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MANIFESTO to live bravely

Hebatallah Othman


MANIFESTO to live bravely


MANIFESTO to live bravely

Hebatallah Othman


“He who is brave is free.” - Seneca, Roman Philosopher, mid 1st century AD


1 Foreword 4 Introduction 11

Get Real

12

Be Accountable

14

Think Global, Go Local

16

Tread Softly

18 Breathe 20

Put the Break on Fear

22

Give Of Yourself

24

Hope Like Crazy

26

Can You Be Brave?

28

The Brave Ones

30

Who They Are

32

Case Studies and Interviews

34

What You Can Do


Content

This book is printed with low-VOC vegetable-based inks by Delta Printing, Dubai, UAE. It is printed on 100 percent post-consumer FSC-certified recycled paper. It is bound using non-toxic glue and all care has been taken to ensure the entire process of producing this book be done in the most environmetally ethical manner.

Š 2010 Hebatallah Othman All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form, by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, or otherwise without prior permission of the author. Cover design, interior design, page composition/typography, content and photography all credited to 8fold//green


My decision to start writing this book came at a point in my life where I began to truly feel the impact of my every choice. Time no longer stretched ceaselessly before me. In my 27th year, ‘fast forward’ seemed to be the only option on the DVD player of my life. The time that had previously felt infinitely open to my disposal started to speed up and shrink and every moment began to matter intensely. Everything around me spoke of a need for a more conscious way of living. And instead of feeling like it was just another task to put on hold, or tackle when I was older or had ‘more time’, it became an undeniable force confronting me into action. What was this force driving me? I acknowledged it to be what I now call the ‘conceivability of the concept of consequence’ - the realization that everything I do or don’t do has a direct impact on my life, and the bouncy resilience of youth no longer blurred that truth. This realization was not just a personal one.

This book has come into my life at a time when the concept of consequence has never been more clear. Inspired by a university project whose theme borrowed from Huxley’s ‘Brave New World’, I thought long and hard about what it meant to be brave for me. The answer was pretty straightforward and clear: face your fears. Get out of your comfort zone, constantly.

MANIFESTO TO BE BRAVE

Everywhere I looked I saw the consequences of the disconnect between us, the human race, and the Earth we come from. I saw the world through clearer eyes and what I saw was unsettling. The toxic chemicals in everyday cleaning and personal care products; the questionable sources and manipulation of our food; and the blatant disregard the ceaseless urban growth we are a part of has on our environment. All this glared out at me, but perhaps what most frightened me was the apathy demonstrated by the everday Jane and Joe.

1


Foreword Foreword


And a big part of that comfort zone was staying in a place where I chose not to face that Inconvenient Truth that Al Gore so eloquently alerted us all to. The other part of that comfort zone was made up of my peronal fears and set limitations. It wasn’t just about going green or being socially responsible. Being brave for me also meant confronting anything and everything that held me back. One of the beliefs I had accepted as true glared out at me as being inconsistent with my new endeavor of being brave: that I could only write a book ‘later’, when I was older and wiser and it didn’t scare me quite so much. Starting this project, I realized I had some fear-bashing to do. What would I say? I’m no expert! How could my voice change anything? But I had to say something; I felt compelled to spread the word. Power of thought communicated through the written word has always fascinated me, and truth be told I had dreamt of writing a book since the tender age of twelve. I didn’t think it would be this kind of book, nor did I expect to tackle this dream so soon. And granted, this isn’t a big deal. It is a pretty small book. Maybe if I’m lucky ten people will read it. But that doesn’t matter to me. All that matters is that I do this because I feel in my gut that I need to.

I can only hope that my reader will possibly become inspired even in a small way to make a change as well. Hebatallah Othman, December 2010

MANIFESTO TO BE BRAVE

Finishing this project will be testament to the fact that we can all change. If I can do this, then anyone who is willing has the capacity to switch their limiting beliefs for empowering, influential ones, and brave their fears along the way.

3


Out of necessity for producing some form of expression, I was compelled to create a vehicle for putting my thoughts into order, and effect change in myself


This is a manifesto for living a brave life. It was written with my own path in mind, but you can adapt it to your own ethos. The phrase ‘Brave New World’, which was the inspiration behind this project, brings to mind several other words and phrases denoting hope; ‘renewal’, for example; ‘another chance’, and ‘a new beginning’ also come to mind. However, the first word - brave - in this phrase implies danger, or at best an extreme challenge ahead. Writing this book, I aim to tackle the concerns of the individual and their responsibility in the path through this Brave New World - specifically in this little new world we call the UAE. Each and every community is a subset of the wider, global one, and each and every community lives with its own challenges. At present, and I predict for some time to come, many eyes are on Dubai and the UAE. Dubai in particular has already come under massive attack over the last few years in the international media for environmental and human rights issues. However, instead of focusing on what is wrong here, I wish to focus on what is right. I want to look closer and listen to those voices of change that do exist amongst us.

