FRIDAY, MAY 25: Last week I attended the Bermuda College’s Commencement ceremony; and how lovely it was. I was so proud of the graduates for their achievements. I too was proud of my sweet niece Whitney Ming, who graduated with Merit.
I love to attend graduations, because they inspire me; sort of a catalyst that the future is going to be bright after all.
The graduates were beaming — confident that they were aptly equipped to tackle the world in the 21st century. So much hope abounded in the atmosphere that day.
I commend students who complete their studies, especially in this day and age, with so many distractions, coupled with the cost of education being so high, it is easy to get discouraged and throw the towel in.
But graduates prove that they ran the race to the bitter end, despite the not so easy route that most have to follow.
Last week, President Barack Obama delivered a commencement speech at Barnard College and to graduating seniors from the tornado-ravaged town of Joplin, Mo. President Barack Obama spoke of the “bigness of spirit” that was on display in the aftermath of last year’s storm and called the students examples for the rest of the country.
The President commented on the rallying together of the people in time of need — he spoke of the “power of community” that helped the town recover from the devastation of the tornado, which killed 161 people.
He went on to say: “It’s the same spirit we need right now to help rebuild America . . . and you, class of 2012, you’re going to help lead this effort.”
He told students to grow from the experience and pay forward the kindness that was shown to them.
“No matter how tough times get, you’ll always be tougher,” Obama said. “No matter what life throws at you, you will be ready. You will not be defined by the difficulties you face, but by how you respond — with grace, and strength, and a commitment to others.”
President Obama’s message is universal and can be applied to us right here in Bermuda.
Through God’s mercy we have not experienced a physical storm — we have nonetheless experienced an emotional storm.
The peace of our island is being compromised every day. We can learn and take heed of the President’s advice of helping in the time of need and the strength of community. Remembering that it takes the village to raise a child.
My heart went out to one student in particular who made a public appeal for financial assistance through the media, I’m sure you are aware of it.
I hope that her appeal is met and an outpouring of help goes her way to enable her to pay her fees for this year, and maybe a couple of upcoming semesters as well. Wouldn’t that be wonderful.
I know I offered my few dollars — as I trust you did, after all every cent counts.
We the people have to assist in matters like this. We have to be there to encourage young people with whatever assistance is needed, especially those doing positive things. That’s the duty of the village.
During Prophet Mohammed’s time there was as a financial resource for the people called the Bayt al Mal al Muslimin, a public treasury of the Muslims.
In fact, it was not only for the Muslims; its function included the welfare of all the citizens of the Islamic state regardless of their caste, colour or creed.
The function of the Bayt al-Mal also consisted of maintaining public works, roads, bridges, mosques, churches together with the welfare and provision of the poor. Pretty heavy stuff to have been in place over 1,400 years ago.
Besides the establishment of the Bayt al-Mal is the zakat, which is a pillar of Islam. Zakat is distributed amongst the people who need it the most at the time of distribution. The zakat is given by those who can afford it.
The word zakat means “to be pure”, thus, giving zakat is seen as an act of purification for one’s soul from, for example, selfishness and greed. The Holy Quran says, “Prosperous is he who has sought purity” (87:14).
The above represents to me a true call to action. Action to tackle financial deficits that may exist in the community which will hinder progress of the people; hence progress of the nation.
There is a great emphasis in Islam on helping others and the community. In Islam, helping those who are less fortunate is one of the greatest good deeds one can do. Whether it is with a smile or helping someone accomplish something, Islam has always looked favourably on those who help others.
Therefore, let us give freely to the children; the students of the village, not only our money, but our time, love and wisdom.
Let us allow the bigness of our spirit and the power of community to shape a better Bermuda. Ameen.