Charity begins at home

Pakistan has always been in trouble for one reason or another. Be it the chronic issue of corrupt governments, military interference, law and order crisis, the unjust justice system, or economic downfall, unfortunately, the list goes on. In the last few years, post the awakening of the commoner who is using social media to raise his voice against the aforementioned critical issues ailing our country; undoubtedly, there is a level of accountability that is experienced, and even though problems that are raised mostly remain limited to trending news on Twitter, it is a step nonetheless that one hopes will promise a different Pakistan for our children.
These days the most common dinner conversation revolves around inflation and how increasingly difficult it is to provide the basics to one’s family. I have yet to meet anyone, professionally or personally, who is not blowing the trumpet around the inflation monster bent on feeding on us. Inflation is a reality. This is a severe concern to most of this country, excluding the small percentage of the affluent unaffected by the economic crisis.
The middle class is crashing, and people experiencing poverty are getting poorer. There is a collective depression and anger towards the state and other stakeholders who we believe are responsible for bringing Pakistan to its knees. Sadly, we have hit rock bottom; it doesn’t apply to us because, in our case, the rock bottom keeps getting deeper, and the future is as bleak as the current state of affairs. Every day we wake up with a sinking feeling expecting more bad news than the day before. Day in and out, we blame and complain and express our helplessness to the movers and shakers of this country who will decide the fate of Pakistan.
I understand all these emotions evoked by the constant state of trigger the Pakistanis are experiencing. My question to my fellow brothers and sisters is only one: what are we doing to change the situation? ‘What can we do? We have no authority. How can one person bring change.’ These are some of the common responses that most of us have to such a question.
Yes, I agree that one person cannot impact an exponential change, but is it possible that a small step can go a long way? How many of us who are cribbing about inflation daily have brought a conscious change in our lifestyles? I will only share one example today: our home food. This Ramzan, all my friends’ houses I was invited to for Iftari had dinner tables adorned by at least eight to ten dishes. I am guilty of throwing lavish tea parties that cost the same as the salary of an average worker in Pakistan. Our children order food day and night while the parents complain about ‘mehngai.’ Can we take one step towards changing this and start to be more generous towards the underprivileged? For example, instead of spending at least five thousand on fast food for the family twice a week, how about doing that once and giving that amount instead of the second time to buy groceries for a low-income family? How about simplifying our dinner parties, not succumbing to peer pressure, and feeding those already overfed and those around us struggling to eat daily?
There are countless other ways to support each other in this challenging time that goes beyond giving charity in the name of zakat and sadqa. It’s a change in attitude that’s required. It’s convenient to sit in comfortable rooms and watch tv on our big plasma screens while complaining of weight gain as we have more food than we need and expressing our distress over the state of affairs. Let’s change ourselves first, and as a first step, notice and introspect how we live and can simplify our lifestyles. Can we buy only one dress on Eid rather than one each for Eid days two and three and give the same amount to needy families so they can have a decent meal on Eid?
I intend to be a more responsible citizen of my country and be more personally conscious of changing my lifestyle to be more inclusive of others. Let’s encourage each other to do the same and collectively work towards building Pakistan rather than waiting for a miracle to strike to turn us into a prosperous nation. Charity begins from home.

The writer is a BACP (British Association For Counselling and Psychotherapy) accredited individual and couple psychotherapist based in Islamabad. She can be reached at or her official website.

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