How to Save the World?

Before we go into this, I just want to say that the proper way to save the world is not what most people believe. The foolish and somewhat narcissistic approach adopted by inspirational movies and comic books portray an incredibly impractical and unrealistic concept of saving the world. From Mr. Robot who sent out the world’s biggest hack attempting to rid the world of debt to the over-powered Superman who suffered the might of a trillion suns blasted at his face trying to protect one measly planet, we have always had the wrong concept of trying to save the world. Because none of us really know what it means to actually “save” the world we live in.

Bertrand Zobrist once said, “The first step to solving a problem is recognizing there is one.” The ancients have always argued on what the biggest sin in the world is. While this matter is still under heavy debate, one thing on which they all agree on is that: “The darkest places in hell are reserved for those people who maintain their neutrality in times of crisis.” I shall try to avoid any complications in this topic. Hopefully some wise soul will stumble across this and it might help them develop a mindset which could help them steer their way through the harshness of life.

Simply put there are two ways to save the world:

  1. Fear
  2. Love

Let’s head over to the first way – FEAR

Fear of somebody or fear of something – this is what a leader might induce in his people so that they would fear him. They would fear what would happen to them if they did something bad. If someone would steal something, whether it would be a school bully stealing a cookie from an innocent junior or someone robbing the world’s largest bank, he would suffer at the hands of justice. If someone would drop a can of garbage on the street or violated the traffic laws, he would also get punished severely. Because that is how you can keep someone in check. Punishments can act as deterrents. They are not a means to exercise one’s authority or make the individuals of a society feel inferior. This notion of fear needs to act as a glorious necessity rather than an inconvenience. Because if people feel they cannot do what they want without being punished, it is human nature to rebel and fight against such oppression.

On the other hand if they can be taught the penalties of their actions, if some sort of filter could be developed into the mind of the common man which would make him, not just rethink the concept of doing the wrong thing, but would make him retch at the very thought of it then and truly then can punishment act as a deterrent.

A man in the United Kingdom would be appalled and revolted at the idea of driving in the wrong lane on the highway. They are taught that this leads to fatal accidents and driving in the wrong lane and getting caught would lead to a heavy fine and probably even a sentence. As a result, no one does it anymore. They are all afraid of the fines and sentences but they aren’t so scared that it would drive them towards revolution and so-called retribution. They acknowledge the reason for this law’s existence and concede that this rule stands to protect them.

On the other hand the first thing a typical uneducated driver does on the highways of Pakistan is search for the quickest lane to break free of the traffic. You will find trucks on all four lanes when it is clearly mentioned that only one lane is reserved for trucks. You will find bikes trying to sneak through the torrent of buses and cars and this causes casualties. Whole kilometers of traffic get stuck simply because some driver came up with the brilliant idea of turning left from the rightmost lane. Due to the lack of respect for traffic rules, many people suffer. The ignorance and blatant defiance of an individual hurts a nation far more than it patters his own ego.

The Caliph Umer Farooq (RA) kept a severe watch over his empire. Everything was under check – every scrap of food that was eaten to every penny that left the house. Accountability was everything and the punishments were severe. Most people would be horrified to think that the greatest kingdom in the world had such strictness and culpability and scrutiny but the truth is one has to look beyond this picture. Those people were some of the best people in the world to ever exist. They were well taught by the Quran and the Sunnah of the Holy Prophet (PBUH) and they were willing to be punished should they do anything wrong. Fear sounds evil, but just like the flame that can provide burning heat as well as illumination, it can act as a savior if given the chance.

The second way is LOVE.

Not the kind of love that was Dumbledore’s favorite solution which would drive a teenager to the greatest adventure ever written to beat the most powerful wizard that ever existed but the love for humanity and the gleam that can be seen in the eyes of a man. Allow me to eradicate some of the boredom you are feeling and let me tell you a story.

Once a man, let us call him Malik, heard about this man who was prophesized to change the world through his character and morals. Malik was enraptured and beguiled by the stories he heard of this man and went to meet this man named Ali. When Malik met Ali, he said to him, “Kind sir, I have travelled from afar to meet you. I am enchanted by the stories they tell of you. Pray, allow me to spend the day with you so I too can learn what it is you do that makes you so special!” Ali gave him a warm smile and nodded. Malik saw that twinkle in his eyes everyone talked about and was very eager to start the day.

Ali took Malik to an old broken house. There was a lot of mess outside the house. Indeed the whole street was a mess. Trash and animal dung was thrown at the houses and it was awfully smelly. Ali kindly asked him to take off his shoes and come in. Malik could not understand why they were to take shelter in such a broken down place. As they went to bed, Malik thought of asking him but could not muster the courage. After all, this was a man destined to change the world. Who was he to argue?

In the morning, Ali woke Malik up and asked him to accompany him to the morning prayer. Malik got ready and then went outside. To his surprise the street was neat and clean. All the smell and odor was gone. When Malik came back from prayer, he expected Ali to be with a group of companions who were getting ready to change the world. But to his surprise, he saw Ali at his home, milking the goat and feeding her. Malik wanted to see when Ali would do something astounding, something that would validate the amazing stories he had heard about him. But all day, Ali did nothing astounding. He simply milked the goat, stitched his own clothes, went to the markets to buy food, cooked the food and served it to Malik.

Malik had heard Ali was exceptionally generous but he had only served some food to an old man who came knocking at his door. Malik had heard Ali had the respect of all the people in his country but so far he had seen the people giving him angry glimpses and some kids even threw stones at his feet. Malik was infuriated but Ali stopped him from chasing the children. So the whole day ended and when it was time to leave Ali asked him, “Well brother? Did you learn anything? Was I of some help to you?” Malik blurted out, “Brother Ali. I simply do not understand. I have heard such good stories about you. People say you are the best person alive in the world. You are prophesized to change the world. I came here wondering what it is that makes you so special. But I simply cannot see it. You are very kind but I do not see how you can be the best person alive.”

Ali smiled and said, “The key to being good is to not do bad. Do unto others as you wish others to do unto you. I have love for all my brothers and sisters and some despise me for not following the bad rules of society. They throw trash in front of my house and in the street but they do not understand that even if their streets are littered, I will clean it with my bare hands hoping to clean their souls along with it. Eventually I will become an example to them and then they will want to be like me. No one will ever force them. They will dig into the deepest corners of their souls and they will want it. They will like what they see and will desire the same for themselves. The warmth I provide them will light a flame in their hearts and they will begin to see the beauty of the diamond in the rough.”

This is the second way to save the world and it is far more difficult to do it by this method. Unfortunately it is also the correct way. Any way you look at it, doing whatever you can for others is the best long term plan to truly save the world. It is a lesson, a moral one will learn even after the person is gone. It will keep a person highly motivated during times of crisis. It will polish them to a point where humanity may go insane from starvation, but man will still keep his plate clean for fear that his brothers might not get enough to eat.

Fear works only as long as the punishment exists. Overthrow the leader and introduce anarchy, and the world is your oyster. The concept of justice will melt and the implementers of justice will use this weapon for their own selfish benefits. But once you change the world by changing yourself, then you leave your mark. A mark that lasts forever, burned into the very hearts of men. And that ladies and gentlemen is how you can save the world, one man at a time.




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