Wednesday, October 19, 2011

A Glass of Milk – Paid In Full

One day, a poor boy who was selling goods from door to door to pay his way through school, found he had only one thin dime left, and he was hungry. He decided he would ask for a meal at the next house. However, he lost his nerve when a lovely young woman opened the door. Instead of a meal he asked for a drink of water. She thought he looked hungry so brought him a large glass of milk. He drank it slowly, and then asked, “How much do I owe you?” “You don’t owe me anything,” she replied.

“Mother has taught us never to accept pay for a kindness.” He said, “Then I thank you from my heart.”

As Howard Kelly left that house, he not only felt stronger physically, but his faith in God and man was strong also. He had been ready to give up and quit.

Year’s later that young woman became critically ill. The local doctors were baffled. They finally sent her to the big city, where they called in specialists to study her rare disease. Dr. Howard Kelly was called in for the consultation. When he heard the name of the town she came from, a strange light filled his eyes. Immediately he rose and went down the hall of the hospital to her room. Dressed in his doctor’s gown he went in to see her. He recognized her at once. He went back to the consultation room determined to do his best to save her life. From that day he gave special attention to the case.

After a long struggle, the battle was won. Dr. Kelly requested the business office to pass the final bill to him for approval. He looked at it, then wrote something on the edge and the bill was sent to her room. She feared to open it, for she was sure it would take the rest of her life to pay for it all. Finally she looked, and something caught her attention on the side of the bill. She began to read the following words:

“Paid in full with one glass of milk”

Signed, Dr. Howard Kelly

Tears of joy flooded her eyes as her happy heart prayed, “Thank you God, that your love has spread broad through human hearts and hands”


1.Kindness will pay you back at the right time and place. Like all good deeds kindness is never wasted. Willingness to help anyone who comes your way, must be sincere and unconditional – the girl who gave the milk

2.Nobody however small he/she may be is unimportant to be ignored

3.Gratitude.Never forget your past especially those who had helped you when you were most desperate - Dr.Kelly

4.Never have enemies. Never know who you will need one day

5.Divine mystery. God works in mysterious ways, which we will not understand. He knows what to give us, how to give us and when to give us. As long as we continue to do the right thing He will give what we deserve and need at the right time, right place .

Friday, October 14, 2011

Sorry, the magic word that does wonders

Apologizing is not a sign of weakness but strength

I like to share a inspiring true story about a close friend mine. I was impressed by his actions which he narrated to me in relation to an incident he encountered recently.

The story of humility

His daughter after leaving school managed to get a job in a legal firm. Apparently at the interview for the job she had promised the employer that she would stay permanently in her job as she was interested to pursue a career in Law. However after some months she realized that she did not find the job satisfying and she decided to resign pursue a career in business. She submitted her resignation letter in accordance with the agreement but that was the start of the nightmares for this young and inexperienced girl facing the cruel world for the first time.

Her employer,a lawyer by profession, was very furious that she had breached the terms of her contract. He felt cheated by her for breaking her promise to stay long. He refused to pay her the final month salary and insisted she pay compensation for having “cheated” him resulting in financial losses for him. The young girl was so shocked and informed her father who was so angry that he reported to the labor office and the case was scheduled to be heard in the labor court.

He decided to confront her boss and on doing so was told off rudely and he demanded letter of apology from his daughter, failing which he would meet her in court to claim compensation and ask the court to mete out other form of punishment for breach of trust. My friend and his wife were so angry that they refused to give in and were prepared to go to court. All sorts of acts of revenge went through his mind from damaging his car to employing people to hurt him. He was so angry with the lawyer boss who could be so mean to damage the career of his innocent daughter.

On the eve of the court hearing, the father, being a God fearing man, spent some solitary moments reflecting on what was happening. He finally came to his senses violence and vengeance was the solution but on the contrary humility was the way out. He believed nobody was greater than God and if that God Himself wants him to apologize, there is nothing wrong to say sorry to the boss and let God deal with the him at His own pace and time.

He quickly typed out a letter of apology and made her daughter sign it.The next day the girl submitted the letter to the employer who was quick to forgive her, pay her salary and withdrew the case against her. The problem was so quickly and easily solved just with a simple letter of apology, although the girl and her parents were convinced she did not do any wrong.
My friend too was so surprised that the speed and ease with the problem was settled amicably and this is what he has to say,“It may be extremely difficult and painful to say sorry to someone we may be angry with but it is worth doing so even if we feel we are right to avoid or solve a lot of heartaches and problems”. This I take as an advice for all of us as we meet with such problems daily in our own lives.

The lesson for us

Apologizing is a virtue which is a basic tenet of every religion. The Cambridge Online dictionary defines the word ‘sorry’ as the feeling of sadness, sympathy, or disappointment, especially because something unpleasant has happened or has been done and apology is an act of saying sorry to the person whom we have caused that unpleasant feeling.

