Thursday, September 25, 2008

Sanctity of the Dead

Growing up in a conservative setting, I inherited teachings of respect for the environment and life on the whole. If respect is given it shall in turn be received. The miracle of life still amazes the best of us and to respect this miracle was of high importance. We know the joy of bringing a baby into this world and we also know the grief of losing loved ones. Birth and death are aspects of life we accept and its consequences we accommodate. In a different scenario, what if it was not as straight forward to accept?

What if the dead became object and not person?

The scent of formaldehyde snaked through the air as I prodded a preserved, discoloured liver with forceps under the light of bright fluorescent bulbs in a student populated laboratory. At the far corner, the laboratory assistant gave out the ever “limited” supply of surgical gloves. Today yet again we would be confined to the use of one hand as it was one glove per person. As the professor surveyed the room of noisy chattering he explained that the “specimens” were disinfected and we should adopt from now, a more hands on approach.

The assistant was reaching nowhere fast and the professor was just upon our heels to oversee what we were viewing, so with a deep breath I pressed my fingers in. Cold and hard to the initial touch and then with great ease I found myself turning the organ to view the various lobes. Finding the ligamentum teres hepatis was a cause for rejoice and brief smiling until the thought of what I held in my hands further sank in.

I would always be anxious to tell my siblings what I had done and seen but now the stories seemed to shrivel and I no longer shared the passing of my day. These old cadavers that lined the anatomy room seemed like paintings on the wall, their place befitted the setting. My mind always remained estranged with the thought of there was once life in these beings just as I am.

We were told that the bodies were donated for the cause of learning and we should appreciate the sacrifice made by others for the benefit of life on the whole. If the body lived after dying then this would certainly be the closest it came in modern day society. Something so personal and guarded was left open on a bare metal tray in a “human icebox”. Was it vulgar and cruel or just too much thought into something inanimate and lifeless? We define serial killers who mutilate their victims as monstrous and we remain virtuous in our search for knowledge at others expense.

For my brief encounters, every time I felt the hint of a giggle or the thought of frivolity and idle blabber my conscience grew heavy and emotion would cease for a period. This course would certainly test our professionalism in training ourselves to remain objective on what was most definitely subjective.

We always justify before giving true thought, in the name of learning and progression these are the bitter sweet tools of the trade. In order to mesh my thought with reality I always place myself in the shoes that have been chosen to fit the roles. Would you consider this your dying wish for an unseen number of strangers to explore what you had chosen to keep private whilst you were alive? Many can argue the fact that the body remains physical and it bares no real resemblance to the one whom it lent its grace to. However, it still remains a mystery how some people after successful heart transplants have adopted similar practices of their donors. It is even seen in the survivors of the donor who feel an unreasonable and natural affection for the person to whom the heart was given to.

How many of these cadavers were actually donated knowing what their life beyond death actions truly entailed? If God forbid one of us were to die now, we would never picture that our last rites were not carried out and instead our bodies were preserved and strung out to be displayed and explored. I am in no way against progression and I see reason in having practical experience but until they remain as paintings on the wall I cannot feel at ease in violating the sanctity of the dead.

Thus with a taste of wonder, a hint of dissatisfaction, a choice of confession and a sprinkle of acceptance I begin my journey for knowledge.

Blogging with purpose,

Monday, September 15, 2008

Ongoing Struggle

I add another poem to be read,
Words written as conscience was fed,
Contemplative thought was bred,
When all has been said,
Comment if you so choose,
To add to a poet’s amuse,
Gratitude is what I offer to thee
Penned by yours truly

