The other day my nephews and nieces asked me if they could play a board game called LIFE. I don’t know if all of you are familiar with this game, but for those who are not, it’s basically a board game reflecting “LIFE”. It starts where you have to make the choice between going to College or Finding a Career. Then you move through the various spaces of the game, borrowing money from the bank, getting money for things, receiving a salary, having to pay taxes and other expenses, getting money, losing money, getting married, having children, buying a starter home, then when you have enough money, moving on to a bigger house, then a mansion, getting divorced, getting married again, winning things or money, getting a pay raise, changing careers, going back to college, owing more money, having more expenses, getting more money, then paying for something new..... Eventually you end the game by retiring, with your fancy cars and big mansion (that is of course if you’re lucky enough or wise enough to have played the game well).
As I sat there watching these young innocent children, so eager and excited to play and so fascinated with the game, I honestly couldn’t help feeling completely freaked out! This isn’t what I want my innocent nieces and nephews to think life is all about. In fact, a more appropriate name for this type of game would have been “RAT RACE”. Really, where’s the meaning, the human interaction, the spirituality and religion. Where are the wonderful feelings you get when spending time with family, or the good you accomplish by giving charity, or the positive impact you make by doing volunteer work to help others. Apparently all these things have no value (that is no monetary or material value), and they don’t even deserve to be a part of life. So just like in the game, activities that don’t bring in the money are simply just not worthwhile and you basically end up being the loser. I have to ask; Is this really LIFE? Is this how we want our children to see life? Do we want them to think that life is all about material things and experiences, that our value at the end of the day depends on how big our houses are, or how smart our cars are and how much money we have in the bank? Are these even positive messages at all?
And of course, just like these things have been glamorized in the game, so too have they been made to look wonderful in real life. I know that we need money and a career and so on, but what happened to the essence of life? A life like this has no meaning; it’s a mechanical movement through time where people don’t even have to love what they do, just as long as it gives them the material things they need. What about having a passion for what you do, or doing something because you honestly want to make a real difference? The people who manage to step out of the “rat race” are very few, and they are the ones who are regarded as “odd”, “different”, and “eccentric”. In the meantime, there’s this system in place that has strategically managed to enslave us all in a world that has no meaning and value; a world of materialism, where money is the central part that makes the entire machine work. So people continue to work to get money, and before we even get our pay cheques at the end of the month the money’s already gone. And the house we live in will only belong to us after twenty years of hard work and regular payments. And similarly the car we drive can easily be taken away from us if we are unable to uphold payments. And prices of things continue to go up, and we get extremely tired every day, as we work just to pay for things. Is this really LIFE?
In the meantime though, we can start with ourselves, we can try to make the difference, we can be different and re-define the definition of LIFE. For me, LIFE is not about a constant rat race, gaining wealth and possessions as we go along. I don’t care about the big house or fancy car. I don’t want the glamorous job in the Top Company. Inshaa Allah, through the mercy of Our Most Magnificent Lord, Allah Almighty, I wish to continue searching for meaning wherever I can find it. And Inshaa Allah, I wish to be able to only do actions that will please Allah, because one day when this material world will no longer exist, then what will I have to show? When money means nothing and all the fancy homes and cars are destroyed and useless, then what will I have to show? When a fancy career in the best company holds no value, then where will I turn? And when I stand before my Lord and have to answer about my life, what will I be able to say then? Who will really win the true game of life?
PS: Before people tell me that I'm spoiling all the fun and taking things way too seriously, I'm really not saying that we shouldn't play games or have fun. Its fine to even play this game for fun, as long as we don't start believing that this is all that life is about. That's all I'm trying to say here!
May Allah make it easy for us all, Inshaa Allah
Image 1 from: http://www.boardgameratings.com/game/95/
Image 2 from: http://lyricsdog.eu/s/live%20action%20roleplaying