Quick question. How do men even sit through wrestling and boxing matches? Call me a girly girl, but I honestly don’t get what’s so thrilling about blood-drenched, black-eyed, ‘beat-the-hell-out-of-you’ sports. Perhaps if you’re on either team, or if you’re the one in the fighting ring determined to win the game and knock down your opponent, that’s where the sense of victory comes in. But what happens if you’re on both teams? If two of your brothers are up against each other, which one do you cheer for? What happens if you’re putting on the boxing gloves, and at the blow of the referee’s whistle, all of a sudden you’re in ‘Parallel World’ and you realize the person you’re about to attack is YOU?
The Invisible Battle
At the risk of stating the obvious, let me confirm that war is the opposite of peace. And it’s pretty easy to see the damages, losses and destruction in a battlefield. We shudder at the sight of men’ swollen faces and oozing cuts when they engage in street fights before they turn to lifelong scars. We might help others tend to their physical wounds, all the while knowing, many of us are just as bruised and swollen on the inside, from inner fights that no ice pack or bandages can help heal. There’s an inside war that no one knows of. That’s the invisible battle between you and yourself..
When two parties disagree or see things differently, they take attacking or defensive sides. That’s how divorces happen, how friends break up, why people sometimes burst and quit their jobs and why parents with teenagers pull their hair. Conflicts burn out the joy we desperately seek. The same happens when your heart and mind start arguing and the fight is so intense and loud, it’s hard to breathe let alone rest or sleep. When your values differ from your actions, they clash. When your belief system doesn’t match your behavior and lifestyle, a discrepancy is evoked, causing suffocating tension or what Psychologist call ‘Cognitive Dissonance’.
Think of the mind as the dad, the heart as the mom and you’re the child in the middle watching them scream at each other and fight over custody! You love them both and it’s not fair of them to ask you to choose or make you live out of a suitcase in two different homes! All you pray and wish for is that they kiss and make up and then go buy you ice cream and lots of presents to celebrate their reunion. All you wish for is stability and balance when the tides are too high and you slowly feel yourself drowning.
Okay, enough metaphors. Let me tell you the story of this girl who fell in love with a guy and started lying to her parents about who she’s chatting with or where she goes after school. The doctor who exaggerates an illness to make more money off his patient. The husband who’s having an emotional affair with a co-worker, because his wife is boring. The woman who gossips about her neighbors then invites them over for dinner. The students who cheat on tests, and the friends who get together to drink, smoke up and bully others. The man who breaks hearts and the woman who sees her friend hurting and looks the other way. On the outside, they all seem laid back, fun, adventurous, and living their lives the way they want. But on the inside, they’re struggling more than you’ll ever know. They live in a war zone. And no matter which side wins; they still lose… because temporary, guilt-ridden happiness has nothing to do with real joy.
Settling To A Middle Ground
So, this girl in love tells herself it’s okay to lie, because her parents will never understand. Actually, if you think about it, she’s protecting them from pain while looking for her happiness, right? The husband having an affair makes it up to his wife with expensive presents, or just tells himself she’s getting as good as she’s giving, so there’s no need to feel bad. The students only cheat on subjects they don’t really need to learn, like Algebra! When was the last time you used Algebra in real life? The friends are just enjoying their youth or forgetting their troubles. It doesn’t have to be a conflict. Perhaps people are different, and their sets of values aren’t the same. Or maybe they have VERY good reasons for the bad things they do!
But the truth is, the most dangerous kind of excuses and lies are the ones we tell ourselves, because deep down we know the truth, and it’s making us slowly go insane with shame and misery.
You might try to change your values when you reach a dead end with this heart-mind struggle, and may I add ‘good luck with that’. Muslim or non-Muslim, we all agree on the same morals. We know for a fact that lying, cheating, deception, promiscuity and stealing are all against pure human nature. And as Muslims, we don’t drink, gamble, backbite or rush through our prayers like it’s the marathon, for the exact same reasons. When your religion doesn’t translate into true faith in the heart and is just a label your brain had memorized, you willingly step into a minefield every time you want to make a decision. Islam means ‘peace’ because it takes you out of the war zone and makes your heart and mind become one team, a couple living happily ever after.
The Search For Happiness
It’s the ultimate search isn’t it? We believe something needs to happen for us to find the happiness we’re yearning for. Falling in love isn’t enough, you want to get married, then you want kids, then you want a bigger house for the family. Then you’re bored of your spouse and kids and you want a career. You want a fun social life, wealth, success, fame. You’re always looking for the next thing to make you happy and nothing works for long simply because happiness is elusive, you can’t pin it down! It seems like we are chasing an outer source of happiness when in reality, we’re only running away from the void inside of us.
Can I ask you something?
Do you sleep soundly at night? Or are you holding in too much sadness, anger or guilt? Do you sometimes feel like you’re lost in this world? Do you feel empty inside? Only you know the reasons behind your inner struggle, and because no one sees your bruises or hears your silent screams, only you can put an end to this invisible war between you and yourself. It’s time to take off those boxing gloves and stop fighting. Stop struggling. Submit to your true ethics, morals and beliefs and don’t let your temptations blind you. It’s time for a truce between your heart and mind, because the truth is, once the gloves are off, you’ll finally find what you’re looking for… The ‘Peace’ of happiness.
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