December 2009


 

193 of the world’s powerful and weak, big and small countries’ presidents showed up for the Copenhagen conference 2009 on Global warming. Their countries spent two weeks struggling unsuccessfully to bridge the gulf between the rich and the poor nations over who pays to fix the eminently fixable problem of global warming. They wanted a treaty that would hold the warming to a safe level (Although they could not agree on what that level was) 

For two centuries, the countries that are now “Developed” got rich by burning fossil fuels. In the process they filled the atmosphere with their greenhouse gas emissions, to the point where it now has little remaining capacity to absorb carbon dioxide without tipping us into disastrous heating. 

This means that the rapidly developing countries like China, India and Brazil will push the whole world into runaway warming if they follow the same historical path in growing their economies. Since they are relatively poor, however, they have been investing mainly in fossil fuels, just as the West did when it was struggling to industrialize. A wide variety of alternatives is now available, but only at a higher price. 

A woman listens to Barack Obama in Copenhagen

 

So how do we deal with this Global Warming issue? The developed countries must cut their emissions deeply and fast, and give the developing countries enough money to cover the extra cost of growing their economies with the clean sources of energy that they must use instead of fossil fuels. 

Why was no deal possible in the conference?  Because public opinion in the developed countries is still in denial about the fact that the final climate deal must be asymmetrical. Thats why Barack Obama couldn’t promise to cut American emissions to 20 or 25 percent below 1990 levels by 2020, as most other industrial countries were offering to do. Instead, he could only offer a paltry four percent- and he couldn’t even guarantee that. 

Al Gore at the Crime Scene

 

Distressed & disinterested delegates

 

Courtesy:  Dawn

I sometimes wonder why some people are more susceptible to hardships than others. Why some are more prone to fall victims of misfortunes. Why someone’s life is made so hard on him/her than others that the going gets tough and the tough gets going. And the string of misfortunes  in one’s life sometimes seems not to cease only to prosper. My maid is an orphan, poor without a home,  illiterate, divorced by a drug addict & abusive husband, and has a child who is crippled by polio.

Couldn’t God be a wee bit generous while distributing his blessings to her? Or is it a coincident that she wound up in  unfortunate circumstance. Did she do something awful to deserve such bashing?  Would she be able to turn the things around for her?

He was 73 and he was marrying a 45 years old woman. I’m not making a case against his age and that he was getting married. What irked me was that he had recently divorced his first wife of 30 years who he had married twice, intermittently though. You got it! They divorced, his ex-wife married again in order to get married to him again (This is called Halala in Islamic Sharia, according to which, to remarry a divorced wife, the man has to wait until the wife marries another man and gets divorced again) Don’t get it? My head begins to spin even after having witnessed it. He is my father’s old friend, who obviously had willingly let go of his loyal and “hardly earned” wife of 30 years, a thirty something old son, a doctor by profession daughter in law and a tiny three years old grandson. Quite as everyone had expected, they had declared that they never wanted to have to do anything with him in the future and the old man could not bother any less. He wore a branded sherwani (A formal wedding dress for grooms) and even got his facial done a day before the “Big day”. He wanted to enjoy this occasion to the fullest and he had made it quite clear. What had evoked this abberent behaviour in him? “Pursuit of happiness” He said. He had decided to move on with his life for the pursuit of happiness and he was not willing to stop, not for his cute little grandson who he knew he would probably never see in his life again. He was willing to let go of him. He thought he had seen enough distress in his earlier relationship and he could not take any more. He wanted to start afresh with what was left of his life. And this is not the notoriously wayward generation of ours that we are talking about. He belongs to a much more conventional and faithful generation so to speak, when it comes to upholding and respecting marriages and relationships. He represents old values of a century which uphold the sanctity of marriage through thick and thin. True he would be an anomaly in his generation. But if he were from this generation of our time, he would neither be an outcast nor an anomaly. The so-called traditional morals and values of almost 80 years ago, seem to be sinking into an inevitability of modernism and might not make it beyond a decade or two at the most.

“Divorces happen! It’s not a big deal! Life goes on. If you think you are unsuitable for each other, part your way. It is better than making everyday hard on your self. Life is too short, enjoyable and full of opportunities and exciting challenges than struggling in an undesirable marriage. ” is what young boys and girls are found saying in response to the rising divorce figures. Break ups and divorces should have been happening since decades but never so often. Although there are almost no statistics available to find out divorce rate in Pakistan to my surprise, however the quite frequent marriage break ups in my friends, colleagues, acquaintances and relatives confirm the scenario turning from bad to worse. Also the rising divorce trend seems to be more prevalent in Punjab (The most urban province) and Sindh (The second urban province after Punjab) than in other two provinces of Pakistan. Or perhaps the divorces are not registered there due to the social stigma attached to it, could be more likely the case.

