This was a wake-up call for me to think through life, and I am pleased to share the following, this was written when the surgery was originally scheduled.
STARTING OVER WITH A CLEAN SLATE
This is not my obituary. It is a moment of reflection, and if it prompts you to think about your own mirror, then I have served the purpose of writing this note.
My bypass surgery is scheduled for 11/11/13. Thank God it gave me the opportunity to be silly, ridiculous, pensive and thoughtful. Do all of us get that luxury? What if you don’t? What are the things you would have done or not done? This is an exercise for such eventuality.
Another 20 minutes would have ended my life on July 9, 2013 without giving a notice, it was indeed a major heart attack. Of course, no one but the manufacturer knows the life of our battery; we don’t come stamped with unlimited life warranty. I hope you find this booklet to be your mirror.
This is one of the most beautiful moments of my life, and wish every one of us takes a moment to reflect on life. It is liberating to know ourselves and re-assess the priorities of our life.
Michami Dukadam is a powerful phrase I have learned from Jainism, it simply means I will wipe all the negative thoughts from my mind, and ask you to do the same, I seek forgiveness from you, and I reciprocate the same. It will release both of us from burdensome bondage into Moksha, Mukti, Nijaat, Salvation or freedom.
Purpose of this booklet
Takraron ko ab chodiye, sukoon hum kab payeiengay
if we keep arguing, when will we find peace?
When will we stop and smell the roses?
Whether it is new or an age old tension between you and you sister, brother, parents, spouse or kids, and friends, customers or clients, how long will you carry the burden? Tum bhi ek din marja ogay, hum bhi marjayeingay, then why carry it? Death will end the complaints any way; why not end them today, now?
Saleh Shariff, Adil Khan, D. D. Maini, Harbans Lal, Basheer Ahmed, Len Ellis, Nauman Anwar, Farooq Hemani, Surinder Mittal, Mani Rahman, Bill Matthews, Lata and Sante Chary, Joshua & Mary Ann Thompson-Frenk, Rizwan Sheikh, Mirza Beg, John Hammond, , Yuri and Mark Hernandez, Amir Rupani, Jerry Middents, Zaf Tabani, Petra Weldes, Zafar Iqbal, Jon Halsey, Tatiana Androsov, Mohammad Suleman, Michael Jenkins, Kundan Sharma, Shabnam Modgil, Kathy Joplin, Lon Burnam, Karen Hollie, AG Chini, Rafi Faruki, Moazam Syed, Asifa Ijaz, Amer Shakil, Amanullah Khan, Sultan Choudhary, Marylou Ghyst, Rita Clarke, Zia Shaikh, Zafarullah Hanjra, Linda Evans, Laura Sutherland, Butch Rahman, Sher Suleman, Paul Goldstein, Suzanne Carter, Mumtaz Mir, Sultan Shahin, Vatsa Ramanathan, Gow Fields, Hasan Mahmud, Peggy Larney, Irfan Ali, DW Lewis, Bangalore Harbans Lal, A. Ramachandran and many more to be added.
I found my Mirror
I HOPE YOU CAN FIND YOURS
Why should they spend the time in disposing off the stuff they don’t need? Should I burden them with a sense of guilt to get rid of that stuff, or should my love set them free? Should I worry what they will do to my stuff after I am gone?
Can I base my life on goodwill, or freedom? Or should I become a watch dog guarding my ego, my way of doing things, controlling others and living on edge, seeking perfection in others. To be tense and give tension to others? It’s a choice we make, to enjoy life with or without things we need, and do things that give us peace of mind.
I FOUND MY MIRROR
With a few exceptions that I regret, I have not maligned any one, or gone around telling bad things about others. I have not tried to control other people’s life to suit my whims, what would be the gain? I have no grudges in my heart either.
What is the gain with hatred and malice or backbiting? It’s actually a loss, it keeps you bonded with dislike of others.
What will I do?
