It may be a dream afraid of waking up, or it may be a dream coming to realization in the next morning.

Saturday, December 31, 2011

Happy New Year!

To be perfectly honest, I did not even remember that tomorrow is going to be the beginning of the new year, until my best friend, Akram told me. I was quite busy with the new job and the submission of thesis and whatnot, not really keeping up with the date.

So, upon knowing that tomorrow is the new year, I can't help but think, what good things have I done in 2011? What resolution I set in the beginning of 2011 have I actually achieved now? Hell, I can't even remember if I ever set a resolution. So, if you ask what my feelings are in this last few hours of 2011, I honestly don't know.

So, how about you? Can you look back and feel good? Or do you remember some things about 2011 and feel regretful?

But, if you feel regretful and/or depressed, then don't worry, we still have 2012 to make up for it. But still, thinking like this doesn't give you the ticket to think that you might live for years or a year more. As my Prophet said, you do your religious duty like you would die tomorrow, and you commit to your worldly affair like you would live for another 1000 years.

So, let's hope and pray that 2012 will be a much better year. Ameen!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

One Thing Leading to Another

Have you ever noticed that whenever you feel something - good or bad - you'll realize that the subsequent events would also be positive? For example, you find the morning so great, the shower is so warm, and the breakfast is wonderful. All in all, you begin the day feeling great. Then, you most likely will also find the things you encounter along your day positive, the morning breeze, the chirping birds, the busy traffic, and whatever. And no matter how bad it could seem. You miss the train? It's fine, it's still early. You step on a mud? Okay, it's dirty, but nothing unwashable.

But when you start off the day feeling miserable, you will most likely find yourself in a later event that seems to be worse than the last. Oh, the toothpaste is finished! The egg is burned! No bread! The birds are very noisy! The wind is too cold!

But do you notice all those annoying things are also the great things experienced by the positive people described above?

I believe this all boils down to our own perception. When negative things (e.g. our emotions in the beginning of the day) preoccupy our mind, then the negative emotions resulting from that usually weigh down all other positive events that might occur every now and then, this is called as Negativity Bias.

So, my suggestion would be to not indulge yourself in a negative emotion too long because no matter what you experience afterwards, you'd still hate it, figuratively. In addition, when you fight off the negative feelings with the positive ones, you'll more likely be more productive and reasonable throughout your day.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Falling In Love

Sometimes we wonder why some people are easily blinded by love. Because of a certain person, they could, as we always say to describe romanticism, "to swim across the seas, to pick the stars, and to walk across fire." A study has shown that love is a feeling that can neurologically suppress our reasoning and logical thinking. In a layman's words, love is a kind of an addiction.

Why not? When we are in love, walking feels like floating, the body seems to be really light, and the head is slanted slightly to the side while we tilt it upward. Everything seems so right, and minor setbacks are just, well, setbacks - nothing you can't handle. When you fall in love, your mind and your partner's seem to be on the parallel level of existence. That's why you could finish each other's sentences, and it seems like your interest is always also his or her interest. There's not enough time to talking! You can spend hours on the phone, in front of the computer chatting, and even writing a traditional mail.

When you're in love, the world is bright and the chirping of the bird sounds beautiful. You can't wait to tell everything that happens in your life to your partner - your increasing grade, your bitchy workmate, or even the chirping birds. And yet, you can't even wait to hear everything that happens in his or her life. There's always something to tell, yet there seems to be so much that still needs telling.

When you fall in love, no night passes by without you thinking about the person you're in love with. You wonder, "When can I go to the movies with him/her?", "Is he/she thinking of me right now?", "Will I ever get married to this guy/girl?" Because after all, this is the person you want to spend the rest of your life with. You know that he or she is the ONE.

So, because of those, love is like an addiction. Just like any other drugs, it makes us feel good. No wonder every story in the media/books has the element of love, relationship, marriage, etc. Love is so pivotal in a human's life that the repeat of its importance in everyday life never bores the very humanity. If we can, we want to spend everyday of our life loving someone!

For me, while there is love to our family, to our friends, to our partner, to our God, there is also a unique role each plays in our life. We can never be enough with one type of love. Which is why in Prophet Muhammad's life, he was bestowed with the best of people around him that he loved so dearly. The journey that he partook was filled with the comings and goings of people that filled his life with such love and joy.

I sound lame in this entry, but love is lame, in a good way. Somehow I believe there is someone for everyone. There's no such thing as loneliness except when you are giving up. Loving is also a learning process, so don't be afraid to fail because afterwards, you are always a stronger lover.

There you go...

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

The Help

"God says we need to love our enemies... It [is] hard to do..."

Recently I just watched a film that depicts the lives of "colored" maids in the early 1960's. In the film, we can see characters with various personalities, most of them have something to do with discrimination and stereotype. We can see some characters who are inflicted with the most ridiculous kinds of stereotypical thinking ever. Hence because of that, one of the prominent storylines in the film is the belief that bathrooms for Whites and colored people need to be separate. In order not to sound stereotyped, the character having that belief asserts that although that has to be done, it is still equal, "separate but equal." Why do they have to be separate in the first place? It is because their stereotypical thinking tells them that colored people bring disease their people don't.

We also can see characters who are sympathetic to the maids like the main protagonist named Skeeter and a couple others. Despite the community's attitude towards colored maids, and even the legal endorsements related to the relationships between Whites and colored people, Skeeter has a different sets of belief, and she does not let stereotypes and difference of skin color determine who she can and cannot befriend with. In the film, she with other two maids write a book that tells the perspective of maids in Jackson, Mississippi - the good and the bad. And the book is finally published, but not without some repercussions.

In the film, the kind of stereotypes and discrimination that we can see is the explicit kind, the kind that usually existed in the era where our grandparents were still teenagers. But, don't be rest assured, because these phenomena still exist today, but because of the pressure of the media, the policies, and education, the modern kind of stereotype and discrimination now is more implicit. It means, these things are still in our head, but they stay in there. Malaysia is not exempted from racism issue, in fact it is steadily talked about because despite of being a real social issue, some politicians use it to hype up their own manifesto and popularity.

As a result, what I can see now is, rather than people of different races start accepting one another, they become suspicious and doubtful to each other, except this time, they sugarcoat it with friendliness. For me, the education on social issue of discrimination is important to teach the young that people of different backgrounds are not their enemies. But all the talk and fake assurance about solution of racism in Malaysia is not really necessary because for me the real solution is to "ignore" it. I know it doesn't sound intelligible but this time, ignorance can be a bliss. We ignore the hype-up, the fake talk, the racist remarks, and all, but instead we start living with each others and practice respect.

So, writing this entry is exactly the opposite of what I'm advocating, therefore I'm going to stop.

Sunday, December 4, 2011


Positive Psychology is an interesting branch of psychology that seeks to find potential and strengths within humans. It is developed because too much of the rest of what psychology is learnt is something negative, unhealthy, or abnormal. So, rather than talk about what makes humans sick, Positive Psychology studies about what makes humans grow and survive.

One of the topics discussed by positive psychologists is the topic of hopes. Hope is a feeling where you are confident that a positive outcome will occur. According to psychologists, hopes are a response to the circumstances when things seem to be, well, hopeless, or impossible. Hopes keep us going when the only other choice that we have is to give up.

According to one of the most prominent authors about hopes is C. R. Snyder, who wrote a book titled, "The Psychology of Hopes" (2003). Snyder wrote that hopes have three mental components: Goals, willpower, and waypower. The goals are the end destination with certain measures of importance where we would like to end up. Willpower is the force of determination that drives us to the goals. Waypower, on the other hand, is the how-to of goals and willpower. We may have the destination in mind and the drive of it, but do we know how to achieve it?

I think waypower is what's wrong with so many people in this world (well, including me at some point). We all have imaginations, dreams, and hopes. We all face certain tribulations and challenges when it comes to achieving what is in our mind. But, do we really know how to achieve it? Many of us just become hopeless simply because when asked about it, "I'm just not sure what to do anymore..." If you keep thinking about it, there must be a way to achieve something. Ask yourself, have I researched everything about it? Have I figured out all the possible ways to achieve it? If your answer is "I'm not sure," then most probably you have not.

