These days I am amazed that no sooner have I searched online for a Buddha garden statue than I am subsequently inundated for weeks with all things remotely Buddha-‘ish’, from training videos by Deepak Chopra to Sanskrit tea towels, not to mention assorted Buddhas in a myriad shapes, sizes and materials. And it doesn’t stop there.
I have also been targeted for the sort of books, jewellery and sports gear Buddha idolaters are likely to want, even though that purchase was a gift. What technology has become really good at is tracking me from site to site, monitoring my actions and then compiling them into an algorithmic database. Armed with this information it assesses and categorises me accordingly and then engages with me by tempting me with specific advertisements, personalised content etc..
For some this may feel like the ultimate convenience – a free personal shopper to make your purchasing preferences for you, making you a shoppee rather than a shopper, but for others like me it does leave us with a creepy feeling that we are being watched (which we are) and that it’s not ok!
Talking about what is not ok, my soon-to-be four year old daughter vehemently refuses to wear certain outfits which I have bought. There is a gorgeous two-piece, trousers and top which I bought from the stylish, quality French children’s clothing brand, Sergeant Major, which I can’t get her to even try on. Regardless of what I tell her, she insists they are pyjamas and although she doesn’t express it verbally, I can tell by the look on her face that she would rather die than be seen in public wearing them.
I, on the other hand, think the outfit is adorable. In a sense I acted no better than the internet’s artificial intelligence by piecing together data on her and making a decision about what I think she should wear – doesn’t mean she will or that I should make her, but I failed to factor in her opinion.
What and when children start deciding for themselves is an interesting debate. When my twins were born, we had long discussion on whether we or others could post photographs of them on mediums like Facebook and anywhere else that may result in them having an internet presence.
We are in an age where many parents share almost everything online about their children. But how will these children feel when they are older? Will they love that their life has been publicly posted for them to cherish or will they be furious that all is laid bare (literally, as is often the case) for future employers, work colleagues and others to see?
I personally post very little online, privately at least. This is my choice regarding what I want to give of myself to others, especially those who don’t know me. I don’t post my feelings, daily activities or anything private because that’s how I want it to stay – private. I do put my shopping habits online and look what’s happening with that! Instead of reaching Nirvana, I‘m in the Buddhist equivalent of hell!
When a picture, status or piece of personal information is put up somewhere on the web, it is logged, archived and stored. If someone can legitimately find that information without compromising any user agreements, that is not a violation of your privacy on the internet because you are the one who put it out there in the first place – it is also why law enforcement can use your Facebook feed to track you down and apprehend you.
Same goes for corporate data mining – nothing you put up on a social network hosted by someone else truly belongs to you anymore. Social media has been legally classified as exactly that and any and all posts can be held to the same standards as legitimate journalism.
It’s no secret that employers now carry out online searches on potential employees to check their history and get an angle on character etc. hoping that they will get some insight which will help them decide on their suitability for the organisation, how they will get on with other staff members etc.
Employers want to know as much as they can about you, and the trail of activity you leave behind you on the Internet gives them a much more detailed view into your life than a carefully-worded CV does. Not much you can do about that as an applicant but as an employee you have some rights when it comes to private information being given to your employer.
There are employee privacy rights which are the rules that limit how extensively an employer can search an employee’s possessions or person; monitor their actions, speech, or correspondence; and know about their personal lives, especially but not exclusively in the workplace, though they vary from country to country.
But the extent and nature of these protections have become a growing concern recently because of the increase in the use of social media and the internet. You may think that many of these means of communication are private, but in truth, there is hardly any real privacy to be had with them. You have effectively published them and thereby given authorisation to any Tom, Dick and Harriet to access them.
Within an organisation, employers can usually search through anything that appears on company computers, and they can conduct wider searches of social media and the internet as well. Going ‘off-grid’ is almost impossible in our digital world but remember that what you put out can be grist to anyone’s mill, including your potential future employer.
Bottom line – your internet footprint is written in indelible ink. In my case I could return the statue if it didn’t suit but I’m forever a marked man in marketing terms. And in the meantime, in case anyone’s looking for a cute trouser suit for a little girl, please don’t contact me online!