IF I SURVIVE THE SURGERY
This is my plan, and you will find your plan, if you are given a choice to think or write. I was able to write at least a dozen things.
2. Establish the Center for Pluralism, an institute to study and teach cultural, family, social, political, and religious pluralism. The shortest definition for Pluralism would be-respecting the otherness of others. When we do that, conflicts fade and solutions emerge.
We have to consciously build cohesive societies where no human has to live in tension, discomfort or fear of the other.
3. Production of footage for the film, Americans Together, building a cohesive America. Post production and marketing to be done in 2015-16. Hopefully, this would be a first film where every representation of America can be seen. It is again a movie to reflect the book Standing up for others and building cohesive societies. We need funding for this.
4. Push the Interfaith dialogue to its limits, so we can face tough issues head-on, and get it over with it. I hope we learn to live with our differences, rather than pretending to be nice, but live with a load of sill-will within. Such attitudes are explosive and generate phrases like they asked for it, or they deserved it when the other group is in difficult situation.
5. Initiate and continue with the Intrafaith dialogue in Islam, bringing different traditions to discuss the differences and learn to respect the otherness of others and accept the difference without denigrating each other.
Gratitude to family and friendsTHANK YOU, THANK YOU AND THANK YOU
I am blessed to have married Yasmeen, a great wife, who lets me be me, and who will be who she is. One of the tilting reasons we met was the love for Urdu Poetry. Over the years, we have come to respect the otherness of other and have accepted the individuality of each other. It will not be a perfect life, but a great life together.
Nothing gives more joy to a father than having good caring, loving and responsible children. In my case open minded kids with no prejudice, and I am happy about it. I am proud of my son Jeff, daughter in law Fern and daughter Mina for having an open mind towards fellow beings. I am blessed to have them, and I am looking forward to spending a lot of time with my grandkid Jayden, I am hoping to hold his finger and walk to the school, and tell him stories and teach him pluralism.
I could not ask for greater family and friends than I have. However, I feel for those who are alone, it’s not easy for them, and I request each one of you to give a minute to those who need to be heard, particularly during the holidays.
Over the last several years on major holidays, particularly duringThanksgiving, Christmas, Mothers day, Fathers Day and New Years, I share my phone number on facebook, twitter, and even the articles I write at Huffington post and elsewhere for those who are alone, to give me a call, there is a brother in me, and a fatherly figure in me to listen. You can do it too. It brings happiness to you and them equally. My Akka (older sister) Late Dr. Kalpana Rao use to cook dinner on thanksgiving for those who did not have families, what a good example to follow.
My sister called me up this morning and asked me to come home and have the surgery done in Bangalore. She said that she and my brothers have decided to keep a portion of their monies from inheritance for my care! My eyes welled up with emotion, these are my younger siblings! I am blessed.
Standing up for Others
IF YOU ARE NOT WILLING TO STAND UP FOR OTHERS,
WHY SHOULD ANY ONE STAND UP FOR YOU?
The story is same whether it is Bosnia, Rwanda, Gujarat, Sikh Genocide, Myanmar, Bangladesh, Native Americans, Africans, Maya…. There is a pattern of hatred, control and the insecure animal in the perpetrators. The world betrayed the victims in all cases. I saw the pain in their eyes standing in front of that pit with dignity. They were looking at the world and saying in their hearts "where are you my friends, where are you? Where is humanity in you? Are you just going to let this happen? What happened to our friendship, did that mean anything to you?
If we allow bias towards any human, we miss out a part of God in our spirit. Fight your bias towards others from now on, and see how happy you would be. We are made to be good humans and if we become one, we are home!
Senator Williams' Remarks Offended Hindus
Governor of Kentucky attended a factory opening ceremony that created 275 jobs for Americans in Elizabeth Town. Senator Williams criticized the Governor for sitting cross-legged with a "dot on his forehead," and described the ceremony as "polytheistic." It is not only a Hindu issue, it is indeed an American issue and so I spoke up and wrote a piece and hope to meet him and share the wisdom of Hinduism. Unless we stand up for each other, we cannot expect an America where all men would be equal. Many such stories are included in the chapter of Standing up for Hindus.
