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March 19, 2012 | by  | in Features |
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A Week Without Evil

Some people like summer days that taste like ice-cream, whilst others like swirling around wearing red heels in over-packed clubs—but not me. I like torturing myself for a week trying to be as non-evil as possible according to the four major religions: Christianity, Islam, Hinduism and Buddhism—and then writing about it. This is what happened:*

* Disclaimer: I am sure that I haven’t even gotten close to the bottom of all that your religion is about and ask you to forgive my ignorance.

DAY 1: CONFUSION & DELUSION

After spending half the day reading up on religious restrictions off a bright LCD screen, I stared angrily, blankly, into my crème-khaki wall. The stare remained fixed until, at the end of the day, when listening to a wonderful busker on Cuba I was reminded that life was still beautiful and free. Also, found a way to make myself feel bad for doing anything through deductive arguing—including buying a plastic water bottle.

DAY 2: HIJABE-A-BE KIDDIN’ ME

I woke before dawn and ran (let’s be honest, walked) up Mt Vic. From the peak of the mountain (read: hill), I watched the sun rise and had my first “quiet time” of five (my alternative to Muslim prescribed prayer times). Pulling on my jeans and blue cardigan, I felt okay. Then there was the navy-blue headscarf. Breezily wrapping it around my head, I turned to look in the mirror. The navy scarf flew to the floor. No, not doing this. I felt as though I’d lost my femininity. After an internal debate, I did my makeup to ease the transition and tried again. This was more than a headscarf; I had put on a whole frikken ideology.

It was petrifying. I felt judged. At the same time, I felt camaraderie with fellow head-coverers, some ‘sup’ nods were given (read: none returned). Later, I started to enjoy myself—the cotton headscarf was a snug pillow for my ears. Also, the feminist in me felt empowered.

DAY 3 & 4: NOBLE TRUTHS & ROSARIES

Dawn, again.

Yet, seeing the sunrise shimmering through my curtains was a blessing. I hit morning yoga to get brownie points from Buddha. As I dressed, I instinctually reached for modest clothes. That said, old habits die hard—I found myself doing the same old things, perhaps only a little more aware of them. Adopting any religious ideal takes longer than a week; perhaps, it takes longer than a lifetime. It’s the little things, like noticing yourself talking more than listening; and being unaware of how your actions affect others. Altruism isn’t an easy road to follow.

DAY 5: SPILT MILK

Dawn. I don’t know how people get up this early. I felt exhausted. More yoga: this was starting a brilliant habit. I broke down later, when I couldn’t justify buying over-priced iced chocolate rather than donating the money.

DAY 6 & 7: EXIT THROUGH THE SHOP

“To practice Right Livelihood, you have to find a way to earn your living without transgressing your ideals of love and compassion”—Buddha

I stared at the racks of clothes and had no idea whether the seamstresses were maltreated. Probably. I am painfully aware that we Westerners exploit everything we touch. The system isn’t perfect. I worked on Sunday—and yes, I shouldn’t work on the Sabbath, but I’m just too much of a money-hungry capitalist not to. It’s not easy to stop being selfish. That’s the problem with following a religion. I like trying though.▲

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