Change, do we really want it?

Feb 21st, 2012 | By | Category: Latest

A friend of mine tasked me to list all the problems facing Pakistan or Pakistanis. I thought it would be a piece of cake, albeit, an exhaustive list of never ending predicaments we are facing. The ‘z’s came prior to the ‘a’s in my mind as I brainstormed (rather, as a multitude of issues stormed my brain). I thought of prioritizing these issues and that is where the trouble started.

What is our biggest or foremost problem??

I turned to my wife and to her, our biggest issue was lack of security. My son’s list topper was injustice and my 8 year old daughter thought that our greatest problem is that we never stop arguing and quarreling leaving no energy for action. Well, I guess these are real issues, but then, everybody has his own gauge. I came across the ayat from the Qur’an, and then it struck me that our greatest problem is that we don’t really want change.

ALLAH does not change a people´s condition unless they change what is in their hearts…. [13:11]

Every one of us is really waiting for a “somebody” to descend from the heavens and solve all our issues with a magic wand. Some of us even have this supreme revolutionary leader of the Pakistani nation figured out. Nowadays, mostly for our youth, it seems that it’s Imran that Khan while we ourselves ‘khant’. Yet others have different personalities in mind who’ll deliver us from our problems. And then there are those who firmly believe that Mahdi (AS) himself will arrive to end the plight of all Muslims in general and us Pakistanis in particular. Others are blasé enough to leave it to God Almighty Himself to do something while we wait. Of course till such time, there isn’t much to do, or is there?

‘Whoever from amongst you sees an evil, he should change it by his hand, if he is unable to do so then he should change it by his tongue (by speaking against it), and if he is unable to do so then he should reject it in his heart – and this is the weakest of Iman’ (Muslim).

Gauge yourself with the standard laid down in the above referred Hadith. Are we causing physical or verbal change? Do we even stand at the lowest level? Do any of our current or future plans start with change? We just want things to improve overnight and want that when we wake up, everything has turned utopic. Look around and you’ll see that all those who are making moving speeches, none has any change on the agenda, and even if someone does, it’s only a façade and has hardly anything to do with real measures. We appear desperate for change from the outside but are afraid to accept the reality that this implies that we have to change our own selves. For any change to be meaningful it has to come from within, not without. So if we find grandiloquence of the patriotic, spiritual, political, social or even glamorous genres, we line up for the shot and come back relieved. However, the only revolutions such methods can achieve are superficial. Every so called leader that we have has a different cloak, a different line to sell, but in the end its just tactics to win a following. Throwing in Irene Peter’s quote:

“Just because everything is different doesn’t mean anything has changed”.

So what am I talking about here? Let me elaborate. Ever heard that, “if you’re not part of the solution then you’re part of the problem”? In essence, each and every one of us, are indeed part of the problem. If, for instance, corruption is our greatest mire, aren’t we all responsible for it in some way. We are all contributors to the situation we are in. It’s my own self that I have any real power over and I can really influence, so, naturally, any change that I really desire ought to start from my own self. I cannot sit idle and wait for any harbinger of change to end my woes. An individual is the basic component of society. Victor Frankl has said,

“When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves”.

If we are really heading towards doom, we don’t have time to sit down and ponder over the root causes, the factors and solutions. We need not wait for the right leaders, multitudes of like minded people, favorable circumstances or conducive environments. If our predicament is as dire as we consider it to be, then we have not a moment to lose.

“It is not necessary to change, survival is not mandatory” (W. Edwards Deming).

Each and every one of us has to be the first domino. In this game, there is no jump to higher levels without going through the first one. However, I am forced to conclude that we love this quagmire, we really do. Otherwise, we would have acted long ago.

“Faced with the choice between changing one’s mind and proving that there is no need to do so, almost everyone gets busy on the proof” (John Kenneth Galbraith).

There you have it, that’s our real dilemma, we are stagnant from the inside, and we don’t want to change, not really. There was this “Smiles a Lot” character in the movie “Dances with Wolves”, and if we had a similar name, ours would be “Talk a Lot”. We talk much without actually ending up anywhere.

For better or for worse, change is inevitable, whether we form part of it or not. Let us not lament over it tomorrow that had we acted, we could’ve been at a different place. The verdict from the Quran is quoted above. That’s the ab initio for any real change we want and that’s where we start from.


Whatever is the goal of your endeavors, “When you are through changing, you are through” (Bruce Barton).

Leaving you with W.H. Auden to ponder over…

We would rather be ruined than changed;

We would rather die in our dread

Than climb the cross of the moment

And let our illusions die.


Owys Zemir

About the author

Owys Zemir is an engineer by profession and a poet & writer by passion.

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  1. change for betterment not to ruin core values of being Muslims.

  2. excellent article. well done

  3. We would rather be ruined than changed;

    We would rather die in our dread

    Than climb the cross of the moment

    And let our illusions die.

    Wonderful but “but joo maza talking ma ha woh change ma nahi “

  4. Wow! I mean, a beautiful choice of words and quotes. Excellent work Owys Zemir! And at the same time i must say you did hit the nail on the head. Its not just one person but all of us as a nation’s delimm
    a that we only do the lip service! Lets be the changed ones ourselves!

  5. wow believe me this article should read by all pakis ……
    but one q? that if v’ll not rely on any leader than how come ? there has to be someone holding rope of country afterAllah & only creature seems to be is Imran khan …….what i think that’s y v all are waiting for him.but our inner strugglle has to keep going …..

  6. You’ve nailed it. It is true, we trow garbage everywhere and expect others to pick it up, when we cannot do it ourselves. Change has to come within us as you promptly quoted.

  7. @amna
    What if Imran (or anyone else for that matter) doesn’t prove out to be the man you thought he is? Where does that leave you? Do your own bit and be content….

  8. your knowledge and passion is reflecting in writing! good piece of words.

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