A look at Worldwide Divorce Statistics shows that United States is among the countries having the highest divorce rate in the world. 1 in every 4 marriages in US ends in divorce. The current divorce rate in US runs in above 4 percent. The possible reasons perceived by the experts for the ever-increasing rate of divorce in the US could be, disoriented religious beliefs, stress on individualism, the ‘pursuit of unitary happiness’, secularization of the state and society, increased labour force participation of women, the ensuing female economic independence and even the feminist movement have been blamed. Immature reasons to get married in haste, non tolerance or non compromise in marriage, and public opinion in favour of divorce can also make to the list. US society has witnessed all these social complications since many years.

Not only in US but in UK and all over Europe, divorce rates are on the constant rise. The factors contributing to this are the same as those responsible for high Divorce Rate in the US.

However, it would be misleading to compare factors leading to marital dissolution  in the West with the reasons responsible for marriage disruption in other parts of the world. Certainly, divorce and other such family matters anywhere in the world are influenced by cultures, religious beliefs,  circumstances and intensely personal factors and cannot be simplistically correlated in aggregate analysis.

Some marriages can not or should not be saved. In cases of continued abuse, alcoholism, unrelenting greed in the name of dowry (pre & post marriage) repeated infidelity, or chronic unhappiness, divorce can be a healthy move for the spouses. Sometimes unfortunate conditions like crippling or impotency of spouses after the marriage might challenge it (More so in present generations than the old ones, where “Till death do us part” literally held true). There are other factors which are not very significant in my perception but sometimes result  in marriages termination. Some contributory factors, identified by the experts on subject, are petty arguments, financial woes due to unemployment, ‘egotistical issues’, low levels of literacy, early age at the time of marriage and frequent fracas with the in-laws. More and more experts are attributing the high divorce rate to the change in socio-economic demographics in Pakistan. Rapid urbanisation, nuclear households, increasing literacy and labour force participation of women , a rise in overall marriageable age  and decreasing fertility,  have been correlated to divorce by demographics.

But do lives get better when people get divorced? Do things improve when bad marriages are flushed down the drain for good? Shouldn’t everyone be allowed their own pursuit of unitary happiness? Or is there a higher ground and a higher meaning in togetherness and marital camaraderie even if it doesn’t always mean harmony and perfect companionship among couples? 

The justification to end troubled relationships by those who decide to end them, is invariably quoted as ridding one self of unhappy circumstances and regaining his/her happiness back. If this should hold true then US should be the happiest place on earth.

But it is not!

I would want couples to do everything possible to work things out before deciding to call off a relationship. Divorce still entails much pain and anger that affects the children in significant, long-lasting and mostly negative ways.

Marriage is an institution that needs a lot of tolerance, compromise, and ego & anger management and sometimes sacrifices to nurture a family and foster a strong and durable relation between a couple. It is not always a joy ride as is most commonly conceived. This is not to say that happy marriages don’t exist. It is simply to point out that no marriage is perfectly blissful every day, week, month, and year. Happy marriages take work and commitment.

I believe the problem should be attacked at the grass root level. Parents can  inculcate patience & respect for relations in their children since childhood. A kind and just upbringing of both genders in an educated background  in the house can be just the answer to this problem in a Middle Class educated family (An estimated 35 million) Upper class and Upper Middle Class (About 17 million by 2010). However the increasing number of broken marriages in higher class indicates a disturbing trend. Perhaps we can term the same factors causing broken relationships in west and europe, causing an increased number of divorces in Upper class of Pakistan. The reason is that we can almost draw a parallel between the western culture and the lifestyle of our Rich. Interestingly, our poor & Illiterate class seems to have higher number of disrupted marriages in my view. Again I can only assume on the basis of my observation in the absence of any data indicating Divorce rate on the basis of classes, literacy or poverty rate.

In both our religion and culture, the values of togetherness and marital camaraderie hold greater meaning and significance than broken lives and deserted homes.

The other day i had to fill out a form at a government office. Under the occupation field, the only applicable option in my case was “Housewife” or as i call it sarcastically “The wife of the house” I think its time we should ponder over changing this term and opting for something more sensible and logical.