It’s very easy here to ignore the big picture. However the recent economic crisis, and several initiatives like Masdar, the carbon-neutral zero-waste city being built in the capital city of Abu Dhabi for instance, have started a tiny shift in awareness and highlighted the ‘concept of consequence’ in our society.

MANIFESTO TO BE BRAVE

Those of us living in the UAE all know how distracting life here can be; how the glitz and the seemingly never-ending growth keep many too entertained to think deeper about the impact our lifestyles are making on the country and on the planet.

5


Introduction


Certain individuals and organizations in the UAE have taken admirable steps in facilitating change on a communal level, and besides looking at how a brave citizen of the world can evolve his or her viewpoint and take action towards living responsibly and bravely, this book, which is in essence the beginning of an ongoing personal project, aims to gather inspiration and guidelines for brave, fearless and responsible living from their stories. It is not about being perfectly ‘green’ or recycling the most garbage; it is about thought and the way we use its power to influence ourselves and those around us to make brave changes.

MANIFESTO TO BE BRAVE

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7


MANIFESTO to live bravely


As Michael Jackson sung way back when, ‘We are the world’. This sentiment is not only true, it’s never been more true. What is happening to our planet might be so scary to some of us that we’d rather hide under our security blankets of comfortable mundanity and web-induced stupor. But its not just the planet that is suffering. As symbiotic as any relationship can get, our connection to the Earth predisposes us naturally to its ills. What makes the Earth sick, is literally making us sick. The truth is is that so much of how we are living as a human race is absolutely unsustainable for the earth. We have been living as if we have infinite resources, and sooner or later the toll on the Earth will be so catastrophic that your children or your children’s children may not even survive because of it. Realize that you don’t have to change the world; just start with yourself. The beautiful thing about conducting your life in a brave manner is that it has a ripple effect - positive action attracts more positive action and that’s when real change happens.

Shaking off the shackles of apathy and disconnect is not only a brave thing to do, but a very necessary one at that. There is a crisis in our world. It is time for us to be brave. Will we accept the challenge and facilitate change, or ignore it?

MANIFESTO TO BE BRAVE

So yes, do get real and realize it actually is your problem. You are a human being after all, aren’t you? Clear out the muck that has been clouding your vision and vow to take up arms against laziness.

11


GET REAL


Social-responsibility was the buzzword before sustainability became the new one. In essence, they are the same concept: holding oneself accountable for all one’s actions.

Support only those companies whose own manifestos, if they cho0se to write them, put ethics and the environment at the top of their priorities. There are many new brands now whose ‘raison d’être’s came about out of a desire to give back to humankind. Support them, and you will encourage more like them.

MANIFESTO TO BE BRAVE

As a brave individual, you choose to take the rockier road and go the extra mile to do things right. Whether active or passive, act in a manner that benefits society rather than pulls it back by just adding to the sheer mass of humanity whose actions degrade rather than improve the situation by thinking only of the bottom-line (businesses), or the price-point (consumers) instead of the bigger picture.

13


BE ACCOUNTABLE

be accountab

12


think global, act local


Truly making a change means first looking towards your own self, household, and community to see what can be done. If we would all turn inward and focus on what we can do and only what we can do, the herculean nature of the task is brought down to a much more manageable scale.

THINK GLOBAL, ACT LOCAL

One of the easiest things you can do to make a change is to support local farms and those of neighboring countries. Avoid buying produce that has been flown from halfway around the world. Choose tomatoes from Jordan, cauliflower from Iran, and organic cucumbers grown in the UAE. Not only are you supporting your health with fresh food and that of the planet by choosing against a large carbon footprint, you’re doing the socially responsible thing by giving farmers in your region a chance to flourish.

14


Think about your life in terms of footprints.

As a brave individual, you take responsibility for at least your own footprints, and try to lessen their impact as much as you can. If possible, buy a hybrid car, or you take the metro frequently. When the weather permits, ride a bike or catch a lift with someone else who is going where you are. If you travel a lot arrange to plant trees in some part of the world to offset the carbon your flights will generate. The same goes for the products you buy. Think about their life-cycles. How will you dispose of them once you no longer want them? Are they sustainable or do they just contribute to more ‘stuff’ crowding our planet?

MANIFESTO TO BE BRAVE

The more you are aware of how your choices affect the earth, the more informed you are and the better able to choose wisely. We are each here for a limited time and yet as a human race our collective footprint will be forever etched deeply into this planet.

