Looking Down From Above

I’m still figuring out how to manage multiple blogs (and I’m starting to think it may not be the best idea right now)… BUT anyway, this was an entry I had written in one of my other blogs that I wanted to share (and perhaps get some feedback and other perspectives on).

http://rediscoveringredemption.wordpress.com/2010/11/01/looking-down-from-above/

So we just came back from a lovely vacation in the beautiful Dominican Republic.  We rented a villa on top of a mountain in Puerto Plata and it was ….breathtaking to say the least.  The epitome of serenity and beauty.  My words, nor any picture, can do it justice.  Masha Allah.  In many ways, it reminded me of how much contentment can be garnered from admiring Allah’s creation and how little time I spend doing it.

On the flip side, as we drove to the airport, we passed through the streets of Puerto Plata.  It wasn’t anywhere near as clean, or as charming as the view we’d previously admired.  The poverty was obvious.  The streets were worn, some of the storefronts looked like shacks.  The hustle and bustle had an old world charm, but it was a different world all together.  We’d just gone from the world of the “haves” to that of the “have-nots”.

It made me think of how, from an elevated place (both physically and metaphorically), that imperfections may elude anyone looking down.  There may be this delusion that problems don’t exist because…they can’t be seen.   It’s a sanitized version of the world.  And for a vacation – that’s exactly what one is generally looking for.   But for life – there are so many dangerous implications to not being aware of the hardships of other….of basic things we may be blessed with that others can only dream of  – clean water, a decent home, easy access to quality medical care, safe transportation, even HAVING transportation.  I met a woman once, in our blessed country, that put off getting a consult from a recommended specialist, for her son who had some serious orthopedic issues, because she did not have the bus fare (forget cab fare – that’s a luxury) to get there.   This doctor was 20, maybe 25 minutes away.  Imagine that kind of poverty, and this is in a first world country.  Now translate that to a third world nation, where the rich are few and the lower middle class and poor are plenty, and imagine the daily struggles they endure.  We can’t. I can’t.  I would NEVER have even thought of transportation as an issue until I had seen someone not have access to it.  I have my own car.  I run my errands at my leisure. I can keep my kids warm when the weather is cold, and protect them from the rain when it’s pouring out.  I don’t to have to carry my groceries on my back in inclement weather.   And it never occurred to me that these might be problems…obstacles for others trying to fulfill OTHER basic needs. Subhan Allah.

I think it was Marie Antoinette who said “let them eat cake” when someone had mentioned to her that her subjects were starving and had no bread.  They are people with needs that need to be met, and those in a greater station in life and in society have a social responsibility to be aware of these needs – and to address them the best that they can, and to understand the social and societal ramifications of NOT addressing and in some cases, even acknowledging, those unmet needs.  It’s interesting because while on this trip, a couple who we’re good friends with joined us, and I was having a discussion with my friend about the distribution of wealth, from an Islamic perspective.   There are rich, and there are poor, but each person is blessed with their own arzaa’ (or rizq meaning blessings), not just with regard to money, but with everything.  But our focus was on money in this particular conversation.  We forget sometimes that Allah (swt) may have blessed someone with wealth…and part of that wealth is their own, and part of it is the rizq of someone else, that just HAPPENS to be entrusted to that person.  It’s that person’s responsibility to distribute it.  To be conscious that wealth isn’t just for leisure and luxury.  That in neglecting that duty, they may be denying someone else of what is due them – their right Islamically.  It’s so interesting because we think of our wealth as…ours.  “I worked hard for this, it’s my right to do with it as I please.”  But in reality, it’s Allah (swt) who gave you this wealth.  The means to get educated, the intelligence, the health, the charm, the physical ability, the HR rep who agreed to hire you…that wasn’t you.  It blows my mind when I think about it because I feel guilt for all the waste that I know I alone am responsible for.

But alas – looking down from above – everything seems so perfect.   I guess it’s easy to understand why someone might not want to tamper with that illusion – it sits heavy on the soul.

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