyong political crisis

Living freely in Taiwan
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Pakistan holds a critical position in the international scene and does not have diplomatic relations with many countries. On one hand, the economy and the education system are not well developed, and the infrastructures are poor. On the other hand, Pakistan faces the negative repercussions following September 11th. This situation fails to give the Pakistanis stability in their lives to build their future in the country. “Most educated people grab any opportunity to go abroad”, Ali said. As they do not see any chance for the political power to become more open in the near future, they need to focus on their own lives, he explained. “I was lucky enough to have a friend in Taiwan who found me a job as a trading manager. Because Pakistan does not have any diplomatic relations with Taiwan, it makes it very difficult to find work opportunities. I needed a letter of invitation from the company, and to get a visa in Hong-Kong”. It is important for Ali to work in another Asian country, because he thinks that increasing economic ties between Asian countries can become a Regional help for Pakistan. “Taiwan gives me the chance to live a free life, which I consider is the most precious gift my Asian cousins could offer me.” Indeed, the political difficulties in Pakistan affect people’s lives. They cannot live a comfortable life, neither find good jobs”.

Religious interfaith dialogue can overcome cultural differences
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Pakistanis can build special connections with other Asians on the cultural side because of the Pakistan diplomatic relations problems. Politically and economically, we feel excluded from international cooperation programs. Ali said, “I think religions can unite nations, and go beyond political crisis”. Religions are deeply rooted in Asian cultures. 97% of Pakistanis are Muslims, and through Islam for instance, people can assimilate culturally with other Asian Muslim countries like Indonesia or Malaysia. In this sense, he thinks religion can increase common understanding between Asians, and can help to understand each other better. Reading the Koran is part of their education and sets their cultural boundaries. However, he said it also teaches them that they all are Brothers. “If you believe in the same things, it makes it easier to communicate with each other”. It also teaches them to open their minds to other religions. “I believe I can learn from Buddhists and through interface dialogue, we can find links between our different cultures”, Ali said. In this sense, with increased communication between Asians, we can build multi-cultural ties in Asia and set the possibility to build cooperation.

Economic relations in Asia give a chance for Pakistan to develop
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“I feel Asian”, Ali said. “We share a territory with other Asians and cultural ties with Asian countries, especially the ones close to us”. Pakistan and India used to be one big and strong power in West Asia, before they parted in 1947. In this sense, Indians and Pakistanis are not different. “I wished there would be less tension between these two countries to build more cooperation”. However, the bigger scale of Asia offers other opportunities of cooperation for Pakistan. Ali said that recently China’s investments became a crucial need for Pakistan to develop its economy. “Above the tensions between the big powers of India and China, Pakistanis rely on these economic ties, so we have a positive view upon China-Pakistan exchanges”. Ali thinks that more economic cooperation between Asian countries, set within the economic structure of an organization, could be a serious help for countries in critical situations like Pakistan. “The last few years, Pakistan made improvements; there is a better access to education for instance. Hopefully, the growing level of education of the population will raise the sense of personal responsibility. I hope the ones who have a chance to travel, like me, will be more concerned to apply what they have seen abroad when they are back in Pakistan”.

What do you wish for the future of Asia?
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“I hope people will communicate more with their Asian cousins. I believe communication is a crucial step forward to build links between Asians, and can be more easily achieved within an Asian community. I wish all Asians could sit and discuss their differences, without barriers. It is really important for Pakistanis to create friendships in the world, because we need to give a better image of our country. It is our responsibility when we travel. According to the current political situation in Pakistan, I think we can contribute more by living abroad. We must learn to trust and love each other, like in a big Asian family. These are the basics of a successful cooperation. I hope the construction of a more united Asia will also play a role to help Pakistanis to improve the situation in their country”.

Reporter:

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Wednesday, 21 November 2007 18:49

