Wednesday, May 29, 2013

The Garbage Collectors

Have you ever wondered what would happen if the garbage collectors didn't collect the garbage in your neighbourhood once, just once?

Wouldn't that be awful?

That was the question asked to me by my mother. A simple question that shifted my perspective on the idea of work.

Making the Right Choice for University


How to make the right choice for university?

Disclaimer: I am not an expert and I don’t claim to be one. What I’m about to say is mostly based on retrospection and personal experience. So please don’t take it as facts. Take it as an opinion to consider.

When we talk about university or education in general, we can’t separate the conversation from talking about career as if the degree that you get at the end of university will determine your career path. That is not entirely true.

Often times, life is not that simple even though we like to think that it is.

I know a friend who is majoring in Biology, minoring in Earth Science and Sociology, but he wanted to be a graphic designer. In fact, he’s already getting paid for doing it so technically he’s already started his career as a freelance graphic designer.

So, there you go.

Say that you want to choose a university on the basis of what kind of career you want to pursue afterwards. There are two things that I want to say about that:

#1 What is Your Passion?

When it comes to careers, my logic is simple – if I want to do something for the rest of my life, then it better be something that I love doing and something that I am good at.

If I don’t enjoy doing something, it is unlikely that I will invest my creative energy in it. To me, it doesn’t make sense to commit to something that I don’t even like. It’s like marrying someone you’re not interested in.

So the first question that I’ll ask myself is: what is my passion? Or, what are my passions? Because one person can have more than one passion.

Don’t choose something because it’s easy or because that’s what your friend chose or because that’s the most popular job out there or because that’s the job that has the biggest paycheck.

If you’re not passionate about it, then it’s just not worth it. You’ll dread going to work every day. It’ll be torture.

You will count the days and look forward to the weekends.

#2 How are You Going to Contribute to the Community?

Personally, this is what makes a particular job valuable to me. It’s not the amount of money that the job generates, but it’s whether or not through doing that job you can benefit the community where you live.

The best people is those who are most beneficial to the community and that includes the rich and the poor. Anyone and everyone.

Serving other people is a wonderful and a noble profession, and service can be manifested in a number of ways – from the smallest of jobs to the biggest of jobs. Look around you, see what the community needs, and try to fulfill that need.

That's essentially it.

Find what it is that you’re passionate about and use that passion to benefit the community.

Let that be the guide that you use to choose which university is the best for you, which program is the best for you, and which career is the best for you.

The rest is up to you. It's your choice. It's your life.


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Wednesday, May 22, 2013

The Internet: A Blessing Or A Curse?

Photo by altemark

A Powerful Tool

We need to remember that the internet is a very, very, very powerful tool - for better or for worse.

Through the internet, you can start a revolution that will free your country from tyranny. Through the internet, you can organize a charity drive and gain hundreds of thousands of dollars within a few days. Through the internet, you alone can spread good and healthy messages to millions from all over the world.

And through the internet, you can do Harlem Shake.


We owe it to ourselves to use it wisely. A tool is only as good as the person using it.

A Tool, The User, and The Manual

Anything that is a tool can be used for either good or bad (or naughty). Whenever a tool is not used for what it was designed for, the situation almost always goes downhill from there.

Take a knife for example - a very useful tool. But if you give it to a person who doesn't know how to do it, or a person who uses it for wrong reasons, you will get great harm from it.

That is where the manual comes in.

Every tool has a manual, a guide, as to how to use it properly. There is no such thing as absolute freedom. You can't have absolute freedom, otherwise the world will be chaos.

You need boundaries. You need limits.

Take a car as another example. A car has a manual and within that manual, you will know what it can and can't do. You will know what it was designed for, the functions of its various parts, and how to maintain the car. You will know the boundaries and limits of the car.

You don't use a car to crash into buildings. It was not made for that purpose. You don't use your average car for racing too, because it is limited in terms of durability and speed.