Seventy-seven years ago, on the evening of December 2, 1943, the Germans launched a surprise air raid on allied shipping in the Italian port of Bari, which was then the key supply centre for the British 8th army’s advance in Italy.
The attack was spearheaded by 105 Junkers JU88 bombers under the overall command of the infamous Air Marshal Wolfram von Richthofen (who had initially achieved international notoriety during the Spanish Civil War for his aerial bombardment of Guernica). In a little over an hour the German aircraft succeeded in sinking 28 transport and cargo ships, while further inflicting massive damage to the harbour’s facilities, resulting in the port being effectively put out of action for two months.
Over two thousand ground personnel were killed during the raid, with the release of a secret supply of mustard gas aboard one of the destroyed ships contributing to the death toll, as well as subsequent military and civilian casualties. The extent of the later is a controversy due to the fact that the American and British governments subsequently covered up the presence of the gas for decades.
At least five Batswana were killed and seven critically wounded during the raid, with one of the wounded being miraculously rescued floating unconscious out to sea with a head wound. He had been given up for dead when he returned to his unit fourteen days later. The fatalities and casualties all occurred when the enemy hit an ammunition ship adjacent to where 24 Batswana members of the African Pioneer Corps (APC) 1979 Smoke Company where posted.
Thereafter, the dozen surviving members of the unit distinguished themselves for their efficiency in putting up and maintaining smokescreens in their sector, which was credited with saving additional shipping. For his personal heroism in rallying his men following the initial explosions Company Corporal Chitu Bakombi was awarded the British Empire Medal, while his superior officer, Lieutenant N.F. Moor was later given an M.B.E.
Remember: bricks and cement are used to build a house, but mutual love, respect and companionship are used to build a HOME. And amongst His signs is this: He creates for you mates out of your own kind, so that you may find contentment (Sukoon) with them, and He engenders love and tenderness between you; in this behold, there are signs (messages) indeed for people who reflect and think (Quran 30:21).
This verse talks about contentment; this implies companionship, of their being together, sharing together, supporting one another and creating a home of peace. This verse also talks about love between them; this love is both physical and emotional. For love to exist it must be built on the foundation of a mutually supportive relationship guided by respect and tenderness. As the Quran says; ‘they are like garments for you, and you are garments for them (Quran 2:187)’. That means spouses should provide each other with comfort, intimacy and protection just as clothing protects, warms and dignifies the body.
In Islam marriage is considered an ‘ibaadah’, (an act of pleasing Allah) because it is about a commitment made to each other, that is built on mutual love, interdependence, integrity, trust, respect, companionship and harmony towards each other. It is about building of a home on an Islamic foundation in which peace and tranquillity reigns wherein your offspring are raised in an atmosphere conducive to a moral and upright upbringing so that when we all stand before Him (Allah) on that Promised Day, He will be pleased with them all.
Most marriages start out with great hopes and rosy dreams; spouses are truly committed to making their marriages work. However, as the pressures of life mount, many marriages change over time and it is quite common for some of them to run into problems and start to flounder as the reality of living with a spouse that does not meet with one’s pre-conceived ‘expectations’. However, with hard work and dedication, couples can keep their marriages strong and enjoyable. How is it done? What does it take to create a long-lasting, satisfying marriage?
Below are some of the points that have been taken from a marriage guidance article I read recently and adapted for this purposes.
POSITIVITY Spouses should have far more positive than negative interactions. If there is too much negativity — criticizing, demanding, name-calling, holding grudges, etc. — the relationship will suffer. However, if there is never any negativity, it probably means that frustrations and grievances are not getting ‘air time’ and unresolved tension is accumulating inside one or both partners waiting to ‘explode’ one day.