Today the vast majority of conflicts in our families, places of work, our society and the world in general are caused by people who refuse to apologize for whatever mistake they have committed or harm they could have caused to others. Even after having proven wrong there are many who refuse to say sorry. The word“sorry” is such a simple word but is the most difficult to say as apologizing would mean admitting once guilt which our ego will not allow such humble act.

If only we have the humility to say sorry to those who are hurt by us, the world will be a better place for all as all inter-personal problems, misunderstandings and disputes can all be amicably solved. Every religion teaches repentance and forgiveness but lack of these basic virtues among their followers is the fundamental cause of inter-religious disputes and violence throughout the history of mankind.

My friend went to see his daughter’s employer with so much anger prepared to even hurt him but after deep thought and reflection he adopted the path of humility which brought peace, goodwill and even justice to his daughter in the end. All he had to do was humble himself to say sorry, the magic word that did wonders.

We too meet with such problems almost daily in our lives. Are we prepared to say the magic word “sorry” whenever we seem to have hurt someone even unintentionally?Are we willing to say sorry even to those whom we think are unjust to us? If only we can do that, like my friend, our life will be more peaceful and rewarding. We must remember that humility in apologizing is not a sign of weakness but strength.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Success and failure

Failure stepping stone to success

Success: The achieving of the results wanted or hoped for

We all want to be successful in whatever we do but does success really mean to us?
To many success means achieving something we dream.

1. Youth – excel in studies maximum grade in exam. Go to best university to pursue the dream course
2. Career – professional, entrepreneur, make a lot of money- nobody wants to be poor, low jobs
3. Status – wealth, big house, big car, luxurious life, many servants etc.
4. Beauty - famous and glamorous
5. Go to heaven – spiritually inclined and do many things to get closer to God

In short we want to win all the time. We do all sorts of things to succeed and what we hate most is failure.
But very great men and women had a different view of success and failure. Many of them view failure as being necessary for success later. In fact many of the great people who became successful had failed miserably in the earlier part of their lives. In fact most them considered themselves as stupid not genius which they turned up to be later.

Although there are thousands of them today I like to share with you six such people who had impressed me with their failures and success. 

Famously Successful People Who Failed At First

Albert Einstein: Most of us take Einstein's name as synonymous with genius, but he didn't always show such promise especially earlier in life. 

Einstein did not speak until he was four and did not read until he was seven, causing his teachers and parents to think he was mentally handicapped, slow and anti-social. Eventually, he was expelled from school and was refused admittance to the Zurich Polytechnic School. 

It might have taken him a bit longer, but most people would agree that he caught on pretty well in the end, winning the Nobel Prize and changing the face of modern physics.Here are some of his sayings on success.

“If A is success in life, then A equals x plus y plus z. Work is x; y is play; and z is keeping your mouth shut”

Thomas Edison: In his early years, teachers told Edison he was "too stupid to learn anything." Work was no better, as he was fired from his first two jobs for not being productive enough. 

Even as an inventor, Edison made 1,000 unsuccessful attempts at inventing the light bulb. Of course, all those unsuccessful attempts finally resulted in the design that worked.

This what he had to say about failure.

“I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work.”
 “Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is to try just one more time.”

Winston Churchill: This Nobel Prize-winning, twice-elected Prime Minster of the United Kingdom wasn't always as well regarded as he is today. 

Churchill struggled in school and failed the sixth grade. After school he faced many years of political failures, as he was defeated in every election for public office until he finally became the Prime Minister at the ripe old age of 62.He turned out to be one of the best PM Britain ever had.

Churchill had this to say about success which belongs to only the optimists.

“A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty”.
Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.

Abraham Lincoln: While today he is remembered as one of the greatest presidents of USA, Lincoln's life wasn't so easy. 

In his youth he went to war a captain and returned a private. He spent years studying law. Lincoln didn't stop failing there, however. He started numerous failed businesses and was defeated in numerous runs he made for public office.

Finally he won and became one of the best presidents the US ever had. He had the courage to do something that not many would have dared - abolished slavery.

Lincoln’s believes that made him great.

“My concern is not whether God is on our side; my greatest concern is to be on God's side, for God is always right.”
“Success is going from failure to failure without losing your enthusiasm.”
Always bear in mind that your own resolution to succeed is more important than any one thing.”

Oprah Winfrey: Most people know Oprah as one of the most iconic faces on TV as well as one of the richest and most successful women in the world. 

Oprah faced a hard road to get to that position, however, enduring a rough and often abusive childhood as well as numerous career setbacks including being fired from her job as a television reporter because she was "unfit for TV."Her TV shows became one of the most watched throughout the world.

