Is it me or does there seem to be a general increase in fear, paranoia, anxiety, depression? Are people getting more and more worried? Are we getting increasingly scared? Is society facing greater mental health issues? Is the news getting progressively more violent and morbid?
We have now reached a stage where my wife cannot watch the news for more than a few minutes before asking the channel to be changed to The Big Bang Theory or The Great British Bake Off, basically to anything that will mask the pain of the reality surrounding us because we all fail to live peacefully.
She cannot bear to see news about comedians committing suicide, tyrants committing genocide, taxi drivers committing child abuse, and the rest. And neither can I, to be honest.
Below are some examples and quotes about this rising state of apprehension and angst. Whilst there is an element of depression and negativity, I hope the last quote will provide some crumb of spiritual comfort.
For what it’s worth, enjoy…
Susie Pearl in an article entitled ‘Modern Success: How It Can Screw Us Up and Squash True Happiness’, says:
Stress is becoming the number one health killer in our modern world…For many of us, life is a continuous drip feed of arranging more things to do – working harder, more meetings, more output, taking the kids out more to keep them busy, buying more stuff, eyeing up the latest must-have goodies.
David Macaray, in a recent article (well worth a read) says:
…politicians and the media have basically conditioned us to be afraid of everything: Young black men, skinheads, hippies, China, immigrants, socialists, Halloween candy, trans fats, transsexuals, melting glaciers, inflation, unemployment, labor unions, taxes, nudists, Moslems, having our identity stolen, and the prospect of living an “unfulfilled” life.
He goes on to say that, whilst modernity has made much progress…
modern man has to acknowledge that at any given point in time there are about 300 things out there that frighten us. It’s true. When we contemplate it, we realize that most of the time we’re walking around scared shitless.
Here’s Russell Brand on the Jonathan Ross Show echoing very similar views to David Macaray:
The first thing I discovered is that they need us to believe that there’s no alternative. As long as we believe there’s no alternative we’ll shut up. As long as we’re grateful that we’re not being butchered in the streets, and that there’s the threat of Islam, and there’s the threat of gays, and there’s all sorts of threats, and the immigrants are taking our jobs, then we’ll sit down and we’ll shut up. Because we don’t think there’s an alternative…We’ve been striped up, marked off, and turned into passive little consumers, and I’ve had enough.
The comedian Dylan Moran, from his stand up show Yeah Yeah, gives his twisted opinions about life in the modern world:
Who can sleep? Who sleeps? Really, if you’re a proper grown-up person in the 21st century and you’re an adult human being, how can you relax at all? The mind keeps churning. You think “What if this thing happens? Um-hmm? What if that thing happens? What if they happen together? What if I lose my job? I hate my fucking job, but what if I lose it?”
Your mind is a hive of worms and worms don’t live in a hive so it already feels unnatural.
You lie in bed, you’re beside your partner…This thing, that thing…“What if I died?” If you don’t have a partner, you just think “What if I died?…Okay, I would be dead.” But if you do have a partner, and a family, you think “What if I died? How would they cope? How would they? They wouldn’t. They would be out on the street in half an hour stealing food from seagulls’ mouths. Or worse, they would cope! They’d have a much nicer, cleaner house. And an improved sense of self-worth. Probably more money.
Finally, here is a quote from my favourite Islamic scholar Shaykh Hamza Yusuf, from a speech he made at the Islamic Society of North America annual convention in 2013. I am hoping this video, which is less than 5 minutes, offers some inspiration to Muslims and non-Muslims alike:
I’ve heard a lot of Muslims lately say “I’m so depressed”. I was recently in Arabia and I have a Muslim friend, he was a very active Muslim, and I said: “What are you doing these days?” He said: “No…I’m…I just…I’ve given up.” That’s what he said to me. He said “I’ve given up. I’m…I’ve had enough…you know…there’s no hope.” I grabbed him, and I shook him, literally, physically, and people who know me know that I am very capable of doing that. I shook him and I said to him “What do you mean there’s no hope?”
If you want a bid’ah [an unwanted innovation], hopelessness is a bid’ah. We are a religion of hope. We live on hope.
Every time you’re depressed or you say there’s no hope, what you’re saying to every African that was brought over in chains and survived the transatlantic crossing and came here and lived in slavery, and marched to get their civil rights, you’re saying to them “that was all a waste of time.”
If you’re depressed you’re dishonouring all those Andalusians who were chased out of what was called paradise at the time, they were chased out of Andalusia, but they made new lives for themselves in Tunisia, in Morocco, and today you have Andalusian families that hail from Andalusia, just like you have Palestinians here that were chased out of their homes.
You are dishonouring all of those Indians that migrated to Pakistan with the hope of a better life.
You are dishonouring the Afghanis that have lived in over 30 years of war, and they are still trying to hold their heads high.
We can’t do that: “there’s no room for hope”. I’m in it till the last breath. I’m in it till the last breath. Because in that last breath, and I pray to God that Allah subhanawata’ala [May He be glorified and exalted] gives me on my last breath: “Ashadu an la ilaha ill Allah wa ashadu anna Muhammadan rasulullah” [There is no God except Allah, and Muhammad is His Messenger], because I believe in the promise of God, I believe that His prophet was true, I believe that hell is true and that the fire is true, and that the day of judgement is true, and I testify to the truth of the seerah [life of the Prophet], that we will be weighed in the balance, and there will be those who are found wanting, and there will be those who are given grace, and there will be the out-strippers.
These are all true things that every prophet has taught and I believe in them, and I will hold to them till I die, and the struggle continues. This world was never meant to be Paradise. God has created a world that is meant to drive you to God, and if you’re been being driven to the devil you’ve been duped my friends, because all of the hardships that you suffer in your life, if you believe in God, you will find those rewards on the day of judgement.
I was in Abu Dhabi in a taxi and I said to the taxi driver: “Where are you from?” He said: “Darra” and I said to him: “I hope that your family is safe”. He said: “The house caved in on them, my father was killed. I’ve worked 12 years and every month I sent everything I could back to my father to build that house and it was destroyed. I feel like my whole life is a waste.” I said to him: “Ya akhi [Oh brother], you were in filial piety to your parents. Believe in the promise of Allah subhanawata’ala. What you are doing is not to build in this world. If you build for this world, what you build will go to nought. We build for the next world, not for this world. If my college in California is destroyed by an earthquake, so be it, so be it. But we are builders for the akhira [the next life], and this is the place where we do it.