Don’t make the mistake that one has to be gay to stand up for gays, if that were the case, the world would be chaotic and ruthlessly selfish. Each one of the spiritual masters worked to build a society where no one had to live in fear of the other, as it will keep everyone in the fear. The role of religion was to build cohesive and secure societies. I have taken a strong stand in support of the rights of LGBT, and again it is tempting to do nothing and save harassment, then what good am I, if I cannot stand up for a fellow human?
Standing up for immigrants.
Standing up for Baha'i, Buddhist, Jain, Sikh, Native Americans, Jain, Wicca, Zoroastrian and others…. and of course Muslims! The book has a chapter for every group of people.
Prophet Muhammad’s words have inspired me —when you see oppression against fellow beings—stop it, and if you cannot do that, talk with them, then he concludes, the least you can do is to speak up. At least you have fulfilled your individual responsibility to see justice. Mahatma Gandhi and MLK have said—injustice to one is like injustice to all.
I am dedicating the book to two of the individuals I admire, not for their take, but for who they are; Rev. Sun Myung Moon and Brother Sean Hannity.
I urge you to speak up when you see oppression of any human, particularly those who are not related to you in any form.
THIS IS THE JOY OF MY LIFE
We have been celebrating 10 years of Unity in a determined way. Annual Unity Day USA events – to build bridges, undo-stereotyping and bring people of different faiths, races, politics, and ethnicities together to focus on the common good and safety of America.
Each one of us feels at home, and at peace when we have a sense of Unity, it happens when New Town shooting takes place, 9/11 occurs or Tsunami hits. Unity day is about nurturing Unity during peace times as well as times of conflict. It is driven by the belief that knowledge of each other leads to understanding, and understanding to acceptance of each other.
We have to be genuine in our effort, no tokenism but sincere inclusion of all Americans, yes, every American is included. Please visit www.UnitydayUSA.com
CONFLICT MITIGATION MODEL
A major change in dealing with conflicts in the history of the world is established now. The Mulberry event seeded the change about how Muslims would react to future Quran burning, criticism of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) and Islam, and how Americans perceive Muslims; an alternate but standard behavior was established for the first time in history. Respecting the freedom of speech of Pastor Jones and respecting the Quran, the precise point made to Muslims and fellow Americans respectively. The program communicated those two clear messages to the world.
It’s a powerful story –over 300 news papers around the world carried our story, Saudi, Pakistan, India’s leading papers endorsed our model, the Shia and Sunni News agencies reported in Iran, Afghanistan and Iraq. Our men and women were out of harm’s way, and no violence took place this time… anywhere. I am encouraged by the tremendous support it received from all corners of the world. It was good to see Malala replicate it in her own way, and if we keep doing this… we can see a lessening of violence and mitigation of conflicts. It takes two sides to see peace. It’s a special report on Quran burning at www.WorldMuslimCongress.com.
It is a purposeful event for people to come together and develop empathy for each other’s pain, and look to each other’s suffering in the most human way. Unless we feel the pain of others, why would others feel our pain? It is also an event that takes you out of the “me, me and my suffering only” to, “we are all in this together” and have to work and bring the change for common good.
Until we started the program, non-Jews never commemorated Holocaust anywhere; we were the first ones to commemorate for the general public. It is also a Muslim initiative to bring about understanding between peoples. www.HolocaustandGenocides.com
Pastor Robert Jeffress of Dallas created a storm in Dallas when he said, Quran is an evil book written by an evil prophet. So, we stepped in to deal with him in the most civilized and peaceful manner - 5 TV interviews, and three Major news paper reports later – we organized the Quran conference – with ten non-Muslim clergy to demystify the myths about a few verses that have been maligned. It is an incredible model of demystifying myths about others.