Ongoing Struggle

Vision blurred in the fallen darkness,
Forever contemplating in this solitary abyss,
Inevitably sensing the world is terribly amiss,
As the devils continue to deliver their death kiss,
My screams fall upon deafened ears,
Distant eyes echo my growing fears,
Oblivious to the burning tears,
Flowing with all my hopes, dreams and cares,
Mocking pretenders plague this land,
Traitors laugh as I humbly stand,
My future an open book in God’s hand,
Their hearts sealed unable to understand,
From the innocence of the honest they plunder,
Sworn to cast us asunder,
Leaving the broken heart to wonder,
Breaking under the forces that thunder,
Keeping the faith, I will never surrender,
Desperately hoping for the arrival of a defender,
To survive the onslaught of the present,
In a time where justice is absent,
Patient throughout every torment,
Forgive my transgressions ever so prevalent,
With remorseful tears I sincerely repent,
Fragile faith forever penitent,
In dire need of a guiding light,
Wishing the sun would rise over this morbid night,
Barren hearts ignorant to my plight,
Ongoing battle forever testing one’s might,
To the last drop of blood I fight,
Bestow upon me all that is right,
Barriers removed revealing true sight,
Our blood is one, together we unite,
Will the deaf ever hear my plead?
Everywhere rampant destruction plants its seed,
All are victims of materialistic greed,
Exploiting this vulnerable creed,
Resulting in deprivation of those truly in need,
The call to the faithful unwilling to heed,
Falsely appointing the blind to lead,
Recurring wounds continue to bleed,
On fickle minds, the wicked feed,
Deeds stink with lustful intention,
Its foul stench devours any good action,
Systematically destroying any chance for salvation,
The game of guilt sets fire to any sacred emotion,
Relinquish the evil, a deliverance from temptation,
Seeking the peace to silence our frustration,
An enemy disguised as the soul’s mate,
Feverishly feeding on revengeful hate,
Man is responsible for their present state,
Hope lost but seldom too late,
Rekindle the flame of the lost faith,
The end to our inner struggles we await,
Only with shahadah on our lips may we breathe our ultimate.


Blogging with purpose,

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Learning Self-Restraint

“O ye who believe! Fasting is prescribed to you as it was prescribed to those before you, that ye may (learn) self-restraint.” ~ Qur’an (2:183)

In a life full of choices, two paths are distinguished from the others. These paths are literally defined by our actions and are a direct result of our beliefs. We associate actions of kindness and good-will as tenants of the righteous path and those of destruction and chaos as inroads to the path of evil-doing. Life presents to us numerous decisions with every breath we take, decisions whose consequences can be short-lived or instrumental throughout our lives.

In the hope of gaining eternal bliss, the average individual actively walks on the path of righteousness though faltering at times. We execute efforts to shun degrading actions that damage ours as well as others physical and emotional psyche. To materialise this in our conscience, we can think of the effect of an extra-marital affair on the married couple, on the “lover”, on the family and on the community and society as a whole. Thus it is only natural that many religious scriptures admonish adultery and all forms of it. No sane person can argue the fact that this action erodes the very fabric that supports sustainable life i.e. the family unit. The family is centred on building and so the choice of pleasure over faithfulness can never build but only destroy.

We can now appreciate why many of us choose a life of abstinence from such destructive actions as there is no true upliftment in degradation. In theory all that was said sounds achievable yet we live in crime-stricken societies that have broken away from the teachings of good-will. In reality many challenges exist that camouflage what was once just a simple choice of choosing good or bad. The line between good and bad merges and disappears with various degrees of compromise and so we can no longer distinguish what was good or bad and if good and bad even exists.

Many of us become lost at various junctions in our life where wrong becomes desirable and good becomes penance. We find it increasingly hard to choose good over bad and temptations toy with our emotions. As the world continues in this trend our conscience becomes ambushed with guilt and regret. The person who has relatively no choice but to passivley accept and does so in the fear of reprimand still has to learn the most fundamental teaching of exercising right over wrong. The only way to display true self-restraint is to actively choose to do good in the presence of choice and temptation.

Restraint never ruins one's health. What ruins it, is not restraint but outward suppression. A really self-restrained person grows every day from strength to strength and from peace to more peace. The very first step in self-restraint is the restraint of thoughts.” ~ Mohandas Gandhi

As I uphold this month of fasting it becomes evident to me the small victory of self sacrifice and its consequent feelings of satisfaction and fulfilment. It is a training ground for self-restraint culturing us to choose with greater prudence. If one can learn to abstain from something as basic as eating for a set period of time, imagine the effect self-restraint would have on a person’s choices. Some of the veils clouding our judgement would certainly be removed if we can see reason in abstinence and make a conscious effort to practice it.

It is completely in my opinion that if we were to practice more self-restraint then the world would definitely be a better place to live in.

“Grant that I may become beautiful in my soul within, and that all my external possessions may be in harmony with my inner self. May I consider the wise to be rich, and may I have such riches as only a person of self-restraint can bear or endure.” ~ Plato

Blogging with purpose,