“Let not some men among you laugh at others: it may be that the (latter) are better than the (former): nor let some women laugh at others: it may be that the (latter) are better than the (former): nor defame nor be sarcastic to each other, nor call each other by (offensive) nicknames.” (49:11)
We all have our individual faults though we may not see them nor want to admit to them but we will easily identify them in others. The key is balance between the two extremes and being supportive of one another. To foster positivity in a marriage that help make them stable and happy, being affectionate, truly listening to each other, taking joy in each other’s achievements and being playful are just a few examples of positive interactions. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said: “The believers who show the most perfect faith are those who have the best character and the best of you are those who are best to their wives”
Another characteristic of happy marriages is empathy; understanding your spouses’ perspective by putting oneself in his or her shoes. By showing that understanding and identifying with your spouse is important for relationship satisfaction. Spouses are more likely to feel good about their marriage and if their partner expresses empathy towards them. Husbands and wives are more content in their relationships when they feel that their partners understand their thoughts and feelings.
Successful married couples grow with each other; it simply isn’t wise to put any person in charge of your happiness. You must be happy with yourself before anyone else can be. You are responsible for your actions, your attitudes and your happiness. Your spouse just enhances those things in your life. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said: “Treat your women well and be kind to them for they are your partners and committed helpers.”
Successful marriages involve both spouses’ commitment to the relationship. The married couple should learn the art of compromise and this usually takes years. The largest parts of compromise are openness to the other’s point of view and good communication when differences arise.
When two people are truly dedicated to making their marriage work, despite the unavoidable challenges and obstacles that come, they are much more likely to have a relationship that lasts. Husbands and wives who only focus on themselves and their own desires are not as likely to find joy and satisfaction in their relationships.
Another basic need in a relationship is each partner wants to feel valued and respected. When people feel that their spouses truly accept them for who they are, they are usually more secure and confident in their relationships. Often, there is conflict in marriage because partners cannot accept the individual preferences of their spouses and try to demand change from one another. When one person tries to force change from another, he or she is usually met with resistance.
However, change is much more likely to occur when spouses respect differences and accept each other unconditionally. Basic acceptance is vital to a happy marriage. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said: “It is the generous (in character) who is good to women, and it is the wicked who insults them.” “Overlook (any human faults) with gracious forgiveness.” (Quran 15:85)
COMPASSION, MUTUAL LOVE AND RESPECT
Other important components of successful marriages are love, compassion and respect for each other. The fact is, as time passes and life becomes increasingly complicated, the marriage is often stressed and suffers as a result. A happy and successful marriage is based on equality. When one or the other dominates strongly, intimacy is replaced by fear of displeasing.
It is all too easy for spouses to lose touch with each other and neglect the love and romance that once came so easily. It is vital that husbands and wives continue to cultivate love and respect for each other throughout their lives. If they do, it is highly likely that their relationships will remain happy and satisfying. Move beyond the fantasy and unrealistic expectations and realize that marriage is about making a conscious choice to love and care for your spouse-even when you do not feel like it.
Seldom can one love someone for whom we have no respect. This also means that we have to learn to overlook and forgive the mistakes of one’s partner. In other words write the good about your partner in stone and the bad in dust, so that when the wind comes it blows away the bad and only the good remains.
Paramount of all, marriage must be based on the teachings of the Noble Qur’an and the teachings and guidance of our Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). To grow spiritually in your marriage requires that you learn to be less selfish and more loving, even during times of conflict. A marriage needs love, support, tolerance, honesty, respect, humility, realistic expectations and a sense of humour to be successful.
The past week or two has been a mixed grill of briefs in so far as the national employment picture is concerned. BDC just injected a further P64 million in Kromberg & Schubert, the automotive cable manufacturer and exporter, to help keep it afloat in the face of the COVID-19-engendered global economic apocalypse. The financial lifeline, which follows an earlier P36 million way back in 2017, hopefully guarantees the jobs of 2500, maybe for another year or two.
It was also reported that a bulb manufacturing company, which is two years old and is youth-led, is making waves in Selibe Phikwe. Called Bulb Word, it is the only bulb manufacturing operation in Botswana and employs 60 people. The figure is not insignificant in a town that had 5000 jobs offloaded in one fell swoop when BCL closed shop in 2016 under seemingly contrived circumstances, so that as I write, two or three buyers have submitted bids to acquire and exhume it from its stage-managed grave.