Ever since his passing, I find my thoughts often wondering to Pakistan’s most beloved hero and role model, Edhi sb. Although these thoughts are filled with memories of visiting him in Karachi, lessons from his incredible work and tireless struggle, and stories of the millions of lived he’s affected, occasionally they drift to some difficult questions about the impact of his life. These are troubling thoughts, stemming from an article I read a few months back about a sadness that might have overcome Edhi sb as he realized he would not achieve his life’s mission.
Thinking about this disturbing possibility on a flight back to Lahore — and staring again at another incredible sunset — I thought about how astonishing the clouds are, how dynamic and temporary they are, how they are always changing and are never constant. And I wondered if perhaps our pursuit of change is a bit like the clouds: that the pursuit is never completely complete, but needs constant dedication and attention and engagement.
I thought about Edhi sb and wanted to ask him if he believed his work was possibly not to fix a problem but rather to show a nation (and the world) how to become stewards of that problem.
In her book Hope in the Dark, Rebecca Solnit writes:
Total victory has always seemed like a secular equivalent of paradise: a place where all the problems are solved and there’s nothing to do, a fairly boring place.
She goes on to write that:
History is like weather, not like checkers… A game of checkers ends. The weather never does. That’s why you can’t save anything. Saving is the wrong word, one invoked over and over again, for almost every cause.
These are simple but astonishing ideas: that saving or even changing the world is the wrong way to measure a life. That perhaps we need problems that require infinite attention just as much as those problems need us. That there is no saving or even fixing, but only a constant and infinite struggle for change. Along which there will be speckles and clouds of breathtaking beauty (progress), and a need to never stop moving forward. For victories are temporary, progress needs to be safeguarded, perfect is a yardstick by which everything falls short. And there are people living and leaving incredibly beautiful lives that matter and that have made a difference and that we are now responsible to carry forward.
Rest in peace Dear Edhi sb, knowing that you have completed your work. And that you have given us the inspiration and the path to move it forward, Inshallah.