Oprah’s take on failure ,which she says  needs to be enjoyed.

"Be thankful for what you have; you'll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don't have, you will never, ever have enough."
"Think like a queen. A queen is not afraid to fail. Failure is another stepping stone to greatness."
"I do not believe in failure. It is not failure if you enjoyed the process."


Steve Jobs : Founder of Apple.Creator of iPhone, iPad and iMac

Childood – no father, adopted parents, dropped out of school – most right decision in his life
Hard work and in right environment – became the CEO of Apple Corporation. At the time of death his assets estimated about USD8billion.

When he was 17, he read a quote that changed his life: "If you live each  day as if it was your last, someday you'll most certainly be right." It made an impression on him, and since then, for the past 33 years, he looked in the mirror every morning and asked himself: "If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today? And whenever the answer has been "No" for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something” 

He had always challenged himself to create new lives and meaning.
He was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer when he was 48 and the doctor told him that he should expect to live no longer than three to six months.

He did not give up and while trying to prolong his life, he continued to grow, and iPhone and iPad were the results. He died on 5.10.11 at the age of 56.

Life lessons learned from these inspirational success stories

Certainly these success stories are not told for the sake of entertainment but they are told in order to inspire, motivate and encourage people to succeed in work, business or life.

The most precious lessons you should come up with from these inspirational success stories are:
  1. Rejection should never stop you
  2. Failure is not a problem at all
  3. People who reject you know nothing
  4. Believing in yourself is the key to success in life
  5. Faith in God especially when things do go your way – continue doing the right thing despite failure

What does success mean to you? To me success  in the satisfaction and joy that I obtain  in the process of striving to achieve something  dear to me, doesn’t matter whether I really achieve it or not. 

Two other motivational quotes for your reflection
"Unless you're willing to have a go, fail miserably, and have another go, success won't happen."   Phillip Adams
"The difference between a successful person and others is not a lack of strength, not a lack of knowledge, but rather in a lack of will." Vincent T. Lombardi

Friday, October 07, 2011

Hudud or no hudud?

Laws are good as those who implement them

The ongoing debate on the planned implementation of Hudud laws in Kelantan appears to be dividing the Pakatan Pakyat (PR) coalition and threatening the continued existence of the coalition itself. While PR seems to be heading for a crisis,BN appears to be riding high with its leader, Datuk Seri Najib Razak raiding the PKR and DAP strongholds in Penang  and with the announcements of drastic changes to certain draconian laws in particular the Internal Security Act(ISA).The tabling of the bill in Parliament to form the PSC with the aim of abolishing  the Restricted Residence Act and the Banishment Act was the latest in its pledge for sweeping reforms.

It is good that PR top leadership had given top priority to discuss and find an amicable solution to the Hudud crisis before they go to the polls. The positive outcome of their top level meeting recently   is a sign of increasing political maturity of the coalition from the time it came into existence 3 years ago. The outcome of the meeting shows that controversial and sensitive issues can be discussed in a mature and civil manner without disrupting their unity in many issues at hand. 

In short the PR leadership has shown that they can agree to disagree on certain issues at the same time being solidly united on their common goal to bring political change. This concept of ‘agree to disagree’ is the most important prerequisite for a true democracy. Unfortunately it seems to be lacking in BN which is cause of dissatisfaction of many of the minor components partners of the ruling coalition. We are all too familiar with the misguided concept of “either you are with us or against us “which is detrimental to the democratic process.

We hope common sense and goodwill will continue to prevail at the top level of the PR decision making process so that they will not allow their differences to be manipulated to divert the coalition from its path to Putrajaya. We also hope that the maturity at the top level will disseminate to the all levels of the 3-party coalition partners so that suspicion of one another that can undermine their unity in purpose will soon fade off. 

Their priority should be to unseat the BN first which is not going to be an easy task and needs the concerted efforts of every member of the PR. Once this is achieved and there is a peaceful transition of power then PR can sit down together to plan how to rule the country in favour of the people not themselves. At this crucial stage when PR seem to be able to successfully ward of all sorts of assault by their mighty opponent, it is of utmost importance that they should not allow any of their differences to be capitalised by the BN and the heavily lopsided media.

Laws are there to protect the rights and dignity of the people from all forms of harm like crime and cheating. Laws are essential but by themselves are useless as they are only as good as the people implementing them. While good laws are  important but more important is the type of leaders we have who would be tasked to implement them. 
If we have a government that respects the democratic rights of the people it will implement all the laws in a fair and just manner, doesn’t matter Hudud or secular. The people should not fear the laws however draconian they may because a responsible government will never abuse such laws like the abuse of the ISA .
While it may not an absolute need to push for Hudud laws but if it is the majority of people want and need   the government of the day must give in to the wishes of the people. In this respect only a referendum can decide what the majority want and the government should not hesitate to conduct one to decide the future course of the nation.

