Many people reach out to me saying that they have trouble enjoying life with all the atrocities occurring around the world. I had a very similar question for a couple of years; wondering how can I justify happiness when I have a cousin incarcerated arbitrarily, when there are over 30 family members I have lost contact with, when millions of my Uyghurs have disappeared.
I was sitting on the edge of a cliff, overlooking a view of blue waters and islands when a tear rolled down my eye. How can I allow myself to have such a blessed and calm moment when my cousin is probably locked up in an undisclosed location, looking at the stars wondering if I had forgotten him.
It was as if he whispered in my ear, “enjoy the moment for I cannot”. I had thought about a role reversal as I prayed for Allah to give my cousin Saabr (patience). If I had been in the shoes of my cousin, I would have hated to bring others down with me. I would pray for those members of my family who are free to enjoy their freedom for me.
For the sake of those who cannot and do not have the capacity to enjoy and be free, you owe it to them to be cognizant of your blessings.
This is not to say we are entitled to our joyful moments, but rather this is a plea to enjoy all the little things. Every time I wake up, I smile knowing that my cousin would be disappointed if he were to see me drown in privilege and not acknowledge it.
A wise man said that in a world full of sorrow, it is our responsibility to be happy. For it is the abundance of unsatisfied people that cause everyone to be unhappy, not the means to which we live.
To conclude, I want to make a point clear. The age old saying goes “with power comes responsibility”. I would like to rephrase this and make it more relevant to our lives as everyday people, “with privilege comes responsibility”. Be aware of your blessings, and enjoy them, but don’t be ignorant of the positive ways you can contribute to the world.
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