So, get off your butt and try to do something. Try to drive away the disappointment from accompanying the result of your hope. Chances are, whenever you hope, it's when it materializes. You just need enough actions to make it happen.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The Disease of Loneliness

There is a woman in her mid-thirties, who is a single mother with children. After her divorce, she has been relentlessly searching for men over the internet through chatting messengers. From an observation, her choice of men are usually the kinds that are adventurous and controversial, not in a good way. Until today, she has been dating with several men including a husband of someone else's, a fraud, and a drug dealer. Because of these men, she abandons her responsibilities as a mother, a daughter, a sister and a teacher at a school where she works at.

However, if living a life without men. she can actually be a good mother, daughter, a sister, and a teacher. For some reasons, when there is a man in her life, she becomes impulsive and out of control. She always leaves her children until late night, skipping her work days, and even lying to her parents. It is like adolescent years all over again. Because of men, she has done some serious things like burying a spelled material obtained from a witch doctor, having sex with multiple men, and even now there is a pregnancy scare.

When she was young, she is described by her parents to be rebellious and always sneak out at night to be with her friends. Among her siblings, she was always the one with the troubles. Because of being too conformant to her friends too, she dropped out of school of did not finish her last year. The worst she did after her parents exerted some control on her was attempting to commit suicide by slitting her wrist. Since then, her family became very careful at what they were going to say or do to her.


What do you think about the story above? About the description of the woman above? A perception of a layman might judge her as an "insane, deadbeat mother," or "a woman stuck in her teenager mind." But for me, it is the disease of loneliness that makes her the way she is. From what I can see, she is in a constant need of connecting with someone, especially a man - and she could go to great length to make sure that she stays being connected. 

The thing is, she seems to be very clinical, with the impulse problem and suicidal tendency, so I ask myself, is there in any ways that loneliness can become clinical rather than a temporary condition? The loneliness or the need to connect with someone this woman is feeling is the kind that reaches the extreme line. While she is capable of being a good mother, sister, daughter, and at her work, she still could alter her personality to the most opposite degree, and abandon everything, just to be with a guy.

But all in all, I believe that loneliness is a very dangerous disease and nobody ever deserves to feel lonely. So, I'm calling everyone out there, don't take loneliness for granted. If you ever feel lonely, reach out to someone, or if you find anyone of your friend or family members show the signs of loneliness, then reach out to him or her. Loneliness is a disease that can grow out to a more serious unfortunate event, at which life can be at risk because of it.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

The Death of Wang Yue

Have you ever heard of the case of an accident where Wang Yue, a Chinese little girl, who was run by two vehicles and it was reported that more than 15 people were passing by but none offered help? You can watch it here.

No, no, don't blame any nationality over this accident, blame the humanity, especially a certain psychological part of it that actually had been observed since 1964, the year where a woman named Kitty Genovese was tragically killed while the people in a building nearby, her neighbors and witnesses to the murder did not do a thing to help her. Since the murder of Kitty, social psychologists had acknowledged the threat of Bystander Effect, the condition where help is less likely to be offered when diffusion of responsibility is not clear. According to the theorists, Bystander Effect means that the more people are present in an emergency case, the less likely help is offered to the victim/patient/person in need.

Why do you think happened in the video above? My hypothesis is that, the market was a crowded place (although it did not seem crowded, but reports said that it was a busy place), so the accident was witnessed by a lot of people. When we are with people, we usually determine what happen by looking at the action of others. So, let's say there were 15 people in the accident place, each one of them looked at one another, wondering why nothing was done. When they couldn't answer the question, they resorted to the answer, "Maybe it is nothing..."

It is a tragic case, as was the murder of Kitty. I don't doubt it might happen to anywhere else in the world if the people are not educated on the threat of Bystander Effect. So, I'm making this entry, hoping that the few of you guys who read might understand what is happening and can do a little change.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

A Thought on War

So, I was in Turkey for 12 days and this time, my friend, Aslam and I tried to be more courageous by traveling farther than our comfort zone (well, not really courageous as in we used a travel agent to do so), and we chose Canakkale as our choice of city to visit. But I'm not here to talk about my travel experience, although I might put it in here and there to support what I am going to say. My post here is largely about war, it's because what Canakkale is and what the city is known for.

So, Canakkale (or more specifically Gallipoli) was a place where War of Gallipoli between Turkey and ANZAC (Australian and New Zealand Army Corps) took place. We were told by the tour guide that this war was one of the bloodiest because of the large amount of casualties including young soldiers and medical officers. I'm not an expert in the history, but upon visiting the cemeteries of both the ANZAC and Turkish casualties, I was starting to see the reality of war and its effects.

My mind was occupied with the issue of war the rest of the day and I also had a debate about the necessity of war with one of the staffs at the hostel we were staying in. The staff was adamant on the necessity of war and said that war is the most suitable way to defend ourselves when our right is stripped from us. but I thought otherwise. Despite how large the mission is, I still believe there is an alternative to war, but of course I'm too small to be issuing my opinion because wars were/are the result of something much larger.

When I looked at the cemeteries and the words that people who loved the deceased wrote on the tombstone,  my heart broke. Despite the existence of the people they love, soldiers still decided to go out and love their country more (at which I do not say is wrong). Their patriotism was very strong perhaps because there was a strong leader among them that gave them the strength to do so. I respect these soldiers fully despite their religion and nationality.

But I hope in the future there is a way for wars to be prevented. Humanity is so much more important than the need to shed any blood. But if wars were still to happen, then...

Monday, October 17, 2011


So, I had an interesting experience debating very very briefly with some guys on a page in Facebook about jealousy and it stands in Islam. The original status said that if you were a good slave of God, you would not have even an ounce of feeling of jealousy because you would always be grateful with what you got. Yes, at face value, it is true, but the more I think about it, I guess we can see it from another perspective.

I started to think about it when a comment of that status said it was wrong because somehow the poster related jealousy with envy. So, let me ask you, is jealousy really envy? And then, on top of that, another poster said that jealousy is greed. So, let me ask you another obvious question, is jealousy really greed? Is jealous on the same zip code of envy and greed. For me, it is, but what differentiates my opinion and the status is that jealousy is not really all black. For me, there is "white" about jealousy.

Now, of course you have to be grateful with everything you have got, but do you have to be settled for it? No. You can feed your family with your daily income. Your family need $20 a day to survive, and you gain $20 to give them. Yes, be grateful, at least it's not below $20, but do you really have to be just grateful? Why can't you look at people around you who are better than you and be jealous of them, then want to achieve the better state that they achieve. You don't want to just be settled with $20, you want to be able to give your family more.

Now, another issue, is wanting more greed? Yes, I suppose. But is it a bad greed? No, I don't think so. If I were to use an Islamic example, Islam always asks us to be "greedy" for His mercy and blessings. So, why can't we be greedy on a better state of life, just as we are greedy to be a better slave of God?

For me, what is bad is simple. Jealousy, envy, and greed become bad when you believe that you should be on top of everyone and no other people should achieve the same way you do. And when people do, you start to do something bad to them that can make them fall down, or at the very least, you wish them to go down. To achieve for a better state does not belong to a specific person or group of people, everybody deserves to have a better state of life. In order to have that you need to be jealous of, envious for, and greedy for it. But in order to keep you humble and down-to-earth, you also need to have a good amount of gratitude in your heart.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Free Will Is A Limited Resource

When I was reading this book, "30-Second Psychology", I was intrigued by this one particular theory about willpower that was developed by Roy Baumeister that is called as Ego Depletion. This theory asserts that freewill is a resource that is limited and can be exhaustible. A study performed to see how long the participants could skip the delicious chocolate cookies placed on a table while asked to just eat a piece or two of radishes that were also there. Three groups were introduced: a group that did not have eating requirement, a group that was asked to only eat the radishes and skip the cookies, and the third group who was allowed to eat the cookies and skip the radishes.

