Do Your Work

‘Injustices’ have been happening since man first began measuring time. This is simply the result of a conflict between our ideas of what should be and the nature of what truly is. This is why we are so appalled each time we hear of unnatural or premature deaths. We find it difficult to mentally reconcile freak occurences because we like to believe in underlying order, cause and effect, cosmic determinism, and so on. But the hard truth is that shit happens, and it will continue to do so. What’s left then is how we deal with it. 

And we have to deal with an inordinate amount of shit over here. Bombs, suicide attacks, ethnic, religious, cultural, class-based strifes, corruption, chaos, bitterness, fear, apathy, greed, etc. Anything that isn’t directly a part of our lives is pushed in our faces by the ever vigilant media outlets, whose sole purpose seems to be to make us feel bad. For the most part they are successful. The past couple of decades have been rough, because the free flow of information has fully revealed to us what a quagmire we are really in. It used to be easier to ignore problems in the days of PTV and printed newspapers, and we could go about with our hedonistic lives in comfort. Nowadays all the crap that we’ve piled upon ourselves is inescapable.

It has now come to a point where we are exposed to such unspeakable, unjustifiable, unacceptable daily occurrences that we have to take notice. One can’t sit still anymore, one has to speak out or take action against the evil that one sees. This is basic human nature. The problem is that our ‘speaking out and taking action’ is almost entirely useless.

The internet is partially to blame; it has made it too easy to be lazily compassionate. We’ll put up Facebook status updates of indignation, share pictures of bloody kids out of context, get on Express Tribune blog posts and write long-winded hate comments.

And if that’s not enough, we’ll blame each other for the atrocities that we see: upper class blames the poor, conservatives blame liberals, populists blame the government, Shias blame Sunnis, Muslims blame minorities, and when all else fails, we’ll blame the unseen, unheard forces beyond our control: the fahaash, evil empire of the West.

And then we can breathe easy. Because we’ve sort of rationalized the evil, deflected it out of our lives, put it in a neat little box, washed our hands of any responsibility. All that evil goes back to being disconnected images playing out on our television sets. It isn’t our problem anymore, we’ve done our part. We’ve talked.

But this attitude is fucking us up pretty bad.

Evil exists. It will always exist. But that doesn’t mean that we should sit around and mope and whine and talk about it. All that we can do is accept it, and then take action despite it. Talking about the evil helps no one. Pointing fingers helps no one. The only way to blot it out is through action.

Here is an alternative way of looking at it. This is going to sound a bit strange at first but bear with me:

Evil is an essential force in this world. 

Everything in the universe is relative. Everything exists in contrast to something else. Tall is tall because it is compared to short. And good can come into being only when there is evil to compare it to.

Deep down we know this. But it seems like the message has been lost of late.

If all we can do is sit around and talk, evil wins. If we let it affect our reality, and we get sad and mopey because of events we hear about that don’t directly concern us, evil wins.

The only way that evil doesn’t win is to do your work regardless. Acknowledge evil is there, and be a force of good against it. Less talk, more action.

If you think talking about it will make it go away, you are useless. You are nothing more than a commentator, a reminder of the problem. You are not part of the solution. It isn’t enough to simply voice your opinion.

But then what is enough? There are so many problems, there is so much madness, there are so many issues to deal with. What can one person possibly do?!

Simply this: do your work. Do that which is unique to you, do it with all the love and energy and good that you can do it with. Push forward in spite of the evil around you.

Remember that one story in a thousand that you hear about, which actually warms your heart instead of making you feel bad? Be that story in your own unique way.

The reason we love Edhi is because he did exactly this. He saw the evil around him, he acknowledged it, and then he became a force of good against it. He started small, much smaller than the evil around him, but he did not falter, and he did not stop. And he has done more than a thousand men combined. 

Now he is revered, and rightly so. But instead of learning from him and using him as a role model, all we seem to be worried about is why the West doesn’t love him as much as we do. All we can muster up is more commentary.

Tribute sketch I made for the great man a while back

Tribute sketch I made for the great man a while back

Do your work. Don’t pay attention to what doesn’t concern you. Your faux compassion for the victims of FATA drone strikes is utterly insignificant. Your Facebook statuses of indignation change absolutely nothing. Your feeling bad because evil exists is a selfish feeling borne more of guilt than compassion. Just do your work, contribute however you can, devote yourself to your trade, craft, passion, or faith, and carry your own torch as far as you can against the darkness. 

I am working towards making contributions in my own small way. I’m teaching kids in Abbotabad Engineering coursework from MIT’s curriculum (and they are doing very well). I’m participating in campaigns for NGO’s, trying to use my artwork to forward a positive message. I’m in the process of launching a Tshirt brand which is geared towards embracing our quirky, silly sense of nationalism. Because levity and laughter are essential; evil does not like these forces since they are stronger than it. And I’m working on a couple of art exhibitions which will promote a slightly different narrative than the norm. 

None of these sound like revolutionary steps. They aren’t. They are simply what I want to do at the present, how I best think my individual talents can be used over here. And that is all any of us should aim to do. Use our individual talents to contribute in our individual ways. Less talk, more work.

This may sound like airy fairy bullshit to some of you, and so be it. You needn’t come back to this blog again. But if you agree, go out and do likewise. Be the change you want to see, rather than just talking about it. It kills me to see the commentary, in person and especially in the Comments section of various publications. Especially since people think they are actually helping.

You aren’t. Talk is essentially useless. Just do your work.

5 thoughts on “Do Your Work

  1. When we Stop thinking in a way that relates to life story ,as you are so brilliantly doing . One understands one can’t be good in ones own mind and not harbor anger, the only way one can see oneself as being good is by judging oneself against others. A person becomes in tune by removing all that is discordant in there life, that includes the persona itself, because it is fake. It can be changed at any time to suit ones mood or endeavor, when we live with out it in the courage of nothing. we are free . We listen to our Hearts. and you certainly speak from yours.

    Great post

    • Thank you. I agree, it is very liberating to be unhinged, the process is still ongoing (perhaps it’ll remain thus for life), and I’m quite curious to see where it takes me. Glad you enjoyed the post =)

  2. Hi Omar…I have to say, I randomly found my way to your blog and am really enjoying reading these essays. About your sketching; amazing stuff. Well you always had that gift since the ILM days.

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