Why does PAS keep insisting on the Hudud laws when it knows very well the country is not ready and even their own allies will oppose it? It is also clear that the Federal Constitution needs to be amended for the adoption of Hudud laws and PAS knows that it will not get the two-thirds majority in parliament. Yet it keeps bringing it up over and over again and DAP keeps opposing it all the time which gives ammunition to the BN to create confusion among the voters.

No laws are perfect, either the present secular one or the Hudud. Both can be abused to bring injustice to the people. Can PAS give the assurance that the hudud laws if implemented will not be abused by those in power as many existing repressive laws are being abused now?

To my mind the people should not be fearful of any laws but be wise to elect the right people to implement them fairly and justly to all citizens without fear, favour or political motive.

It will be unwise to have two sets of laws; one for Muslims (Hudud) and one for non-Muslims(Federal Constitution) in an ethnically diverse country like Malaysia. Ideally we must have the same set of laws for all citizens regardless of race or creed as having different sets for different groups will only increase the existing ethnic and religious divide among the multiracial and multi-religious population. 

It is unfortunate that the issue of Hudud laws is being highly politicised and the various parties keep bring it up over and over again to get political mileage. This is not only unnecessary but dangerous in a country where the inter-ethnic relation is in a delicate balance. Let us not argue, quarrel and get emotional over Hudud and what other laws to implement but spend our time and energy to decide with great wisdom on who will be the right people and the right party that will implement our laws fairly without abusing them.

We have many pressing issues facing our country – the deteriorating economy, increasing racial and religious polarisation, poverty, rampant corruption, abuse of government machinery, escalating crime, and declining standard of education and morality among the youth. Let us decide with greater discern who will be better poised to solve these pressing issues that will bring lasting peace, prosperity and progress for the people.

Saturday, October 01, 2011

Gandhi Birthday 2011 - Gandhi the soldier of peace

He did what he preached and preached only what he does

October 2nd 2011 is the 142nd birthday of Mahatma Gandhi and this year marks the 63rd. anniversary of his death. Gandhi is one of the greatest personalities of recent times and he can be considered the saint of non-violence who lived among the masses and who did what he preached and preached only what he did.

This was interestingly illustrated by the following incident of the in his life.

One day a mother came to Gandhi with her little boy for help. She asked Gandhi, “Please, Bapu, will you tell my little boy to stop eating sugar. He simply eats too much sugar and will not stop.” Gandhi told the mother to leave and come back with the boy in three days.

The mother returned with her son and said to Gandhi, “We have come back as you asked.” Gandhi turned to the boy and said, “Young boy, stop eating sweets. They are not good for you.”

The mother then asked Gandhi, “Bapu, why didn’t you tell my son that when we first came to see you? Why did you ask us to leave and come back in three days? I don’t understand.”

Gandhi said to the woman, “I asked you to return with the boy in three days, because three days ago, I, too, was eating sweets. I could not ask him to stop eating sweets so long as I had not stopped eating sweets.”

This is one the virtues that is badly lacking in us especially our political and religious leaders who do not do what they preach neither do they preach only what they do. Even parents and teachers seem to be failing to live up to the expectations of their children and students respectively. This is the most common cause of the decline in moral values in our society.

Gandhi may be best remembered for his role in his country’s independence but to many around the world he means much more than just a freedom fighter because he fought without anger and hate and without violence and weapons. By his peaceful and non-violent struggles those who were unjust he won the hearts of many including those against whom he fought. By doing so he became the conscience in the hearts of many till today.

 His form of fight was indeed unique but surprising it succeeded. Many who adopted his ways of fight later also similarly succeeded and it is interesting to realize that in our small ways we too can likewise succeed in dealing with people in our society if only we adopt his ways.

Mahatma Gandhi refused to submit to unjust laws, spoke and acted strongly against racism and stood firmly to defend truth and justice whenever and wherever they were breached. He was not a ruler of vast lands nor was he man of great power and wealth but was one who had great will and courage to do the right at all times.

On this 142nd birthday of this great man, I would like to share something that was so dear to him – peace.

This is what he had to say of peace, “If we are to reach real peace in this world and if we are to carry on a real war against war, we shall have to begin with children and if they will grow up in their natural innocence, we won’t have the struggle, we won’t have to pass fruitless idle resolutions, but we shall go from love to love and peace to peace, until at last all the corners of the world are covered with that peace and love for which consciously or unconsciously, the whole world is hungering.”

He struggled for peace, a peace that was so badly lacking in his own country and the world. He called himself a soldier of peace not war and this is his fervent prayer for that peace in the world among people of diverse origins and believes.