Nor say of anything, “I shall be sure to do so and so tomorrow,” without adding, so please Allah!” And call thy Lord to mind when thou forgetest, and say, “I hope that my Lord will guide me ever closer (even) than this to the right road.” – Surah 18: 23, Al-Khaf (The Cave)
Why I like it? I can’t pinpoint one thing. Maybe it’s the comfort of knowing that God protects his own, or that He lovingly guides us to the best path/situation. Perhaps I find it amusing that what seems an eternity for us humans is mere seconds in the sight of the Divine, I’ve always found the concept of time quite fascinating. Or maybe how humbling it is when you consider the fact that our furthest reaches of wisdom is mere child’s play to God. Either way, I think the essence of this particular verse is undeniable. By virtue of our humanness, we are inherently flawed. Unlike the all-knowing our perceptions of situations are usually limited to personal experiences and hearsay (that includes what people have told us, what we’ve read, think we’ve seen and so on) I’m sure we’ve all had one or two experiences when we thought we had something figured out to the final dotted i, only to find we know absolutely nothing. If you’ve never had such an experience, prepare yourself for Humility 101. LOL.
So, if all the above is just and true, pray tell me how we ever expected our so called economic systems – which, by the way, are founded primarily on the principles of profit making- to deal with the inequalities and poverty that mars every society, and leave everyone happy? All things being equal, thats simply impossible. The recent downgrade of the US credit rating, the deepening global economic crisis which is quickly spreading to other so called economic powers (Italy & Spain), and perhaps especially, the riots from Egypt to Senegal, to Malawi and now to London, UK, all call for a rethink of a lot of things, including how we’ve been doing business. I think this is a huge lesson to African governments especially. How long will we dance to the tune of what the West calls good policymaking or development, when, evidently, its not working for them either? Oops, someone must have missed that particular memo. How is it that Somalia’s famine, which has been around for over a decade could possibly get worse when every night international corporations like MacDonalds throw out tons of food? Or that education should see stringent cuts while large businesses get tax breaks? With all due respect, it seems we’ve done a good job of showing just how limited our perceptions of life are.
Sure, the economist in me gets it. It’s a typical case of cause and effect. We spent more than a penny on non -rainy days and as the forces of economics would have it, it’s the developing markets that will feel the pinch. However, on a simple human level, its all meaningless. To what profiteth the world if it looseth it’s humanity? That inherent urge to be one another’s keeper and practice the Golden Rule? Are we so far into modernity, development and what not that we lose our very essence: love? I hope not. The great leaders of our time always claim to have solutions for how to strategically tackle so and so issue. But let’s be honest, nobody knows jack. It’s all trial and error, no two days are the same, and considering none – or rather most- of us were not around for the Great Depression and so on, how sure are we that whats written in the so-called history books is true?
Jemila Abdulai is the creative director, editor and founder of the award-winning website Circumspecte.com. A media and international development professional and economist by training, she combines her business, communications and project management expertise with her strong passion for Africa. Besides writing and reading, she enjoys travel, global cuisine, movies, and good design.