Interesting discussion


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As you grow older you tend to appreciate the beauty of silence. Silence so deep that the only thing you can hear are your thoughts, and the occasional birdsong outside the window. Silence, as a response to questions you can’t start to fathom, let alone find words to express your opinions about them; like what has the world come to. At least by being silent, you are not adding to the sound pollution, even though you know that sound pollution is not the world’s biggest problem right now, but at least you’re making a contribution somehow.
“I don’t know what to say.” Has become your default because you really don’t know what to say. You can cry out and yell and try to say something but if nobody is listening, what’s the point? And if people do listen but nobody is willing to understand, what’s the point? Or if people do listen and do understand but what you say doesn’t change anything, then what’s the point?
So resort to silence.
Because sometimes, silence is the best answer you can give.



A Swiping Generation

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Toddlers are intuitive when it comes to the touch screen. They seem to learn how to use ipads without much instruction. All they have to do is hold them and experiment. But if they become too addicted to these touch screens, do they go through life thinking that there’s a huge invisible screen in front of everything? Do they end up swiping at everything else outside the screen?

If you’ve dealt with children then you’ll know the answer is (amusingly) yes, but can you blame them? Then there is another question that parents need to ask themselves, are these screens even good for their brain development?

In a Psychology today article titled “Is it okay to let your toddler play with the ipad?” Nancy Darling writes, “Child development is optimized when children engage in activities that are cognitively and sensorily stimulating.”

Her argument is that having babies addicted to ipad-screens is simply not good for brain development because screens call for passive attention and provide a very limited sensory environment.

Besides the fact that it could turn a child’s bouncy lifestyle to a sedentary one right from the start of life, what about all  that we learn when we experience life in 3D? And I’m not talking about watching 3D movies as that is not experiencing life in 3D).

What about children learning the physics of gravity and dimensions of objects? Throwing a ball and catching it may help a child develop his motor and coordination skills, and might open his mind to the basics of trajectory.

What if our children never get to write in cursive using a pen because they’re always typing and swiping? Or they never get to know the smell of grass after it rains because they’re always indoors? Or they never feel the joy of finger painting (and the consequent dirtying of flat surfaces) ?

As they grow older they will probably be attached to technology as it infiltrates every aspect of their school and work life. So do we want them to miss out on life experiences right from the start? When do they look up from their screens and learn to rediscover the wonder? 

Ask yourself that question the moment your child reaches out for the ipad.

When to Press the Reset Button

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Do you sometimes find yourself stuck in a quagmire that is so complicated that you wish you can just throw everything out, press the reset button and start over? But then you might think that you’ve invested so much time and effort in whatever it is that you are pursuing that maybe it’s better to just plough through and see where it ends. But then you might think that more time would be wasted if someday down the road, you do decide to u-turn and start from the very beginning.

So between starting over and continuing, one is left thinking, how do you make the choice?

For some people, the choice is pretty much made for them. For instance, take someone who is forced to start over because they’ve lost their job suddenly and then they realize that they never liked it anyway so maybe it’s better to start over and go in a different direction.  But when you have to make the choice yourself, you need to start looking at the ratio of benefits to effort of whatever it is you are doing. So if you are putting a lot of effort in terms of time, money and personal health, then discover that you are getting nothing of value in return, then maybe the better choice is to quit.

However, it is not always easy to quantify benefits and efforts related to life decisions. And as Peter Drucker said, “If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it.” But I guess that is why it’s important to understand the values and priorities in life, because then it would be much easier to rate your benefits and efforts based on that.

So what is your opinion on the topic? When should a person just quit what they’re doing and start over in their life/career?

Picture courtesy of tumblr
Picture courtesy of tumblr

Khawater Kenyan Style…Kukausha Koo

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So my brother and I were brainstorming about how Ahmad AlShugairi’s Khawater would be really useful if English subtitles were provided and it was broadcast for our people in Kenya, but in Swahili the title would be renamed to kukausha koo*. Literally, the phrase means “to talk until your throat dries” (or lose your voice because of speaking so much) and figuratively it means to speak but not have anybody listen.

So the idea is that implementing a lot of the ideas presented on Khawater 9 would be hard for Kenyans. Lets take a few examples:
-As I posted previously in “Read in… Khawater 8″ if books were placed in a shelf in the middle of a park in Kenya, there is a high probability they would be stolen and resold on a mat right next to the shelf.
-If the public transport system requires you to put money without having someone monitor the process, the box would be empty every day. Not because people don’t put money, there are many honest people in Kenya. It’s just that some people will put but others will make it their daily occupation to empty it.
-If the nation asks people to donate gold for the government like they did in South Korea, the people might as well say goodbye to their gold, forever. South Korea stood up on their feet economically after the public sold their own gold to help the government but in Kenya the gold would mysteriously disappear and personal jets would mysteriously appear. If you don’t believe they could do that, explain why the government proposed to celebrate nation’s 50th anniversary using 30 m $ of the public’s money while teachers are going on strikes, crippling the educational system because they are not paid enough.

Okay so maybe some Kenyans might claim I’m exaggerating Kenya’s negative image but how do you explain people going to the masjid with expensive shoes only to walk back bare feet and be told, “It’s your fault. Nobody takes their good shoes and leaves it at the door of the masjid. You should have left it in the car.”

Or how do you explain this story that happened to a relative of mine in Mombasa; one morning he went to his car and discovered that the side mirror had been stolen at night. He replaced it but by the end of the day, both side mirrors were stolen. The poor dude lost three side mirrors in less than 24 hours!

So yeah, a Swahili program like Khawater would be called “Kukausha koo” because change begins from within a person before it starts spreading outwards to their circle of influence. So if people want to see change in their governments they need to start working on themselves first.

One concept that keeps on repeating itself on Khawater is that of Itqaan (perfecting one’s work) and to be fair, the average Kenyan is a hard worker. It’s just that there are few who are also hard workers at stealing and being corrupt. The sad thing is that the corrupt are enabled by the general population who think their documents would not be processed unless they pay their dues (TKK’s or Toa Kitu Kidogo). According to Transparency International’s 2013 Global Corruption Barometer, Kenya ranked number 4 in Bribe-Ridden Countries.

However, let’s be hopeful that change might be around the corner. Just like Kenyans stood together and called for a peaceful election this time around, the country might be able to eradicate corruption and build its economy one small step at a time.

Until then I’m just “nakausha koo”.