Wisdom and Tea: Reflections of Muslim Home-making Moms

Think. Learn. Act. Remind.

Who (or what) is robbing us of our personalities?!

We are using disposable diapers, on-line and automatic bill payments, connecting with hundreds of people we know via email and through online social media sites like Facebook and Twitter, we have prepackaged masalas and meals, fast and reliable transport and supermarkets everywhere, yet we are constantly short of time.

We don’t have the time to talk to our children, play with them, spend meaningful time with our spouses, visit relatives and friends, give time to parents, eat, sleep, exercise, do groceries and laundry, prepare dinner, pray on time, go on vacations! What gives?

And it’s not just us moms who have this issue; ask any school-going child and he will tell you the same thing: there’s no time to do anything any more! No time for his brothers and sisters, no time for parents and extended family, no time to play or just sit around reading story books!

Where does all the time go?

Recently, I tried to involve my Sunday School youth girls’ group in an after-school/weekend club where they would hang out, do fun activities with each other, plan for, advertise and manage a community event for charity and mostly just benefit from the camaraderie.

Contrary to what I thought, they were terribly excited about it! But again, contrary to what I thought, they weren’t able to make time for it. They really wanted to, but they couldn’t. Where was their time going? Who was to blame for not leaving them enough time for recreational activities?

I asked them. There was a single reason: school.

These were 12-15 year-old girls who were so busy with school and school-related activities that they didn’t have time to kick back and relax! They were in school from 8 am to 4 pm (!!!), they would come home and get started on tons of math, English, history, science homework, research and write up assignments, have dinner and get into bed only to start the cycle all over again the next morning.

Twenty years ago, as a 12-year-old, I was writing essays in my spare time, reading a book a day, playing with friends, spending time with family, watching television and doing homework! There seemed to be plenty of hours in a day to do so many different things. Summer vacations were spent doing creative projects like woodwork, doing plenty of reading, embroidery and the like.

School was not the only important thing in my life even if it was supposed to be the most important. There were always plenty of other things that I could venture creatively into and end up learning things that were just as exciting and important as anything I learned in school, if not more so!

I was able to spend time just thinking, thinking about things that were happening in my immediate surroundings that affected me and others around me, about the things that were happening in the world to other people not directly connected with me; I was able to broaden my experience and deepen my understanding on many subjects through reading: I was constantly perusing books, magazines, newspapers, I was watching television, I was working at the computer.

I had the time to discover things for myself, I had the time to think about those things and to draw my own conclusions, I had the time to seek my elders’ guidance, I had the time to study hard and make sense of what I was being taught in school. I was truly learning and getting an education.

I made friends at school whose lives I really knew about, whose personalities and character I really knew about. I learned so much about people through my interactions with them.

But what are children and youth getting in school these days?

School curricula are aimed at giving children and youth a wider knowledge base and deeper experience of people and events. They are trying to achieve this by taking them on field trips, making them write papers on specific events and people, making them do in-depth assignments … But are they succeeding in broadening the vision and experience of an average school-goer?

Probably not.

Why not? Because they are robbing children of the time that they need to process this inundation of information … processing that is essential for memory formation, for drawing conclusions, for asking their own questions, for seeing things from their own specific angle, for understanding something.

This is not just the case in schools… take any medical school, college, university and you will see this problem. The problem is not with what is being “taught” but with how much time is being given to the students to really learn.

If we take this understanding to how things work beyond school, we will see some of the same forces at play. There’s no longer any time to do anything meaningful because that meaning is being shoved down our throats!

We can no longer derive our own conclusions about anything that happens anywhere in the world because the 24-hour news channels are busy telling us how to analyze the event, what to think and even how to feel!

We can no longer take the time out to form our own opinions because we are constantly being given a 100 different “expert” opinions via blogs and weekly columns in newspapers.

We are not finding the time to do anything meaningful because technology is in our face constantly telling us what to buy, where to live, who to believe, who to mistrust, where to go and what to do when we get there! We are so busy reading, listening to or watching these expert opinions that we don’t have the time to do anything original for ourselves!

I spend a considerable amount of my time on social media sites, checking and replying to email, and reading inspirational words written by someone else. And I complain that I never have the time to do anything any more.

But I am learning that as I cut down on my use of the internet (we don’t have a TV in our house), I have more and more free time on my hands to actually do things and learn new things … I also have a lot more time to just sit back and relax, to think, to write, to study, to spend time with my husband and children.

The solution to the lack of time problem? Less Internet, less TV, less school. (Of course, these are only the first issues to tackle. There are other issues, too, that need to be addressed but I will leave those for another post.)

If others (the government, the school authorities) are not willing to cooperate with us on this, then we need to start making this a priority for ourselves and enforce this change.

We need to be more than the automatons we have been turned into by these systems. We need to break free! We need to find our uniqueness, our personalities, and we need to do something original with those qualities!

We need to reclaim our lost, independent selves for our own sake and for our coming generations!

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About Humaira Khan

"I don't know what the future holds but I know Who holds the future."

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