The little things in life

I have a good friend who is always saying “Eat well and be happy.” To which I add “Even if you aren’t able to eat well, be happy.”
I think that what my friend is trying to say by eating well to be happy is that the way to be happy is to be content with enjoying the little pleasures of life without trying to outdo others or reach for the moon. Good food is near the top of his priorities because he is a gourmet chef with a girlfriend who is a first-class pastry chef.
I add that you can be happy even without eating well, because there is more to happiness than a full stomach. I am not a chef. People don’t come to me to plan their menus, but to get other advice.
But both my friend and I agree on the reverse of that saying: “Be happy and eat well.” You can only retain and preserve your happiness by taking proper care of yourself, which means adequate nourishment as well as sufficient rest, leisure and amusement. We could also add having others to share your joy with and engagement in activities that bring a sense of achievement and self-worth.
One doesn’t have to look very far to read about unhappy people who seemingly have everything that money can buy except contentment and purpose. And there are happy people who have practically nothing but face misery and struggle with enthusiasm and courage.
The miserable rich never seem to have learned that happiness does not consist in what one accumulates, but in what one shares, a lesson that the happy poor don’t need to be taught. They appreciate so much the little they have it is natural for them to share it with others.
And one doesn’t have to look far to read about unhappy people who though blessed with every advantage of health and intelligence and potential skills squander what they have because they never discovered a purpose in life worth striving for and never had trusted friends to show them the way.
And there are the happy people who in spite of poor health, physical and mental disabilities, face life with hope and determination because they have a worthy goal and trusted friends to help them along the way.
To those who place beauty, physical perfection and normality, mobility and dexterity at the top of their lists of the ingredients for success and acceptance and who put money and good food at the top of their lists of the ingredients of happiness, the poor and the disabled are all considered to be unfortunate, unhappy losers. But to those poor and disabled, who consider that true greatness is not what others think of them nor even what they think of themselves, true happiness is not having everything, but being content with what they have and true success and happiness is not measured by how much they achieve, but depends upon the degree to which they strive to achieve the fullness of their potentials and ideals.
The really fortunate people in life are those who believe in themselves and their self-worth; have concrete goals worth striving for; have family and friends who encourage and support their efforts; have some skill or aptitude that they are able to develop and utilize; have the opportunities they need for the advancement of their goals.
On the Day of Judgment, they won’t be asked how many pounds they could lift or how much money they made but only about what they did with what they had. Even if they tried, but failed, the Judge will say “You did great”, because true greatness is not found in the success, but in the effort. One doesn’t need physical strength to be strong. True happiness is not having the whole pie, but being content with and enjoying the piece that you have.
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Here is another piece of advice by Bob

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Wednesday, 21 November 2007 18:23

Knowing yoursef and revealing yourself

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Sometimes when we look at ourselves, we only see what we want to see. We show to others only what we want them to see. The truth is that there is more to us than the way we look, and much more of us than we would like to admit even to ourselves.

A little subterfuge might be useful at times for the sake of harmony or cooperation, but if I myself am blind to my shortcomings, ignorant of how I appear to others or pay attention only to the parts of me that shine and hide from myself the parts that are dark, dusty, or unbecoming, then there is no way that I will ever know the real me or have any chance of becoming better.

I am a composite of many Selves or perhaps I should say my Self has many faces.

There is my ’Ideal Self’, the one that I would like to become, but never will, because it is too unrealistic.

There is my ’Potential Self’, the one I could become, if I were to develop my attributes and amend my shortcomings.

There is my ’Essential Self’, the one that underlies my being, containing in embryo my abilities and aptitudes, which often lie unrecognized or untouched.

There is my ’Behaving Self’, the one that keeps me engaged in activity, subject to bouts of over-exertion and laziness.

There is my ’Emotional Self’, the one with its highs and its lows, that alternately bolsters or gets in the way of my efficiency.

There is my ’Thinking Self’, the one that would tell me, if I listened, when and how to act.

There is my ’Reflecting Self’, the one that could help me, if I let it, to learn from my mistakes and improve my performance.

There is my ’CEO Executive Self’, the one that for better or worse makes the decisions that determine what I want and how to get it.

There is my ’Unbecoming Self’, the one that contains all the mistakes and misdemeanors I want to hide from others and too often end up hiding even from myself, but which others are sometimes more likely to see before I do myself.

There is my ’Projected Self’, the one that I want others to see, which is sometimes just a misleading portrait of what I wish I were and only fools strangers, because my friends can see right through it.

There is the ’Self That I Myself See’, which may or may not correspond to any of my other Selves, perhaps just a product of wishful thinking or unrealistic assessment.

Finally, there is the ’Self That Others See’, which may not be the self I wish to be.


Why is it so difficult for me to see my one and only ’True Real Self’, the one that nakedly shows what I really am today in all my glory and my ignominy, all my strengths and ambitions, all my foibles and my faults, the Self that might be more apparent to others than to myself?

Well, for one thing I am afraid of what I might find if I look too carefully. I am reluctant to undertake the trouble that would have to be exerted to make all the repairs that might be necessary. I seem to be getting along well enough the way things are and just don’t have the time or energy for an overhaul. The people that seem to count are more or less satisfied with me and those who don’t like me don’t count for much so I can afford to ignore them.

The best possible scenario would be for my ’True Real Self’ to evolve into and develop to the fullest degree the potential qualities and abilities of my ’Potential Self’. The only way to accomplish this is to concentrate on developing the aptitudes and talents that make up my ’Essential Self’ and calmly focusing on my ’Unbecoming Self’ to fix what I can of what may be leading me astray. My ’Thinking Self’ needs to begin every day with a plan of action and my ’Reflecting Self’ to end each day by asking if I accomplished what I set out to, what might have gone wrong and what to watch out for next time.

The only way a gardener can take good care of a plant so it will grow properly and reach its full stature is to nourish its roots and pull out the weeds. It is the same for us who are the gardeners of our lives. We will fail in our duty, if we are afraid to examine our own roots fearful of what we may find or we hesitate to fertilize sufficiently, prune the branches and remove the distractions.

Let the gardening begin!
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