“Young people are the most important stakeholders when talking about our global future. These are the people who have the most innovative ideas and energy to build a better society for tomorrow. We should move away from a narrative of production and consumption to one of sharing and caring. Young people are best placed to lead this change. Let’s give them that opportunity” (Klaus Schwab, Executive Chairman of World Economic Forum).
“Young people are our future” is an oft-repeated cliché, but perhaps least appreciated. It’s good to see Mr Schwab giving young people the centre stage they deserve. For me, the most important two words in his comment are ‘sharing and caring’. With the climate crisis set to wreak havoc in the coming years, this open plea for a change from a giant economist is significant. It’s an open admission that the old-world order is failing. His call to a moral-world order is a fresh breath of air at a time when down-under is still smouldering after the bush fires. This order required continuous economic growth, usurping mother earth’s resources relentlessly, spinning the industrial wheel faster and faster at any cost and the mindless, excessive use of fossil fuels. Schwab’s recommendation is contrary to the existing model. Will the captains of industry, political leaders and the world elite accept this?
I am sure adopting ‘sharing and caring’ as a policy to conduct our lives is wise and strikes chords with all believers, but who will embrace it? Beck Dorey-Stein former president Obama’s stenographer was asked, “what’s the most valuable lesson you learnt in the White House?” She said, “care for people”. It’s funny because it’s the epicentre of power, but it’s the same lesson you learn when you’re in nursery.
What is your view of the worldly life?
How can we get ourselves to accept the fleeting reality of life? So we can avoid its temptations, and prepare ourselves to share and care? Can we slow down? Reduce our material needs? How do we face this reality? The first step is to recognise the ephemeral, fleeting and transient nature of our life. Its to accept the fact that ‘man does not live by bread alone.’ Human’s have moral, emotional and spiritual needs too. Are we prepared to stop and think? Will we accept this reality? The Prophet of Islam used to pray in these words:
“O Lord! show me the truth as it is, and give me the ability to accept it, and show me falsehood as it is and help me to reject it”.Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him)
We are deeply immersed in the world, lost in its pleasures and caught up in its glamour. Can we escape it? Only an electric shock; or an earthquake of massive magnitude can whisk us from ‘Disneyland’. We need to listen to some spiritual truths. Here is a lesson the beloved Prophet (peace be upon him) taught a young aspiring man. Abdullah Ibn Umar narrated the messenger of God (peace be upon him) laid his blessed hands on my shoulders and looked me in the eyes, and gently said:
“Live in the world like a foreigner or like the traveller and count yourself amongst the people of the Grave”Tirmidhi
What can we learn about caring and sharing here? The believer is likened to a foreigner, a foreigner doesn’t live in his home country, the place of birth, he is far away. He is remote, distant, in a far-flung land, an alien, a stranger, where no one knows him. So, he longs for his home, eager to return. He’s missing his loved ones, wife and children. He’s a foreigner, so he prepares his provisions for his return journey. Likewise, our provisions for the hereafter will stem from serving those who we care for. This mindset can make it easy to discard attachments, assumptions and possessions. You’ll live simply with a light mind as you rid yourself of the baggage that weighs you down. It’s amazing how refreshed you’ll feel, less to worry about and much less cluttered homes.
The second simile for a believer’s worldly life is the traveller on a long journey, lonely with treacherous paths. There are hardships; hunger, thirst, sleepless nights and the danger of robbers. In these circumstances, we need to remain resolute in our aim to be caring and able to share with others in need.
Finally, the Prophet (peace be upon him) reminds Abdullah ‘to count yourself among the people of the Grave’. Just like those in the grave, they have no hope of ever coming out, similarly, the righteous person loses long hopes and considers himself among the dead. “Die before death comes” is famously attributed to Umar, the companion. The relationship between your mind and body is like the stalk and the flower. If you nurture a simple mindset, your body will adopt that attitude, if you are careful about what you eat and drink, your body will become healthier and strong. The Prophet of ‘kindness’ (peace be upon him) is telling us to adopt a lifestyle of simplicity. This is what will develop an attitude of sharing and caring.
With so many temptations and whirling pleasures you make Allah your refuge, the Protector, the Guardian. Aware that He is ever watchful over you. When you are facing the danger of temptations, fall into prostration and pray “My Lord! Harm, pain and loss has struck, only you are the Most Kind.” Have faith that He will protect you everywhere. He declares:
“If my servant asks you about Me, tell them I am near, I answer the prayer of the prayerful whenever he prays to Me. So, let them obey Me, and let them believe in Me so they may be guided”Al-Baqarah: 186
So, young people are our future, so how can we support them to adopt this ‘sharing and caring’ attitude? Here I have tried to remind myself and you that your life is temporary. We will be held to account for what we did. Spiritual leaders should make you stop, ponder and ask, “where are you going?”. Ask you “are you heading in the right direction?” Yes, let’s practise ‘sharing and caring.’