In the same time, all participants were instructed to do a puzzle and told that they could quit anytime they want. The results showed that the group who was asked to skip the cookies quit the puzzle earlier than the other two groups. The researchers explained this that free will is limited by attributing it to the participants' report on being tired on having to keep resisting the cookies.

So, related to this, what should we say about ourselves? I would like to comment on the media in the modern world, at which advertisements on scrumptious unhealthy foods, sexual symbols, and many more are viewed before our eyes everyday. At the same time, obesity, eating disorder, rape cases, teenage pregnancy, and many more issues are increasing day by day. Can I safely say that these issues and the advertisements are positively related then? Based on this research, both might.

At this point, I honestly do not know for sure to whom we can place the burden of the issue. Is it really the parents? The media? The government? I guess it's all of them. But, perhaps more accurately is the individuals themselves who need to exercise the strength of their free will because the researchers reported although free will is exhaustible, practice can help an individual resistance to temptation stronger. But it's not easy as it sounds, is it?

Monday, October 3, 2011


Today I had a conversation with two of my friends where we argue about how far our family could go to accept us. One side argued that no matter how dark, how deep, and how sinful/immoral what you have been hiding is, your family will accept you. But, another side (which was me), said that acceptance has its limit. No matter how a person is our family, his or her ground would be shaken if something is strong enough to shake it - which could result in a broken floor.

What do you think? Will your family still accept you if you used to, for example, um, (...searching for an example of a terrible secret) murdered someone? That you are a murderer? Or if have been having an affair with your sister's brother (or your brother's sister)? I know that my examples are too dramatic. But let's say you keep one of these secrets, will you be able to still stand by your family?

There is one case of sex reassignment case in Terengganu that was heatedly talked about recently by bloggers and major newspapers. No, I'm not here to argue if it is wrong or right, or if it is immoral. I was intrigued by the person's mother reaction toward his decision to change his sex. His mother gave a clear consent about the whole issue and supported her son all way long.

This is one example how families could go to great length to accept us. But for me, it is just one example. Maybe the mother in this case came from a liberal family, or maybe she had been exposed to a more opened world, or any other factors that could lead her to react positively like that. But for some other families, I am sure their reaction would be brutal.

But this one I am sure - no matter how lost you feel and confused you become, the one sure place you can always go back to is your family.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

The Many Words for Love

A psycholinguistic theory asserts that the more prevalent something is in a culture, the more nouns are available to describe that thing. For example, if you ever heard about this, Eskimos have many words of snow that can describe snow in its different forms. I don't know what those words are, but apparently, their daily experience with snow makes them be able to appreciate snow more deeply than us.

Snow is not my point here, my point is the word "love." How many words in English that describe "love"? Fondness? Passion? Care about? I don't think so. But in Malay language, we have quite a few words that can describe "love," such as:

1) Cinta
2) Sayang
3) Kasih
4) Maybe suka?

What does this mean? Does this mean love is more prevalent in Malay culture than the English-speaking cultures? I don't think so, or at least it cannot be confirmed yet as so. I think this is a great language research that can tell us something about Malay culture that might be interesting.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Professional and Muslim Counselors and Psychotherapists

This is something that I have envisioned since I took my counseling subject in my last university: A professional Muslim counselor cum psychotherapist who specializes in religious issues. No, this is not the typical you-are-depressed-so-you-must-face-God kind of Muslim counselor. This kind of counselor, in my vision, is the one that uses scientific approach (or many of us are keen to call them Western approaches) to solve Islamic religious issues. Let me give you examples:

a) Ali comes to a Muslim counselor because of his issue of concentration in prayers. The counselor uses theories of attention available to help client focus more in prayers. Ali also complains of always finishing up his prayers quickly, sometimes unconsciously, so the counselor thinks of reasons why individuals have troubles "waiting" or doing anything in slow pace. So, perhaps it is something to do with the type of personality (personality A or B), in which an individual with Personality A has problem moving in attentive pace, which is something that prayers require.

b) Halimah sees a Muslim counselor because she realizes her habit of backbiting is getting worse. The counselor analyzes her personality to see if there are underlying factors as to why she needs to gossip. Perhaps Halimah has an envy issue that begins from her lack of self-esteem, which can be covered by her talking bad behind someone's back.

c) Fikri has anger issue and is irascible towards anything wrong, from forgetting to buy a toothpaste, to a noisy neighbor, to a simple joke from a friend. A Muslim counselor that he meets understands that Rasulullah used to ask his people to sit if they are standing, and to lie down if they are sitting when they are angry. This is consistent with the assertion that a person is angrier when the desire to be angry is "entertained", so the counselor uses elements of lowering the angry person's down in many ways before the anger furthers.

These are just several examples (just examples, not scientific at all) of how a Muslim counselor can treat religious issues, or daily issues for that matter without being condescending. By condescending, what I mean is that a lot of Muslim counselors now just resort to "it's haraam" and "it's a sin" and "you must repent" while talking to their clients. I do not say that it is wrong, but before you say that, have you ever taken the steps to understand your clients first?

I hope with the time passing by and a lot of Muslim graduates are aspiring to be psychologists, they would be able to balance between religious and scientific values and practices in what they do. Islam, while can be a mystic religion, is very scientific when it comes to daily life. So, why not we, as professionals, take advantages of the knowledge we learn at school to help people, rather than judging them out of place.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

One Very Effective Way to Scare Smokers

My father was a smoker. Yeah, I didn't know that until recently when he was back from his Umrah with my mother. We were discussing about smoking and my father nonchalantly told us that he was a pretty heavy smoker when he was younger. Then, it intrigued me, how come is he not now? I mean, he doesn't smoke at all. I was a keen believer that once a smoker, you're forever a smoker. I know, I know, there are successful cases where smokers stop their habits, but to tell you the truth, I never see one in my own life experience.

The story on his success was simple. He experienced an indirect persuasion, an accidental one. My father had a friend who was also a heavy smoker, and they always smoked together. But, one day, his friend caught a sickness that seemed to be very much related to his smoking habit. According to my father, the sickness looked awful and scary. Out of the blue, my father just stopped smoking, fearing that he might get the same sickness.

You see, everyday, smokers are told everyday that smoking is a bad for health. The government even asked cigarette companies in Malaysia to put gruesome pictures that depict the health consequences of smoking. But we can't deny the fact that they don't work. We keep telling our fathers, or brothers, or relatives, or friends, that they could get whatever cancer disease that is associated with smoking. No, they still smoke pretty heavily. So, why did this work on my father but not on all of these folks out there?

I believe it did because a message that is not intended to persuade is actually more persuasive. Compare these sentences:

a) "Don't smoke because you will get lung cancer!"
b) "Oh, I don't know, I'm starting to feel sick now at my lung. Do you think it's because of my smoking?"

The second speaker might not intend to persuade the audience that smoking is bad for health, but my father, who was the listener to his friend saying a sentence resembling the second sentence, felt like he would be about to experience the same thing if he didn't stop smoking. So, in a way, his friend "persuaded" him to stop smoking, without intending it.

Persuasion is a very intriguing subject and we all can see how politicians, media, salesmen, or even ordinary people like us use a wide range of persuasive techniques to get what they want or desire. Maybe I'll do more entries on persuasive techniques if I have the motivation to do so. Persuade me to do so!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Greatly Glad Tidings

This entry is dedicated to my parents returning back from their visit in the Holy Land. Usually when your parents are gone for half a month to a very far place and then they are back, the moment when you are looking at their faces can be elating. But when the time for you to meet them is coupled with some nerve-ridden news, that feeling is intensified.

Let me tell you what happened.

