Sheriff Ahmed


When I was growing up my mother told me to observe nature, because most of what you need to know and learn you can see it in nature. She also told me that human beings and our natural world are both God’s creation, so if you look after both of these, you are indeed serving God.

As a child I really did not fully comprehend what she was telling me. As we approach Christmas, I find myself reflecting on all that has transpired over the years, and what lies ahead. And more and more, I find meaning in my mother’s words.

Nature teaches us the value of renewals. Fresh blue skies and a beautiful sunrise follows every storm. Daylight follows the darkness of night. And sometimes the storm cloud in the sky actually enhances the beauty of a sunrise or a sunset.

Likewise, hardships are part of the life cycle, and a lot depends upon how we view these hardships. I see a glass as half-full instead of half-empty, and I know that in order to see the full glory and beauty of the rainbow, we first need to go through rain.

I’ve also come to realize that life is full of the proverbial yin and yang to balance out things. Ocean tide washes away even the best sand castles and beach art, leaving a fresh and smooth beach for the next person to explore.

There are other places where we observe this constant dance of contrasts. In many international airports I have observed the tearful goodbyes of people in the departure halls, and just a few steps away in the arrival halls I saw the joyful smiles and embraces of hellos.

In hospitals this plays out much more starkly. The nervous smiles of new parents and the cries of new babies in the maternity ward harks the beginning of the life journey. And just on the next floor of the hospital the full circle of life plays out in the anguished tears of people who are saying goodbyes to their loved ones.

While on highways, I’ve often wondered about people driving their cars at all hours of the day and night. I am absolutely sure each one has a story which could feed the beginnings of a blockbuster book or movie. But in the grand scheme of things the world doesn’t skip a beat, regardless of what is happening in the lives of anyone, and what may be behind their tears or smiles. The world marches on to the tune of time, with the sun rising and setting every day, as it has been doing for millennia.

So, what are we to think of this time we call life? Here are a few thoughts:

The eternal fact is that it is finite. No one can add or subtract a single second from their apportioned time.

We all come into this world with nothing, and we can’t take anything back with us when we leave.

Life is full of curveballs, and it is true that it is not equal or kind to everyone. It also doesn’t owe anything to anyone, nor is it fair to everyone. But how we deal with life and what we make of this gift of time is all up to us.

At some point or other all of us have been judgmental about someone else. But really, do we have any right whatsoever to judge someone? Everyone’s action for a set of circumstances will be different based on who that person is, their background, their thoughts and feelings, and what life served up on their plate. That’s what makes this world so unique. What we need is less judgment and more empathy, less telling and more listening.

Life is a gift. What we do with that gift is up to each one of us. Cities and communities are gathering places with symbiotic links where good things benefit everyone, and anything bad also negatively impact everyone. So it is up to all of us to improve our own communities and cities.

All of us have different faith beliefs which tell us to show goodwill, kindness and love towards everyone. But history is also replete with examples of people bringing harm, hatred and injury to many people, and yes, all in the name of their faith to justify their actions. We all need to guard against that.

I am a firm believer in the inherent strength, resiliency and goodwill of people at large in our country. The strength of our nation lies in the collective strength of all of us banding together to help our country reach its full potential. And time after time we have shown how we can solve issues and face challenges if we all work together towards a common goal.

Every day is a new opportunity for personal renewal, and to make a difference in our community. What better time than this holiday season to pause and reflect on our own gift of life? All of us need to extend a hand to the less fortunate amongst us in order to improve the overall health of the community for everyone.

Life is a tremendous gift to be cherished. Let us do all we can to collectively make it beautiful for everyone.

Sheriff Ahmed is a 35-year resident of Savage who contributes to Community Voices.