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Saturday, October 12, 2013

SPEECH : Preventable Diseases of Faith: Suspicion, Fear, Mistrust -- Pluralistic Solutions

Preventable Diseases of Faith: Suspicion, Fear, Mistrust -- Pluralistic Solutions

The milieu of pervasive social diversity requires that serious persons of faith deeply examine the bases of their personal commitment as they try to develop positive awareness of the pluralistic reality of cultural interactions in the world of today and tomorrow. Mike Ghouse will share his perspective.

Metroplex Breakfast Meetings at Canyon Creek Club house, Richardson
Friday, October 11, 2013

Talking points
Diversity is given
Thumb print to religion bud
What is it that we want?
Resources v consumers :Birth of conflicts : 1) Space, 2) Sustenance and 3) nourishment 
What did Moses, Muhammad .... Do?
Build cohesive societies

Trust – is the driver for safe and secure communities and a panacea for suspicion and fear.
The goal of all religions and Civil societies

Dialogue critical to Suspicion- the monster among us
Fear - the right wing fears phobia MUSLIM take over

Mulberry entry-
Unity day Sikh and Zoroastrian example
reversing the alphabetical order

Firm but fair

Our sense of responsibility is akin to wearing the seat belt. If you live in America, and don't wear the seat belt in the car while you drive, not only you feel guilty, but certainly uncomfortable. It was not the case before the seat belt was made mandatory for the driver and the front seat passenger. It is indeed a consciously learned behavior. I feel the same sense of discomfort, when I get to the podium and not mention or include different religions in the speech. My only fear is excluding others in the public square even by mistake.  To allay that fear; I have learned to start my speeches with Pluralism greetings and prayers that are inclusive of every one including my Atheist friends (Pluralism Speaker).

Thanks to my father, mother, and grandfather who lived their lives as an example inculcating Islamic pluralism in my brothers and the sister, like millions of Muslim parents whom you may have not met.  In my talks, I share small examples and incidents where small things do matter. We learned the Islamic version of Vasudhaiva Kutumbukum; the whole world is one family. 
Indeed, Pluralism flows in my veins, and that is respecting the otherness of others and accepting the God-given uniqueness of each one of the 7 billion of us.


My father was a Mayor of the town of Yelahanka in the fifties, and we always had construction work at our apartments or remodeling at our historic house, originally owned by the founder of Bangalore, Hon. Kempe Gowda in the 16th century. My father was a maverick, and dared challenging the abusive but prevalent norms of the society, he had the Dalits (shameful word: Untouchables) work at our place, my mother would make them tea or give them food in the plates and cups we used, it was a big no-no in the society at that time, you ‘kept them' away from your house, just as it was for the Blacks in America then. I am proud of my father, and my mother for supporting him in breaking the uncouth norms. He was constantly called on to quit, and at times threatened, but the dare devil held on to his ground firmly and the town loved him dearly and gradually followed his example.

I saw humiliation in the eyes of men, women and children, who came to collect water from the public tap on each corner of the street, the upper caste person would wash the tap three times before he or she collected the water. It was difficult for me, and I played out my share of the drama and mumbling in protest. Despite the significant progress made, we have a long way to go in the housing discrimination, indeed, even in America we have ways to go, but we are all going forward.

As I am writing this, I grudgingly acknowledge that I have learned nothing new; my father did everything that I am doing now, Gee, a drop of tear rolls down my cheek in reverence to Mahatma Gandhi for becoming a catalyst in uplifting the down trodden and restoring their God-given dignity to them. I just have to pray for the Mahatma for saving the Indian souls by getting rid of guilt from our minds, by having us open our hearts and minds toward the fellow beings, just as MLK did in America. 


My father is my hero and opened the doors of wisdom to us. Pluralism indeed runs in my family. He taught us one of the biggest lessons of my life in social cohesiveness and dealing with extremism that I continue to reflect in my talks, acts and write ups.

During the communal riots in Jabalpur (India) in the early sixties, both Muslims and Hindus were killed in the mayhem, as it happens every time. I wish every father in India, America and elsewhere teaches this lesson to his kids. He was crystal clear on his take; He told us the "individuals" are responsible for the bloodshed and not the religions. If we get the guy who started the conflict and punish him for disturbing peace, rather than calling it a religious issue for the communities to jump in and aggravate it further, we would have saved many lives. He would emphasize that you cannot blame the intangible religion and expect justice; we must blame the individuals who caused it and punish them accordingly for disturbing the peace and thus bring a resolution to the conflict by serving justice. He said you cannot annihilate, kill, hang or beat the religion, then why bark at it?


Simply put, it is respecting the otherness of the other and accepting the uniqueness of each one of us. In cultural terms, it is recognizing your culture as a beautiful expression of life to you, as my own is to me. When it comes to food, it is appreciating the Rice you enjoy over the Naan I delight, or vice-versa. For Americans, it is medium rare stake versus the well done. In religious terms, it is learning to honor the way your worship or bow to the creator in gratitude, is as divine as my own.


By the end of 2020, there will not be a major work place America or India and other places, where you will not find people of different faiths, cultures, ethnicities, races, nationalities and social backgrounds working, eating, playing, marrying, and doing things together.

We need to prepare ourselves for those eventualities to prevent possible conflicts and lay a good foundation for nurturing goodwill and effective functioning of the societies.  Exclusive communities will become a thing of the past. (Foundation for Pluralism, Pluralism Center)

Being a Muslim, I am deeply committed to nurturing the pluralistic values embedded in Islam (World Muslim congress). The role of a Muslim is to mitigate conflicts and nurture goodwill, most people get that, a few don’t, just as with any other religious group.

Pluralism is our future, and as a futurist, based on the trends, I foresee, that two generations from now, we would be comfortable in saying, my religion, culture or life style is one of the many choices, and further down the road, a significant number will proclaim that my way of life is not superior or inferior to any.

They will consider ‘claiming superiority’ would be sheer arrogance and religion (a major part of life to many) is believed to imbue humility that builds societies, communities and nations in creating that elusive kingdom of heaven where all of us can live  without apprehension or fear of the other.


We are one nation under God, indivisible with liberty and justice for all. We are represented by every race, nationality, ethnicity, language, culture and religion. We see God as one, none and many and in every form; male, female, genderless and non-existent, being and non-being, nameless and with innumerable names. Indeed, we must preserve the pluralistic heritage of America. 

 Mike Ghouse is a speaker, thinker and a writer on pluralism, politics, peace, Islam, Israel, India, interfaith, and cohesion at work place. He is committed to building a Cohesive America and offers pluralistic solutions on issues of the day at www.TheGhousediary.com. He believes in Standing up for others and has done that throughout his life as an activist. Mike has a presence on national and local TV, Radio and Print Media. He is a frequent guest on Sean Hannity show on Fox TV, and a commentator on national radio networks, he contributes weekly to the Texas Faith Column at Dallas Morning News; fortnightly at Huffington post; and several other periodicals across the world. His personal site www.MikeGhouse.net indexes all his work through many links.

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