The flight was originally set to arrive in Malaysia at 3.00 p.m. But the night before, my father called me and told us that the arrival would be delayed some hours later. It was fine, because we all were thinking that delays are a normal part of flying. Then, came the next night, we all were set to pick our parents up from the airport. We almost arrived at Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) at 10 p.m. but our father called to tell us that we should just not come yet and hang out somewhere. So, we went to a petrol station nearby that had some kind of little cafe in its speedmart. An hour later, after purchasing and eating foods whose prices were purposely the same with the parking fees at KLIA for several hours (yeah, that's crazy), our father called again and told us the gate was finally opened. We all went out from there and headed to the airport.

After arriving, we waited some more, but by "we" I mean, the other two cars of my sister and my brother. But, the car I was in that belonged to my other sister got lost. From going to the left to park our car inside the airport parking spaces, my sister didn't see the sign and went to the right lane, which was for going back to Kuala Lumpur. We got nervous, especially because we might not be able to get in time to see our father and mother arriving.

Then, we was able to find our way back to KLIA and relieved when our other siblings called us and told us that our parents hadn't arrived yet. So, we waited... and waited and waited, until came the time when our father called us, yet again, to tell us that it was going to be even later because there seemed to be unsettling about the situation inside the arriving gate. Then, we were discussing what we could do to kill time, and our father called again to tell us that all the passengers of that particular flight were all detained because a little big-mouthed birdie told the authority that there was a bomb inside the plane. When our father told us that, it was nerve-breaking and we needed something to soothe our feelings over.

So, not enough with the food consumed at the petrol station, added with our riveting hunger, we decided to kill the time by eating at some nearby place since there was nothing much we could do. After spending a significant amount of time at the restaurant, we decided to get back to the airport and waited for our parents there. We parked at the front gate of the airport and some of us waited in the car and some other waited inside to see the arriving and released passengers. I myself was trying to sleep in the car but the mosquitoes somehow tried to tell me that it was not the right thing to do that time.

Inside the arriving gate, my parents underwent the most annoying investigation and check-up ever. My mother was frustrated to see how it was all handled and confronted one of the police officers and asked why all this, but the officer only replied with a laconic answer that it was all perfunctory. Every bag was searched several times and the number of passengers released upon satisfying condition were moving very slowly.

Then, it was a couple hours later, and we finally saw our parents coming out from Gate 6, the gate where the passengers from that flight and that airplane to come out to. And yes, the feelings were intensified and to finally see our parents' faces were great. I'm glad that everything turns out fine.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Eid Mubarak!!!

The fasting month is almost at the end, what do you feel? I certainly feel there are so many things to fix and improve, and I certainly feel I did not succeed much in this fasting month in fighting against my desires and small sins. So, it's definitely sadness. But as we all say again and again, all good things indeed come to an end.

But for all the reasons why Eid is the way it is, I feel happy for its arrival too. It is the place where family comes together, where far-away friends meet, and we visit the relatives who we are not close to in the first place. My heartfelt prayers would be to see my family comes together again, and I could meet with my far-away friends, and I could visit my relatives whom I'm not close with. But especially, the first one, especially the first one.

In this occasion, I'd like to take the opportunity to ask for forgiveness. I have made some enemies and I have made some friends. But nonetheless, I have made some kind of mistakes to both, and from the bottom of my heart, I apologize. My friends back in IIUM, back in school, in my current universities, if you happen to read this, please know that I am truly sorry for anything I did that might hurt you. Please make halal of what I have consumed from your part.

And my family, especially my parents who are in Makkah now, please forgive me and please make halal of anything that I consume or anything that you give. I hope you benefit as much as you can in your journey at the Holy Land.

Eid Mubarak!!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

What's Your Struggle.... In Ramadan?

In one of my past entries, What's Your Struggle?, I talked about how everyone has a struggle, or a fight in which that becomes a theme issue in that person's life. Now, let's talk a bit religiously and specifically, about a similar struggle that might have to face, that somehow magnifies in this blessed month. This entry is for my Muslim fellows out there, but I hope it could give an insight to everyone.

I had a conversation with one of my friends, who reported that his aim and goal to benefit as much from this month is sinking really low now. He was really pumped up to observe his obligations and the non-obligatory deeds, so he'd get something out of this month. But came the third week, he started feeling very down, and his energy was not as much as fiery as it was before.

The same thing happened to me, exactly. I promised myself to always go to the mosque every night (or if I didn't, I would complete the night prayers at home), and I would try my hardest not to do any obvious sins (I mean, the sins that I'm aware are sins upon doing them). The first two weeks were somehow fruitful and satisfying, and came the third week, suddenly the challenge became even harder and more difficult.

We have always heard how Islamic obligations like prayers and fasting can prevent someone from doing unIslamic things, but why some struggling individuals like me, my friend, and I'm sure thousands and thousand of Muslims out there are having a breakdown in our consistency? Why at one minute we are pumped up to do our best, but in another, we suddenly feel like we can't win anymore? This, again is not scientific, but my theory is this: Imaan (or Islamic faith), is a lot similar like motivation. Motivation is a very much popular in Psychological literature and a lot of research has been conducted to see the nature of it, such as what makes it stay, what makes it go low, or what makes it strong, or weak, etc. If you observe your Imaan, you will see the similar pattern, sometimes it is high, sometimes it is low, sometimes it is strong, and sometimes it is seriously weak. So, my question is, can we, scientifically and safely, assume that whatever applies to motivation can also be applied to Imaan? I mean, what seems to refill our motivation when it's down, can it refill our Imaan too?

I hope there are Muslim psychologists out there who would conduct such research and use the findings to benefit the other folks out here so we can benefit from it. As I conclude my entry, I would like to quote a nice phrase that I found somewhere in this virtual world that sums this topic up pretty well...

"Some people say that motivation doesn't last - well, like bathing, we recommend it daily!"

It's true...

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

A Letter to His Father

When conducting an activity with my client who is a young offender, involving him writing a letter originally done to provide a platform for healthy expressions of emotions, he seemed a little bit hesitant at first. But once he delved into the writing phase, he started to get deeper into it and write a lot longer than my friend and I initially thought. The letter is roughly translated...

"This is for you Abah. I write this letter to tell you what I felt throughout being under the same roof with you. I can't begin to tell you how much disappointed I am with you. I know my juvenile behaviors were inexcusable, but to be honest, I did them because all what I really wished and wanted was to be like any other kids who got what they wanted whenever they wanted them. I just want to be like them. Not rich, but with enough money where I could live like other kids. Instead of working, you hung out with your friends at the coffee shop with your friends and you jumped from one job to another. When at home, all you did was finding something to blame on me, if it's not about returning home late, it'd be about me not taking care of my little brother. But do you know why I'd return home late, and not take care of my little brother? It's because I'd be out finding a job to gain a little bit money so I could buy what I want. Then, I felt like the money was slow to get, then I resorted to stealing. I was nervous at first, but it got easier everytime I did it. From stealing money at a shop, I turned to picking pockets and stealing money from my own relatives. I felt happy, because for the first time in my life, I have my own money and I could buy something for my little brother, I could buy something to eat that he liked, and then I could buy something that I liked, that I wanted. I'm sorry Abah for disappointing you. Because of my juvenile behaviors, I was never a good son. I am not sure if you hate me or love me, but I hope one day you could find forgiveness as I did to you. Take care, Abah."

What I wanted to point out is that, each of youth who has made some criminal mistakes at some point in their life, there is a story to it. I do not condone what they did, but when you are working at a place where it "stores" kids who have made some illegal mistakes, the least you could do is to spend some time to understand where they come from and how they get here. That's how much you owe it to them when you are paid every month for your "job" and call yourself a "social worker."

This is what I would advice to everyone who'd step to be a staff at a welfare institution: Please make sure you have passion in your heart in regards to what you are doing. Please make sure you have what it takes to ensure that you go to the necessary lengths to understand the residents and try your hardest to avoid assigning labels like "evil" or "bad." Each time you like to think they are evil, ask yourself, haven't you made some mistakes you wish you could take back?

Saturday, August 6, 2011

What's Your Struggle?

