Monday, August 11, 2008

Human excellence

The above title is taken from a theme of a program which I was invited to address last winter. The organizers had in mind a multi-religious, multi-ethnic response to issues facing the urban centers such as drug use, street violence, the message to the youth to stay in school, etc....

The program itself was nice, and attracted mainly young people, Non-Muslims as well as a few Muslim activists. Although it took place in the wintertime {Feb. 2008}, nonetheless I wanted to share some of my thoughts on the issue of 'human excellence'. I would appreciate any feedback.

It seems to me that the word 'excellence' has different meanings to different people. Too many of us have been fooled into thinking that having a stereo system is the meaning and goal of life. We have seen too many times people who are willing to waste their lives and the lives of others, including their loved ones, in the pursuit of transitory things by committing robbery, selling drugs, prostitution, and so forth.

Because of the vagueness of the theme name, I have opted to address human dignity. This is more to my understanding of the intent of the organizers. In the end, dignity is not in material things, or in the 'party life'. It is in the single mother, who despite hardships, continues to support her family. She does so without help or complaint. She elevates herself and her family through hard work, patience and consistency. She becomes an example to others, even if she does not wish this.

Education is very important, it is very difficult to operate in this world today without it. I am not just talking about formal education, but also self-education and consistent improvement. Take every oppurtunity to learn something, take advantage of the Libraries, read more. For an inspirational example, read the autobiography of Malcolm X.

There was much more that I told the audience, and occasionally I made Biblical and Quranic references. I am interested in knowing the readers views; how can we become better? What more can we do about the problems in the urban centers? What does dignity imply to you>