Kemungkinan dan kepastian

Allah menciptakan segala sesuatu secara berpasang-pasangan. Hidup dan mati, terang dan gelap, siang dan malam, dan lain sebagainya termasuk diantaranya hal-hal yang bersifat ‘mungkin’ dan hal-hal bersifat ‘pasti’. Dalam tulisan kali ini, saya akan mengajak pembaca untuk merenungi makna dari dua sifat ini: antara kemungkinan dan kepastian.

Secara logika, yang ‘mungkin’ itu cenderung tak kasat mata, tak teraba, dan samar-samar. Sementara yang ‘pasti’ itu cenderung kasat mata, tampak bentuknya, dan jelas. Walaupun begitu, dalam kehidupan sehari-hari, manusia sering terbalik melihat yang ‘mungkin’ sebagai hal yang pasti dan yang ‘pasti’ sebagai hal yang mungkin. Contoh, hidup itu sifatnya mungkin sementara mati itu sifatnya pasti. Ketika ditanya apakah kita akan hidup esok hari, jawabannya adalah ‘mungkin’, tetapi ketika ditanya apakah kita akan mati, jawabannya adalah ‘pasti’. Namun begitu, banyak manusia yang menjadikan hidup sebagai kepastian sementara mati sebagai kemungkinan. Akibatnya, ambisi manusia pada yang hidup dapat membuatnya lupa pada yang mati. Contoh lain, status pekerjaan itu sifatnya mungkin sementara status sebagai anak, ayah, ibu, suami, atau istri itu sifatnya pasti. Status pekerjaan bisa datang dan pergi, tetapi status sebagai anak atau orang tua, misalnya, akan melekat sepanjang masa. Jika tidak hati-hati, ambisi manusia untuk mengejar status sosial and ekonomi bisa membuatnya lupa untuk menjalankan tanggung jawab moral dan spiritual terhadap keluarganya.

Manusia itu hidup dalam alam kemungkinan dan hanya bisa menawarkan kemungkinan. Anehnya, ketampakan manusia sebagai makhluk yang mungkin membuatnya seolah-olah mampu menawarkan sesuatu yang pasti. Pada sisi yang lain, Allah itu Yang Maha Pasti dan merupakan sumber segala kepastian. Anehnya, ketidaktampakan-Nya oleh manusia sebagai Dzat Yang Maha Pasti membuat sebagian manusia mengira bahwa kepastian-Nya hanya berupa kemungkinan belaka. Wallahua’lam bishowab.

The two worries of young parents

Couples with young children often worry about two things:

1. “Oh, I have to take care of my children, how can I work to make a living?”

2. “Oh, I have to work to make a living, how can I take care of my children?”

Yes, raising children is a difficult task. Unlike formal work which has definite opening hours, raising children (or parenthood) is always open for business until you breathe your final breath. The enormity and endlessness of the responsibility are scary. Therefore it is understandable that some couples (if not most) worry about how to go about in continuing the life as parents. Not to mention that some young parents reject the reality and decide to quit being parents by ending the lives of themselves or their offspring—may our Lord save us from such calamity.

Yet, it might be that such worries can be easier to accept by understanding the nature of the worries themselves. I will go back to the two points above and try to unpack what is happening in each. But before that, I’d like to underline two inevitable situations that young parents must agree and accept: (a) parents are responsible to raise and nurture their children, and (b) parents are responsible for supporting the continuity of the family.

Having accepted the two inevitable situations above, the most fundamental issue in each worry is then the trade-off of time in the face of the risk of not being able to carry out one’s duty. For the first, if I spend most of my time taking care the children, then I will not have enough time to work and earn money for a living. The same goes for the second, if I spend most of my time working, then I will not have enough time to take care of my children. The problem to be solved, then, is to achieve a situation where: I have to take care my children, and I have to provide for my family.

Curiously, there is no one-off answer to these tensions. In one moment, parents may prefer to work more than taking care of the children, and in another moment, parents may prefer to take care of the children more than working. What seems to be right in one moment is contested on a daily basis with the temptation to do the other. Parents move from one worry to another in trying to balance the seemingly unsolvable equation.

But maybe there is a way to satisfy both proportionally. In the way I see it, maybe the answer lies in the word ‘responsible’ and ‘enough’. Maybe that if we parents—with our best endeavour—strive to be responsible to those that we are bestowed as parents, we will be given enough time and provision to make a living. Maybe.

Selfless is another form of selfish

People usually don’t like selfishness. Selfishness manifests in many forms, sometimes as actions which neglect the need of others but sometimes also as inaction and ignorance of others.

By contrast, people admire selflessness. To be selfless often means to be in service to others, and to act with care and concern towards others.

One is often seen as the opposite of the other. It is selfish to be first. It is selfless to be last. Thus selfish is ‘self-first’, and selfless is ‘self-last’.

But what if both selfishness and selflessness share a common ground? What if the basic reason why people display such behaviours is the same?

One of the basic reasons is that either selfishness or selflessness is an attempt to satisfy the self. Selfishness thinks that I will be satisfied when I have or consume something here and now. Selflessness, by contrast, says that life has given me enough and now it is my turn to do something to others. Both forms try to satisfy something in the self. Hence it may as well be said that being selfless is another form of being selfish. Being selfless is not having less interest in one’s own self. On the contrary, one becomes selfless because one knows well what will satisfy the self. Although of course, whether or not the self is eventually satisfied by selfishness or selflessness is a quite different story.