"Blessed are those who struggle..."
“One day, a man of religion wished in a prayer to God that he wanted to see heaven and hell. The same day, God sent an angel to the man to tell him that his wish was granted. The angel took the man by the arm to a salon in a faraway land. In the salon, the man saw a long table laden with delicious food. Around the table he could see thin, unhealthy people getting ready to eat the food. A gong rang and the people began to eat. The man noticed that the people could not eat the food properly as they were forced to eat with metre-long spoons. Trying to eat, the people would spill the food from the spoons to the floor. The angel said to the man: ‘can you see? This is hell’.
Startled, the man of religion said: ‘what kind of a hell is this? I thought that hell was a place full of flames and screaming people. I want now to see what heaven is like’. The man and the angel went on their way again, eventually arriving at another salon. Inside was the same scene. A long table laden with delicious food. This time, the people around the table were young, beautiful and healthy. However they also held one metre-long spoons with which they were to begin eating the food. The angel turned to the man and said ‘this is heaven’. The man replied ‘what kind of a heaven can this be? I thought that heaven was a place full of beautiful virgins, green trees and fragrant flowers… what is the secret behind this heaven?’ The angel said: ‘watch how these people eat their food’.
The gong rang once again and people began to eat. Unlike the other salon in which everyone was trying to eat by themselves, the people in heaven were using the spoons to feed the people around them. Eating this way made them happy and healthy.
The angel added: “in the previous salon there was only ‘I’ [nefs] and selfishness. Every place in which ‘I’ reigns supreme is hell. In the second salon there is not ‘I’, the people sitting across from you come first. Here there is love, mercy, sacrifice and friendship. Every place with real love, equality, fraternity and sacrifice will eventually turn into heaven’.”
– A parable from the teachings of the anti-capitalist Muslims
At first, this person is ought to say that in an era where society has been dictated badly by markets, if not sensing man's consciousness having been tied to interests, it all seems that the yearning for a just and humane order has still continue to be asserted as such.
With the story above as an example, this person sees how humanity passed in a hell-like existence amidst idealistic impressions and hopes of a coming heaven. True it may be that mankind yearns for that heaven, and that the future they seek is full of real love, equality, fraternity, and liberty; but reality and its varied interpretations rather reduces all these into rhetorics, or even aesthetics so as to impress people and sneer both ear, mind, and heart only to found themselves bound with the illusions and lives being unconsciously exploited.
Obviously, it may also sound badly and madly offensive especially when today's people and its culture has becoming consumerist with all their lives, living in a cycle that has to do with work, earn, buy, and consume things may or may not matter, and those who care to question (particularly those of policy as well as authority) be as if willing to be deprived of its sustenance or survival since today's reality of things be summarised as "to live in order to work just to live" and that includes depriving man of questioning, seeking truth from facts, or even the desire for changes that is, in pursuit of life, liberty, and happiness.
And thus, it makes everyone felt trying to escape yet still trapped in a gilded cage, for the continuous exploitation and alienation of people be like still deprived of real hopes despite having an appearance of "satisfaction" brought about by an unjust order. Or in case of this day, turning people into ghosts in need of reclaiming their bodies, their sanity.
And if to look back at the recent issues that most people chose to disregard, it showed that although there are protests or disturbances against rising costs of oil prices to those of American interventionism in domestic policies, one can argue that they eventually evolved into a revolt against the policies brought upon by a neocolonial order; a combination of neo-liberal economics, pervasive consumer culture, semi-authoritarian politics and populism meant to retain the status quo.
And in speaking of that "consumer culture" that has becoming part of contemporary "neoliberal-oriented" cultural policy if not the present idea behind man's soulless cycle, is that when combined with neo-liberal, post-Fordist capitalism, makes the very essence of life into a source of profit extraction, turning society into a ‘social factory’ as what Antonio Negri stated.
Strange isn't it? For as this person and others concerned sought the almost soulless state of humanity has ever been in the present, it has nothing to do with development nor emancipation, but rather a continuous exploitation of man by man if not retention of interests. And at its worst, rather aggravates social tensions especially within a clear and present socioeconomic crisis (unemployment, rising costs of goods, corruption, etc.)
And like the parable, perhaps it is becoming a duty to create another world that is just, where there is love, mercy, fraternity, equality, sacrifice and friendship.
And in that ideal society will eventually turn into heaven that everyone has longed for. Blessed are those who struggle, for theirs is the kingdom called "heaven".