It accentuates House more than the Man she is married to. I know House and Husband go hand in hand in most cases and the woman can not let any of the two stay ignored, specially in a conventionally Pakistani and asian set up. For example all the men want their houses to be clean and well managed when they come back from work. And if i may divert from the subject for a while, also if the woman finds it hard to do everything alone, it is the duty of the man to get helper for her, if he can afford. Some women get so obsessed with the houses (Cleaning, maintaining & beautifying) that their husbands and kids start suffering. Likewise some men turn the lives of their wives into livinghell because they want certain things to be done in certain ways in the house. Coming to the point,  the house is still very much in focus off course and an essential part of a matrimonial life that can not be ignored at any time but it is not the structure of bricks and sand that the woman marries. She marries a man made of flesh and blood and ideally the one possessing a caring heart and a kind and just conscience.

Both husband and wife make a House together with mutual respect and understanding. It is their relationship nurtured with respect, understanding of eachother and love that builds the house. Although most of the managing responsibilities of the house lie on the woman that sometime wrongly make us associate the woman to the house more than the man, and also because the earning responsiblities primarily lie on the man that require him to spend considerable time outside the house, however “Housewife” is a pretty lame term. Under this context the status of the man should be “Workhusband”

If we take the role of the man and the woman in a marriage into account then none of them can be given more priority than the other. Although women are not rewarded in monetory terms for working around the house and raising their kids and in the absence of a price tag on their services, their hardwork in hardly acknowleged. But this does not mean they work any lesser than men; or their services less valuable than men.

I propose the term “Housemakers” for women staying home.

Why is that americans feel supirior about Hollywood and their movies. Hollywood invariably, is the king of Cinema for decades now. And rightly so, aprat from some run-off-the-mill, some substandardly sexed up  chick flicks and numerous nausiatically gory movies, that everytime make me question the unnecessory killing spree of some lunatics, that they churn out every year, they have some oustandingly brilliant movies on their credit too.

As a saying goes “Money makes the mere go” Hollywood draws some brilliant artists every year and since long. NicoleI kidman had to go to Hollywood to be famous,Antonio Bandaras, Aishwarya Rai(Originally an indian), Salma Hayek, so many britsh actors, europeans, chinesse, jewish you name any nationality. So why did these actors chose to leave their local cinema and grab any substandard Hollywood opportunity that came in their way? Why is it every actor’s dream to be part of a Hollywood film. Because the reward is great in terms of money, fame and future prospects. And i also believe that people in Hollywood have worked hard on not only their movies but also its distribution and availability.

I also believe that a faithful viewer base, people like us, have made Hollywood a big name too. We religiously watch all the latest Hollywood movies by hook or by crook (Pirated versions). Although im sure there are great European, Iranian, Indian movies out there. Why do we do that?? Beacuse American movies are projected with great pomp and show through out the world.

We not only know which movies are playing in american theatres but also which ones are on the way. To top it all, American media leaves no stones unturned to make sure their movies and celebrities remain in limelight throughout the world. The bigger than life images of their artists, ruthelessly and flawlessly projected by American media and their ostentatious life styles draw the viewers towards theatres. Any other cinema will need tremendous resourses to reach that level of achievement.

War on terror in Afghanistan and the one ensuing in tribal areas of Pakistan bordering Afghanistan, North Waziristan and possibly South in ther near future, has not only seen their industrial and economic infrastructure destroyed, Afghanistan has lost nearly three quarters of a million people in the invasion and ensuing sectarian and ethnic strife. In Pakistan the resulting suicide bombing has turned the lives of its dwellers into a living hell. To this must be added the tragic death of four thousand Americans and nearly three trillion dollars going waste in a futile venture.
Veteran British journalist Robert Fisk recently pointed out that there were currently 22 times as many western troops in the Muslim world as there were during the crusades and asks why the Americans and the British are there. Is it for oil, or democracy, or defence of Israel or for fear of weapons of mass destruction or the fear of Islam? He then foresees the US ‘losing’ Afghanistan and Pakistan, just as it has lost Iraq.

He warns: “It is our presence, our power, our arrogance, our refusal to learn from history and our terror of Islam that is leading us into an abyss. And until we learn to leave these Muslim people alone, our catastrophe in the Middle East will only become graver. There is no connection between Islam and terror. But there is a connection between our occupation of Muslim lands and terror.”

I hate myself for being ungrateful to Allah after all He has given me. I consider it a big offense to Him and it indeed is. Then why can’t i stop being human and shut my mind of those sinful thoughts. Am i waiting to be hit by a misfortune, recover after pleading Him and then be grateful again?

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