Following the manual will ensure not only the safety of the driver, but also the safety of the passengers and other people around.

So yeah, it is not a small thing at all. Sometimes it could be a matter of life and death.

The Internet's Manual

But what about the internet? Does it have a manual?

Technically, no. It is not "manufactured" with a manual or a guide. However, we do have legislation and laws that sort of govern how the internet should be used. So in a way, you could consider it as a "manual".

But I believe, the real manual for the internet (or for anything for that matter) is the heart.

The state of the heart will determine how the internet is used. Why the heart? Because unlike the car, there is no police to chase you when you do something wrong. You can easily get away with things on the internet. Unless you do stuff that is very, very wrong that the FBI needs to hunt you down. But even then, you can still get away.

So who/what is the police of the heart?

My answer to that is the heart polices itself, and the best police of the heart is a God-conscious heart. A God-conscious heart will default towards what's right and will fear the possibility of committing wrong. Even if no one was around and you can easily get away from people; the heart knows that it can never get away from God.

God Knows. 

God knows - from the biggest of the big to the smallest of the small.

That fact provides both comfort and fear.

It provides comfort because despite what others know, we know that God knows about our struggles and our successes. The only consolidation and acknowledgement that we need.

It provides fear because we don't want to displease God, just like we don't want to displease the person we love most. It aches us to see the one we love most displeased with us because of us.

Is the internet a blessing or a curse? The answer to that question lies in the answer to this question: is God pleased or displeased with how you're using it?

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Moving Up in Education

Revised Bloom's Taxonomy

My Sociology professor showed us this pyramid in class today. It's the revised version of Bloom's Taxonomy. It is a useful tool to evaluate how students (i.e. us) are doing in school. The further up we go in this pyramid, the better we are at grasping the knowledge.

When I look at this pyramid and think about the education system that I'm currently in, I can't help but think that I may be lingering mostly on the bottom of the pyramid (Remembering/Memorizing).

The best that I have been to is probably the Applying level (I might even poke into the Analyzing level a little bit), partly due to the help of teachers and my own personal motivation. I believe both elements are essential in order to move up the pyramid - mentor's support and personal motivation. If I'm not interested in the subject, I won't invest my energy in it. If I don't have my mentor's support, I may get lost.

But still, why can't I go further up even if I have both? I believe one of the main factors is the 3rd element - the system. The system calls for something other than the building up of unique individual minds. The system paints all students in one color. The system calls for remembering and memorizing in order to ace the exams. After all, that's what matters most right? At least, that's what we're being educated towards.

If we want to change this, then we must educate ourselves away from the current path the system pushes us towards - from being memorizing robots to being creative humans. Great individuals in our history weren't memorizers, they were creators. They create and develop ideas. They make the world a better place.

My rant for the day.

I hope we can go all the way up the pyramid. Insha Allah.

Sunday, May 05, 2013

5/5/2013 - Malaysian General Election

Photo by Umar Mita

1. Don't vote for a party just because your parents are voting for that party. 

A legal voter is at least 21 years old. I hope that person is mature enough to think for him/herself.

Allah commands us to have ihsan (excellence) with our parents. That does not mean that we nod our heads and agree with everything. There is also ihsan in disagreements if one exercises Prophetic manners.

2. Don't vote based solely on popularity or current trend.

Educate yourself. Listen to all sides, consider them, perform istikharah (recommended), and make a decision.

3. Don't hold any ill-feelings towards those who don't support the same party as you do. 

What kind of environment are we creating for future generations if two people who support different parties can't get along? What maturity are we displaying in that?

If a person wants to vote Party A, then respect his/her decision. It's his/her right to do so. You can try to convince him/her to change his/her mind, but the final say doesn't rest on you.

Disagreements don't necessarily make enemies.

4. Mind your own business. 

Don't go around asking people which party they're voting for (or against).

That's all.

Lets exercise our right, and lets exercise it wisely.