My principle about life's challenges is this: No one is struggling more than the other one. Everyone has his or her own struggle that makes up the person's adventure in his or her life. You might have the struggle of poverty, and has to find the food to eat for the day for you or yourself, but it doesn't mean you have a worse challenge than a rich guy who has variety of foods to eat everyday; the latter might have the struggle of faith in which he needs to ensure that the wealth he possesses does not possess him (or it already does). You might feel like being a married person is really challenging and everytime people "complain" about being single, you'd answer with a laconic, "you don't want to get married," but single people might battle with the own depression out of being lonely, which is dangerous in the first place.

Therefore, my point is, each of us has our own struggle. The key point is to empathize and never compare problems. I believe when you are a friend who is listening to another friend's problem, the golden rule of thumb is to never say, "that is not a big deal, my situation is worse." You are just undermining his or her problem and worse yet, you might make your friend feel even more depressed. But this golden rule of thumb is not my point. My point is, what is your struggle and how do you perceive it?

Some people place the destination of finally triumphing over the struggle as the priority, and some people view the journey to the destination as the purpose of life. It all boils down to how you perceive your struggle. I also have mine, so I know how desperate you might feel sometimes to just get the hell out of the "theme" problem you have in your life, but we ought to remember in mind that there is no shortcut to happiness. Shortcuts will always backfire. The key to arriving at the destination is perseverance, persistence, and effort. But at the same time, the journey shall be perceived as a learning process, with its own ups and downs.

As usual, when I write about something that sounds preach-y, it's because I'd like to remind myself of it, more than to you. And if you are a Muslim, then make sure to always remember, God is always by your side.

Saturday, July 30, 2011


Ramadan is coming again. I have written in my last Ramadhan post that I am nervous about my performance in this month. It only comes once per year and the feeling like you are not taking full advantage of the month, is like a feeling failure.

Speaking of a feeling of failure, I am reminded by my another "failure." Being a social worker is hard, and it requires you to have a high level of courage to advocate for your client. When you are working at a place where you are required to be passionate about it, as in working in a shelter home for the elderly, or an institution for orphans, in a juvenile rehab center, etc. You are required to look at your job as more than a job, because it is not. It is about helping the target group who is the reason why the institution exists in the first place.

Some public servants are very apathetic towards their job and many of them have the as-long-as-I-finish-my-job attitude. And this, I observe, cause them to want to settle down in their own comfort zone and will distress over having to do extra work. Unfortunately (or not), extra works are like a part of being a social worker because being a social worker requires you to have extra passion in what you are doing.

I have nothing more to say, other than, I was being warned because I referred a sick resident to get a medical attention. No, it's a simple job, everyone could do that, but because this resident lives in an institution, letters and documents have to be filed, and this is what they all want to avoid doing. Or maybe it's because of another reason why they have such attitude. I don't know. Whatever it is, it disappoints me.

Anyways, in this occasion, I would like to wish every Muslim a better Ramadan. A Ramadan where we fix the glitch in our personality, the errors in our slavery to Him, and the mistakes we made to others. I wish the best especially for residents in any welfare institutions.

Monday, July 25, 2011

We Are All Lonely

Some say that loneliness is a disease. It is so dangerous that because of that various other problems might ensue. Today I had an interesting chat where I found out that without them being connected, three people I spoke with share a common worry of being lonely.

1) A is a government servant who has been working at Penang for 12 years and has settled down a family live in this state as well. However, he has been promoted and will be posted to another state at another extreme side of Malaysia, Johor. He is excited about it, but he is concerned about how he'll cope living alone without his family.

2) B is also a government servant who has passed his prime age of working. However, although not in his retirement age, he is observed to be very well suited to be in life supported by his children. I wondered if it was about being independent and living on what he made. No, he kept working because he thought if he didn't, he'd stay alone at home and the feeling of loneliness might hurt him.

3) C is a teenager who has the habit of adding every girl he knows in his life (and send them flirty messages too, regardless they have a boyfriend) in his Facebook friends list. He is a resident in a juvenile rehab center and he said one of the way to cope with feeling isolated from friends who were all outside was to get the comfort from the idea that the girls might find him handsome and would like to get to know him better.

You see, all of these three people with whom I had a conversation with were married, popular among friends, never would have struck as the kind of person who might feel lonely in his life. So, I was thinking, if we all feel lonely at some point (if not all) of our lives, what makes some of us more vulnerable to the danger of loneliness?

Perhaps it has something to do with the way we adjust to being alone. Do we look at being alone as loneliness or as solitariness? Do we appreciate the time we have for ourselves or do we just want to get out from companyless time as soon as possible? Maybe after all just like beauty, being alone is in the heart of the beholder.

Sunday, July 17, 2011


I used to have a conversation with a resident at juvenile rehabilitation center where I am doing my practicum now and I asked, "Where do your parents live?" And what broke my heart was that he gently and awkwardly smile and answered, "They are divorced..."

You see, I would like to make a point in this entry and it is about the children who are sent to a "warehouse" like this center because they are "uncontrollable." Now answer this question, what constitutes "uncontrollable"? It is when your children throw a tantrum when they are not given what they want? Or when they run around and break a vase? Or when they go out with their friends until late night? Or when they talk back after you? No, these are the things that children normally do. And guess what, these are enough reasons to make the parents send their children off to this juvenile rehabilitation center.

I am not sure if I am making an immature conclusion but from what I have seen in my 2-month practicum, these children, or these teenagers act like normal teenagers. Of course some of them did some serious offence like robbing multiple houses as their criminal career, or being an addict, but let's say, the teenagers who are sent off here for this form around 40% of the whole community and the rest is all here because they are being "uncontrollable."

I do not dislike this place. In fact, it does a great job at teaching these children that every wrongdoing has a consequence (which can go too far), and these children's religious and cultural values are also strengthened. But I feel a bit disappointed at the parents who take the easy way of sending their children off to this center just because their children do not know the appropriate way of talking with their parents.

Of course I'm not a parent yet, and I can never begin to imagine the hassle of being a parent, but I'm living close enough with two sisters and a brother who all have children and their children sometimes are acting like these. It is what I call as being a child. If you're a child, you can't help but to see and perceive things and want the world to see and perceive things the way you do, and when you and the world have the different way of doing things, you might burst out. It's being a child. When you are giving birth to a child, it is pertinently your responsibility to balance off a bucket full of oil (a phrase from Malay language, "menatang minyak yang penuh" which means to educate and raise your child with love).

Spending times with them at a trip really open my eyes how much they need supports from the people they love. They are these wonderful beings who are not perfect. Many from these children witness their parents getting a divorce and they don't know how to respond to the fact that they are no longer going to be in the same home. So, they break out and break away from home and do stuffs that make them feel a little bit calmer like using drugs or picking a fight. It's called being a child.

I'm sure that every child has a pattern and if you, as their parent, take time to understand that, you will realize that your children can very much be very promising and have a bright future.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Mysterious Love

Love is a very mysterious emotion. It is high, it is low, it is helpless, it is hopeful, it is sexual, it is non-sexual, it is big, it is small, it is humane, it is materialistic. What love is makes up the whole world. That is what great about love. The feeling is so small, but very persistent that it slowly builds up in a platform (or what humans call as 'heart') until it is big enough for the feeling to be shared around the world.

Try to imagine, if not without the love of power and his people, how did Julius Caesar become one of the historical world's most powerful leaders? If not without the love of her children, how does a mother carry them around nine months in her womb? If not without the love of her students, how did Erin Gruwell manage to establish a strong organization, Freedom Writers Organization, that was based from a small class that was filled with hatred and racism? If not without the love of his lover, how is a man able to wait for his half across time and space?

Love is so visible yet so stealthy. Sometimes, love can be an unrequited thing in that it always appears without any supposed conditions and requirements. It is with its independent conjuring. It doesn't matter if you're old or young, poor or wealthy, good or less decent, love can come without any warning. And many times too, when it appears in a surprise, it leaves us wounded and hurt, especially when it goes away. Very far away.