17


tread softly


breathe


Most of us run around subsisting on shallow breath - resulting in fatigue, low concentration and a sense of disconnectedness from our bodies. As children, full deep breathing came naturally, feeding all our tiny cells with waves of pure potent oxygen and flushing our systems with a natural energy high. Laughter was second only to breath. As we grew older, we forgot about our most primal need for a less shallow, more focused approach to breath - and we also forgot the simple pleasure of laughing until our bellies ached. But the body works miracles, and as soon as we return to inhaling and exhaling in a more mindful way - and making space in our day to laugh - our bodies will respond with appreciation and a return to health and energy. A great way to start to breathe deep and get healthier is to take up some sort of mind body exercise. Meditation works wonders on many levels. So does yoga, pilates, Tai Chi, or any other exercise that centres on the breath, causing you to awaken to your own vitality and putting you in touch with your inner self and your physical being. Try it, at least just so you can say you have. The more you benefit mentally, the more your body will benefit too. Experiment and find out what works for you. Have fun. Eat local, eat clean, eat organic. Base your diet on plants - lots of vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds and limited grains - and look for grass-fed, organic beef and chicken, as well as wild salmon and fish that has been caught sustainably, wherever you can find them. Fall in love with preparing this delicious food for yourself and your loved ones, and as you feed your body, feed your soul with loving thoughts as well, for the thoughts you plant in your mind get rooted there and grow.

BE WELL

Choose to be proactive in your quest for a sound body, for it will only aid you on your quest to be brave - and that in itself is an act ripe with courage, for you are taking charge of your own well-being.

18


put the

brake on MANIFESTO TO BE BRAVE

fear

21


We all know the feeling of fear and how it can cripple us in the wake of even our best intentions. The fear that we can’t really make a difference, so why try. The fear that being responsible will take the fun out of life because we’re no longer blind to our responsibilities. The moment we start trekking beyond borders, fear siezes the opportunity to flex its muscles like a prison guard and bullies us right back into the prison that is our comfort zone. Accept the fear as a challenge. Accept that it exists, and instead of trying to be utterly fearless, just put the fear aside. The act of simple acknowledgement is already half the battle won. The other half lies in confronting it. Ask it some questions. Challenge its right to exist. Why are you holding me back? Are you really serving me by being in my life? Almost 100% of the time, the answer is no.

PUT THE BREAK ON FEAR

Most of the time fear is just your ego trying to keep you small.

20

Face your fears, and revel in the rush you get when they no longer hold you captive. You’ll feel wonderful, because the fear will have diminished, and you will have survived.


It’s simple. Probably one of the most courageous things you can do is set aside some time out of your own life for the benefit of another. Whether that ‘other’ is a less-fortunate child or the health of the coral reefs on your shores, or using your own talents in a small way to raise awareness for a particular issue close to your heart, the repercussions are manifold. Not only will it cause a ripple effect in someone else’s world, it will also spill over into your own.

MANIFESTO TO BE BRAVE

All the money and fame in the world cannot buy that which is most precious: peace of mind, and fulfllment.

23


give of yourself


hope like crazy


If we don’t have hope, as individuals, we’ll never have hope as humanity.

HOPE LIKE CRAZY

It’s easy to despair. But it’s even easier to open your eyes and look around you. This world we are a part of is so beautiful. Just look beyond the man-made distractions and look to the essence of our planet: pure, indescribable beauty.

24

When you don’t know what you can lose, you don’t try to save it. It’s time to start hoping like crazy.


MANIFESTO TO BE BRAVE

Can YOU be brave?

27


CAN YOU BE BRAVE?

Change comes from being brave and developing the ability to eschew the norm

26


the Brave Ones Taking a closer look at those individuals going against the odds and effecting change locally


THE GREEN SHEIKH Sheikh Abdulaziz Al Nuaimi Member of the Ajman Royal Family

The mother-figure and leader Hala Kazim Founder of Journey Through Change

The VOLUNTEER Lola Lopez Founder of Volunteer in Dubai/Sharjah and Aid in Motion

The solar-powered man Haidar Talib Emirati Energy Leader and Inventor

The first Eco-warrior Habiba Al Marashi Founder of Emirates Environment Group

THE camel-saviour Cameron Oliver Founder of Camerons Camel Campaign


THE BRAVE ONES

who they are

30


interviews


case studies


choose wisely

go on a journey

donate your time

love the sea

save the camels

be with haidar

join a campaign

BE A PHILANTHROPIST

go organic

Go local

Information on over-fishing in the UAE www.choosewisely.ae

Volunteering opportunities in your area www.volunteerindubai.com

Join Cameron on his quest www.cameronscamelcampaign.com

Explore all the different initiatives you can support locally www.eeg-uae.org

The largest organic supermarket in the world, right here in the UAE www.organicfoodsandcafe.org

Organize your life and connect with others www.journeythroughchange.com

Care for our marine eco-systems www.emeg.ae

Support our local renewable energy leader www.bewithhaidar.com

Or see how your company can become socially responsible www.terraprimus.org

Local produce diligently sourced for you www.bakerandspiceme.com


find out more

WHAT YOU CAN DO

or why not start something?

34


to the light in all of us


Manifesto to live bravely