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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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


“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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