Where does this put us anyway? The thing about love is that, it makes us passionate about someone or something, but love is not passionate with anything itself. It doesn't matter if it comes to the right or to the wrong person, it is not pertinent if it is attached to the good or evil, it just has to be somewhere. I guess this is one very question that can never be answered very truthfully: How do we know when a love is wrong? How can we be so sure when a love is right?

But no matter what is, one thing I am sure: 
Loving someone is human. 
So, I guess, we just have to cherish it when it comes.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011


My friend and I were searching for a theory that could be a basis for her thesis writing for her degree and we stumbled upon a theory that seemed to be very abstract and pointless at first, but offered a realistic view of human deviance. Strain Theory talks about how strains that humans experience in social structure, and how the interplay between socio-economic status and the resources to the attainment of social goals can very strongly influence people to resort to the wrongdoing.

Let me simplify it, people do bad things because sometimes they believe it's the only way to achieve a certain goal at that particular time. Doing my practicum at a conduct rehabilitation center, although every resident's story is different, but almost all stories share a common theme; they commit a crime in order to achieve something. Very rarely did they commit a crime because they felt like it, because of a hobby. When they realized that these illegitimate means of attaining their goals could be very fruitful, they settled with the comfort and experience and kept doing it for the outcome.

Try to think about it, if you see a case of juvenile delinquency, blaming the youth for the wrongdoing is not doing anyone any good. I ask myself, why would they resort to crime, knowing very well the possible consequences they might face? I believe the answer lies in the system. Try to answer these questions and then we might be a step closer to understanding juvenile delinquency in Malaysia.

1) Why do some people enjoy certain opportunities like education and some others don't?
2) In what ways does the Government make efforts to identify people with the unfulfilled basic needs?
3) Should we make education free in Malaysia?
4) Should we make basic utilities like water and electricity free in Malaysia?
5) Etc.

All of these questions show us how big of a role strains play in influencing a human's life. Basic needs, especially education is supposed to be easily available to every citizen in Malaysia. For me, the most practical solution in solving any problem, including juvenile delinquency, is education.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Free Will

"Free will is a gift you'll never how to use until you fight for it..."

This is a quote from a movie, "The Adjustment Bureau" that tells a story about a man who tries to fight all obstacles that come in his way in being with the love of his life. It sets a question that has been asked by philosophers and laymen altogether, "What is free will?"

I'm not a philosopher and I can never talk eruditely about philosophy whatsoever but this movie makes me think, how do fates and our free will interplay to create the life we have now? In an ordinary person's language, how many percents of influence and power do fate and free will have? I used to discuss with my friend about how if there is a "jodoh", you'll find your soulmate. We tried to answer the question, do we search for the partner of our life, or do we fight for him/her?

In Islam we are required to believe in Qada' and Qadar. These are the notions that our lives are predestined, but it doesn't mean we have to just let it be, we still need to make efforts upon something. What I understand is that (and please, if I'm wrong, feel free to correct me) everything is already written, and by our efforts and prayers, we can either stay in the presupposed condition, or we can "rewrite" it on the permission of Allah.

This movie really teaches me the value of fighting for your fate, or in a more familiar term, the value of fighting for your dream. I can't stop hearing people believing the notion that if it's too hard, it means you're not supposed to do it. Have you ever heard people say, "It's raining, it means we're not supposed to eat out..." or, "I failed again, I don't think I'm cut out for this," or, "You see, our car breaks down, it's a sign we're not supposed to go!" We are too easy to be tackled down and we're too easy to give up. But we rarely realize that giving up is a way of "writing" our fate for us to fail.

Remember this particular verse in Qur'an (the meaning is roughly translated from Rad : 11),

"Allah would not change the fate of a people until they change it themselves..."

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

When We Were Young

Take That released their mini album, with their single, "Love Love" being the theme song for X-Men's latest series part. Said that, this entry is not about Take That nor X-Men, but I'm particularly touched with one of Take That's song in their latest album, called "When We Were Young."

The main gist of the song is that when we children, everything seems simple and idealistic. We believe in superheroes and ultimate justice. We believe that good things happen to good people and that bad endings will always befall the unjust ones. We live in this fairy imaginations that guide our happiness and simplicity.

Yes, they are simple and colorful, but we as adults can learn so much from them. They are these "foolish fearless" who somehow only know the concept of consequences after doing something. I don't condone just doing things impulsively, but I don't condone living in fear too. Some of us, especially me, always worry about tomorrow and what it might bring us. In a way, these worries always stop us from really enjoying things.

As adults, we learn how to act in accordance to the results that will occur after that, but it can be too much that it's the only thing that we ever think of. I just wonder, are we too adult? Why is it so hard for us to see things as they seem, and to see every day as a dream? Rather we overanalyze things to be what they are not, and every day is a fearful passing time.

Balancing between your adult self and your inner child can be an art. How wonderful it can be if we know how to be careful, but see things as how children see... colorfully.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

The Dilemma of Writing

One of the things that I want to be when I grow up is a writer. I love writing because since I'm a person who cannot very much speak that laudably, I can express my feelings and opinions better by writing them. But who knows, writing has its own price. Try to think, when you write, you become so invested with it that you let your thought, imagination, and creativity run freely. Some people let them run too much that it becomes a piece that hurts other people. It becomes a piece that destroys relationships.

I always wonder how writers (such as journalists, creative writers, etc) write and still have to face their emotional and ethical dilemma in day-by-day basis. When they write something, they don't just involve their own selves, but also the subjects whom they are writing about. And the topics that they have to write about are not always safe, but can be very controversial and emotion-provoking in nature. In brief, the scopes of their writing is something that hurts others, and when this happens, you ruin the reputation you have, not as a writer only, but as a human being.

I don't have much to talk about this issue, but I promise myself I'll learn better. There is someone who I hurt and I think I have betrayed his trust. I am truly deeply sorry for what I wrote and I hope my entries in the future will be something that are professional and beneficial in nature.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

The Art of Accepting Your Friends

First of all, a disclaimer for all of you who read this entry. I will be using, as my lecturer used to describe, "bombastic" words because right now I am learning the words that are common in Graduate Record Examination (GRE). I believe remembering them by using them in contexts and sentences are more effective than blind memorizing. And I'm sorry if some of these words are not used correctly. I highlight these words in case you are also interested to know what those words are.

So, this week I would like to expatiate on the issue of friendship, again. I was pondering on the question: How do you unexceptionably accept your friends? We are humans and humans err. We are all conceded with the fact that each one of us is fraught with weaknesses. Not one weakness, but sundry weaknesses. Each one of us has a way of galling others, be it talking too much, being egoic, being indifferent to birthdays, grudging, and so on. I, for one, has been very sentient of my own and my friends' foibles and faulty nature. The thing is, I have been noticing something pronounced about myself, that is I am vigilant and very sensitive to the faults of others. I know it's not good.

So, I was thinking, if they could annoy me in a way, I must have my own way nettling them. Therefore, if they could assent to the way I am, why can't I do the same to them? It is the art of accepting your friends as the way they are. The trick is, how do you modulate your emotions from getting waxed from the annoying behavior that they do, if they do it? Especially when you are close to someone, noticing an irritating behavior can be inevitable. To be honest, I don't have the answer. You can find a lot of tips, exhortation, opinions and so on, but at the end of the day, what you have to do is to really make it as a facile practice and stop flouting every one friendship that you have in your life. I am still a fledgling friend, I am still learning the art.

This entry is just purely to remind me myself and everyone out there on one of the ways to find joy in your friendships with others. I hope it's useful to you to a certain magnitude.

Meaning of the words:

Ponder - think
Unexceptionably - generally acceptable
Err - to make mistake
Conceded - to be given with something (usually unpleasant)
Fraught - filled with
Sundry - several, many
Galling - annoying
Egoic - self-centered,
Grudging - stingy
Sentient - sensitive
Foibles - weaknesses
Pronounced - very noticeable
Nettling - annoying
Assent - accept
Modulate - regulate
Waxed - increased
Exhortation - advices
Facile - accomplished
Flouting - rejecting
Fledgling - unexperienced and still learning
Magnitude - extent

Saturday, May 14, 2011

The Meaning of Serenity

How do you define serenity? How do you differentiate serenity from happiness? How do you achieve a state of serenity within your inner psyche?

These questions might be what many of you (and me obviously, or I wouldn't write this entry) have been asking your whole life. Different persons have the different kinds of views on how an individual can achieve a stable state of serenity. Serenity is the state, for me, where you know everything happens for a reason and that you can achieve acceptance without giving up. I don't know about you, but I get my definition of serenity from this old-timey Islamic song that I have been listening to since years ago.

Basically, this song's basic gist is that in every condition, we need to exercise humility.

When you feel difficult, you are not nerve-stricken...
When you're poor, you're still grateful...
When you're sick, you're not restless...
When you're rich, you're generous...
When you're in power, you're trustworthy...
When you're successful, you don't forget...
When you're healthy, you don't abandon God...

The best line that I have been amazed over and over is this one,

"Serenity is when you can understand the art of God's work..."

The point of this line is, many of us blame the Higher Power whenever they are in distress. In some worse cases, they even abandon their religion because they're losing their faith toward God. But, how many of us who could actually understand how in all these challenging processes, God has provided us with a bigger life meaning? How many realize that God has drawn a life journey for us to embark so we can reach to the final destination with a happy ending? It's true, God's work is an art and just like any art, it has to be appreciated, and it has to be understood.

So, if you feel unhappy, submit yourself to God and see what He has in store for you. Discover and explore life and find out what God has kept for you. Everything happens for a reason, and no matter how much of a cliché this sentence is, it's still true. Start appreciating the substance of it.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Friendship Is Earned, Truly

So, I used to write an entry on friendship before, and I defined friendship as more than a person you meet casually. Friendship is emotional and it should have emotional component. I have thought about it lately and I can't help but wonder if friendships are predestined life courses. Of course as a Muslim, I believe that everything that happens in this life is a fate, and there must also be our own hands to contribute to the direction of the fate. But are friendships more "fate" than "efforts"?

I have a dear friend at USM who had been in a best-friendship with a certain person in our class. They had been together being best friends for more than five years and that should count for something right? But a particular issue that happened several weeks ago made them far apart, and now just two acquaintances who say hi to each other on the street. How could this happen? My friend asked. "We've been together in so many ups and downs. We knew about each others' good and bad. But only now, when we love each other, care about each other, then we have to have our friendship demoted to a lower status?"

As a close friend to this person, I am certain that she is not a person who likes to make enemies, nor does she like to even have a minor conflict. She is very kind and compassionate. But when she is given a chance of an opportunity that her ex-best friend was dying to get a shot for, everything changed.

You see, my point is, my friend was a hard worker when it comes to friendship. She loves her friends and she cares about her friends (note: friends, not acquaintances), and she considers them, especially her best friends as her own family. But still, fate intervenes and has to cut them apart. This happened a lot in my life too. I had a bunch of best friends in my previous universities but now, we barely contacted each other through Facebook (although in my case, it was mostly my fault and their fault equally). What does this mean?

Perhaps it means, we're not in total control of the friendships in our life. They are, no matter how much effort we put in, still a subject of fate. We can't predict the future of even the strongest friendship there is, even more the ones that just bloom. So, what should we do in the event of this? So, appreciate the friends you have now.  We very frequently take some of them for granted and only when we lose them, then we realize how much they mean to us. But it's too late. Still, make effort to make your friends feel like they're a part of your lives, hoping that when you do that, fate (I hope by now, you understand by "fate," I mean God) knows that your effort should be worth your friendship.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

When Can You Be Truly Self-Determined?

One of the values social workers are taught to hold strongly is self-determination. It is a principle that tells the practitioners that their clients have the right to not be forced into deciding or acting anything. Clients of social work, or any other fields, should have the freedom to choose "their own economic, social, and cultural development" (International Work Group for Indigenous Affairs, n.d., para. 2). Note the word "development." What does it entail then? In social work practice, the outcome of services should preferably be social functioning. Hence, the logical conclusion we can see here is that, one of the social work values is people's right to determine their own ways of developing that promote their own social functioning.

If you read one of my entries lately titled, "Sometimes, We're Trying So Hard Not to Be Judgmental" where I argued that every social worker should be able to exercise a healthy degree of "judgmental capacity" for certain service advantages. But this seems to oppose one of the dear values abovementioned, self-determination. What I can argue further is that, self-determination comes after social functioning. It means the clinets have the capacity to know what's best for them in order to decide for themselves. I'm sure you'll agree that we don't apply self-determination on children and mentally-challenged individuals right? I don't intend to compare certain clients to being childish or mentally challenged, but we're not perfect, we can't know everything. Until we're trained to be be knowledgeable on certain issues, we can't fully be sure if what we decide or act upon is the best thing we do. 

For example, a young highschool leaver is trying to decide which college is the best for him. Can you be confident in telling that this young man has the capacity to decide what is best for him without knowing a discernible amount of knowledge on colleges and universities in his place? If we're to fully practice the notion of self-determination, we'll just let this man decide and be the decision good or bad for him, we shall not judge. 

But for me, of course you, as a social worker, have to educate this young man on the issue. Not just about colleges, but as a scientific practitioner, you have to be able to see the options that are the best for him psychologically and socially. Some social work academicians would argue that after educating, then the choice if up to the client. But for me, as an advocate for the client, we do not just defend his rights if threatened by other parties, we defend his own social functioning too if threatened by "his own self." But of course before all this, we have to be scientifically and personally sure that some options are the best for the young man, and that these options are also the conclusion of his own opinions and feedback too. 

Social workers are not working for the clients, they're working with the clients. They're not the clients' slaves, but their partners. So as much as the clients' opinions are valuable and should be taken into account, the social workers' are too.

Thursday, April 21, 2011


Last night, my friends and I were talking about how the past love life can make someone's current love life right now as how it is. Many of my friends are now settling down with a stable partner whom they will spend the rest of their life with (Ameen!). But one common factor that brings all of them to where they are right now is they have all been hurt.

I watched Raising Hope, episode 18 where Maw Maw, one resident of the house who has Alzheimer's disease, said to her grandchild,

"They wouldn't call it falling in love if you didn't get hurt sometimes."

That is true. That is a spot-on statement about love. And that message made me smile and hopeful about everyone's love life. Where in the world can you actually find a person who settles down with their first love? Even if there are, there must be some obstacles that this couple has to overcome. There must have been ups and downs. There must have been hurt. But then, all these challenges taught them a lesson and matured them. Although it was painful to bear the tears and sadness, but you most likely right now would just look back with a smile.

So, a message for everyone out there, if you guys feel lonely, if you feel like you are not succeeding in your love life, if you feel like it is a lot of work, remember, always remember, it is now. There will be a time in the future (God's willing) where the pain you feel right now is a distant memory in the future.

Just keep holding on.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Sometimes, We're Trying So Hard Not to Be Judgmental

Several days ago, I had an academic debate with one of my friends. The proposition was as follows: "Should social worker just comply to what the client WANTS?"

My friend was a supporter of the notion that social workers should respect everything that the client wishes to do and if possible, to help the client to get it too. The example topic that we discussed was a man who had a high blood pressure but still wanted to eat red meat. So, my friend said that it is a social worker's responsibility to present to the client the pros and cons of every option and decision and after that, it is up to the client on what he or she wishes to choose. Even if he chose to still eat red meat, then social worker needs to respect that.

And I am a believer of the notion that sometimes, you have to tell the client that some of what he or she wants is not good for herself. So, even if the client still wanted to eat red meat, the social worker's task is to do whatever he or she could to try to prevent it (in ethical manner of course).

You see, I think both my friend and I were somehow true in our arguments. My friend was arguing on the basis of avoiding judgment getting in the way of intervention, because when the social worker tries to prevent the client from eating red meat, that might be just purely the social worker's own belief about what is right and what is wrong. While I was arguing on the ground that advocates on his social functioning. That eating red meat might hinder him from being healthy, which might affect the dynamics of his family, his work and whatever else effect health issue had on the client's life.

What I can observe is that, Social Work has values that can be so extreme (which is caused by the social workers themselves). These values, at one point, can be contradictory to each other. In one hand, we are asked not to be judgmental and not to exercise our own belief and judgment about what is right and what is wrong in the interventions we are developing for our clients. On the other, we are asked to ensure that our intervention is solely on the purpose of attending to the client's need and ensure that the client's social functioning is enhanced, or restored.

So, the question here, are we trying so hard not to be judgmental? Are we trying so hard not to let the personal value comes in until we're completely detached from the practice itself? For me, personal value can be useful in certain degree.

1) When a social worker has personal values, it means the social workers has experienced moral development that can help him or her see the right and wrong thing in general. Of course, by doing this, the social worker needs to be scientific and backs up the argument with scientific support. The social worker must have the knowledge about what red meat might do to a person with a high blood pressure. So, his personal value is that red meat is bad for the client. So, consulting a doctor, the social worker develops an intervention that has something to do with a healthier diet. Then, one of the responsibilities of the social worker is that to prevent the client from further harming himself with the red meat diet.

2) Personal values are somewhat the end result of professionalism. Without the ability to store a moral memory, then how do the social workers understand the importance of professionalism in the first place? Personal values can be beneficial in practice, because for me, if you really want to help your client, you must have compassion, and compassion is a personal value. Therefore, what I can conclude here is that what the literature has said about how personal values can hinder from professional practice is the ones that involve biasness in decision making like when you have revenge on the client, or even when, for me, you are indifferent with the client. So, let's ask ourselves, if you have to be indifferent with your clients, how do you actually help them? So, at the end of the day, you still need to be compassionate and passionate with what you're doing right? Isn't that a personal value?

So, for me, an extreme form of everything is bad. So, extremely being non-judgmental, and extremely relying on your personal value can be bad equally. If you really want to be in a helping profession, then make sure you check that your moral compass is in a healthy level. And of course, all this is based on my personal thoughts.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

You Are Not Superior When You Forgive

Do you notice a lot of people feel superior at the event of forgiving and their counterpart apologizing? Without being too scientific, when a person forgives and feels that forgiving means he or she is on the "right" side, this actually backfires and can ruin the newly fixed relationship.

It's one thing not to want to forgive because you feel you've done nothing wrong (which is a form of superiority), then when you actually forgive, you feel like the whole relationship should be adjusted to the way you want it to be. You set conditions, and expecting that the conditions are fulfilled without any possibility of amending. I knew this one person, who after forgave her friend, set a condition, "I'm glad that we're okay now, but we can't be like before, at least not now." Try to deeply analyze this sentence. Upon hearing this, I wonder why does she have to preset the condition? Why can't she let it be as it is? When I usually made amends with my friends, I know I can just let it be, as in if we can't feel close yet, so we can't feel close yet, if we can rekindle already, so we will rekindle. Why do I want to set it to "no rekindling and feeling close like before yet" no matter if it's possible or not? Do you see my point?

You see, if you feel like you're "more noble" than the other person because you're forgiving, then don't. Don't forgive at all. Don't bother to think about "finally replying your friend's apology message because it's time for you to forgive". There is no time for you to forgive, it's now. If you think you should be the one who set the time, then, again, don't bother.

Just my message to superior-feeling pricks in the world, especially in Malaysia. I hope I do not belong in this category and I hope my dear friends who color my life currently, do not belong in this category too.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

The Inevitable Bitterness

Oh my, this past few days, I really really can't stop Take That's The Flood from going around my mind serenading to my recent experience. Well, as I said, it might be due to the fact that the song fits perfectly well to what is happening to me right now. I lost a good friend, to simply put. What I really don't understand is how each day both of us become bitter and bitter. Everything happened between us. Well, she forged questionnaires of a research that we both supposedly had to work together. We tried so hard to hurt each other. I tried so hard to make sure that she got the point I had been making all this while. I decided to hurt her even more by reporting her to the supervisor of ours. Yes, we did all that. We did all the bitterness. We were the epitome of true cat-and-dog kind of fight who can't seem to forgive each other. Everything, except one. Except sit and talk. Just sit and talk.

You see, when I think about the evolution of our friendship - from close and good friends to two bitter nemeses who keep trying to prove a point - I realize something, I did not do what I preach. If you remember my entry, Contact Hypothesis, where I advocated the point where one person can find his prejudice and unreasonable disliking diminished by simply having an interpersonal contact with that hate target. It takes knowing - or reknowing - that person we dislike in order to be able to open up for a friendship, or forgiveness in my case.

What both my friend and I did all this time was avoid significant contact with each other and make sure that if there was anything to refer to, we made it as brief as possible. So, this was the disease that prolonged the bitterness all the way. I also contributed the part where the nemesis of mine felt as if there was no hope so a reconciliation, by my own behaviors.

So, I'm preaching again here. Take this as a lesson. Do not let fear obscure your goal to achieve good relationship with people.Do not let ego in your way of forgiveness. If you, my nemesis, happen to read this, please be assured that I am genuinely sorry for all the hurt and harm that I've done. Forgive me as I have forgiven you. If God wills, I hope we can be able to see each other in the eyes again and smile...

Sunday, April 3, 2011

A List of Songs That Inspire Me

Ok, my whole life I have been listening to songs. Some are bad, some are listenable, and some others just stand the hell out and put themselves in the favorite songs folder that I have. These songs are not just amazing melodically, they inspire me, which is an important characteristic for me to stick to listening a song for a long time, perhaps for the rest of my life. By the way, these is the list that pick me up when I am down.

1) Kelly Clarkson - Breakaway

From my own interpretation of the song, it tells a story of a girl who couldn't wait to break out from the shell and go out and explore the world. She was a nobody until she achieved something and a lot of people respected her for that. It basically tells us that you just need to keep doing it until you "reach the sky".

2) OneRepublic - Marchin' On

This song compares the life journey that never gets exhausted (well, except death of course) to a marching squad. The whole song is embellished with the sound of foot marching forward, hence the point of this song. From what I understand, this song tells us that no matter how crappy our past is, no matter how many mistakes we made, no matter how big or small they are, we are still here, moving forward. More than likely, we'll look back and smile.

3) Outlandish - Try Not To Cry

This songs captures my feelings of the war between countries in the world so perfectly that in some occasions, tears are shed. What makes me relate to this song is the one verse it says in the lyrics, "How can it be? Has the whole world turned blind? Or is it just 'cause it only affected my kind?" And I, the writer of this blog, belong to the kind that it said in the song.

4) Coldplay - Fix You

The vocal of this band, Chris Martin, originally wrote this song because of his wife's, Gwyneth, father's passing. The song basically tells the listener that the singer will always be there for her forever. What attracts me to the song is the anthemic characteristic of the song that penetrates straight to my heart. It tells the listeners that don't give up because "lights will guide you home".

5) OneRepublic - All Fall Down

What's so inspiring about this song is that it is very realistic. What it is trying to tell the audience is that, if you ever fall down, don't lose hope because well, everyone falls down. It is true actually. Who in the world has tasted a lifelong happiness? Noone! Whatever we feel, whatever we experience, it'll last so long. But the important thing is, to find someone whose should you can rely on when you fall down to help you stand up again.

6) Take That - The Flood

Take that has struck me as a band who always tries to be inspirational in their songs. This is especially tells us to keep going although challenges never get out of our ways. This is another song that sounds anthemic and it gives you the goosebumps which rarely occurs to me.

There are a lot of other songs that make me feel good and inspired, however, this is what I remember now. I hope all of you who are reading can benefit from them just how I do everytime I listen.