Finding the truth is our own responsibility, we cannot feel anxious about what others talk, we have to do the research, ultimately, no one is responsible for our peace of mind, but ourselves. The feedback from the pastors was just incredible! www.Quraanconference.com
These men and women have shaped my attitudes, and I thank them, they are models of pluralism. Prophet Muhammad, Jesus Christ, Krishna, Buddha, Guru Nanak, Mahatma Gandhi, Bahaullah, MLK., Mother Teresa, Abraham Lincoln, Dale Carnegie, Jiddu Krishnamurthy, Gusdar Abdurrahman Wahid, Swami Vivekananda, Abraham Joshua Heschel, Rev. Moon, my Nana (Maternal Grandfather), my father and mother. Among the living pluralists, HH Aga Khan, Barack Obama, Javed Ahmad Ghamidi, Bishop Tutu and Pope Francis.
Some of the wars, death and destruction are not with the “outsiders” but with folks from within. Each sub-group undermines the other and arrogantly claims superiority over the other including denigration. God has not signed a deal with any one behind other people’s back. No religion is an exception to this, particularly the Christian and Islamic faiths.
Perhaps, I am one of the few Muslims in the world with zero bias towards others. I follow Quran which teaches me to respect the otherness of others and accept the God given uniqueness of each faith. If I survive, I will continue my work. It is not easy, I get attacked and discouraged every now and then.
We have conducted 26 workshops in understanding the essence of all the beautiful religions, including Atheism. The idea is to know each other.
People of different faiths, races and backgrounds come together
It is our individual and collective responsibility to keep law and order and faithfully guard the safety of every citizen. Hate, prejudice and stereotyping are some of the many root causes of disrupting the peace in a society. It is our duty to track down the source of such ill-will and work on mitigating it.
We believe humans are open to choices, and will make best choices if the path is paved for them. We have provided many paths, through our annual events, like Unity Day, Reflections on Holocaust and Genocides, Thanksgiving and other conferences. It has been our experience that our participants walk out with a commitment to be less biased, less prejudiced and willing to stand up for the others for the sake of common good.
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The purpose of this event is education, we hope to learn to acknowledge our failings, and our mission is to create awareness of the inhumanity within each one of us to find the solutions.
Please mark your calendar, invite your friends and invite sponsors for the event and share about this among your friends. We also would like to list all the organizations who commit to be present at the event. All donors over $100 will be listed on this website.
A DOCUMENTARY FILM
It is time we bring fruition to the change we want, here is the first step towardbuilding an America that is good for every one of us. Our focus will be overall prosperity rather than pitting one against the other.
Every American must feel a sense of security, safety and freedom. If we can learn to accept te otherness of others and respect the God given uniqueness of each one of us, then conflicts fade and solutions emerge.
Collectively, 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. America Together Foundation is committed to preserve this pluralistic heritage of America.
We are looking for partners:
Americans Together is an educational and pragmatic initiative to weed out myths from reality, which are hurting the social cohesiveness of America. The myths are vigorously propagated by a few to disrupt the delicate balance in our society by pitting one American against the other for their own perceived gains. We need to counter it with love, caring and affection. We have the systems in place to rectify.
1. Anti-Semitism—Not a week goes by without someone making an anti-Semitic remark, and shame on us for not saying a thing about it. If each one of us can stand up against Anti-Semitism, we will individually contribute towards a better society that we really want to live in. It is subtle. Should others do that to you?
2. Quraan Conference—Myths are manufactured about others without any substantiation; it is an old business of maligning others to have a momentary gain. Those who malign have not made a sincere effort to find the truth, let alone understand the book.
3. GLBT—It is embarrassing to watch our presidential candidates’ vitriolic against GLBT’s, yet they subscribe to our constitution where all men are equal, what hypocrisy?
4. Racial issues —We are developing the content for understanding racism and hope to make short documentaries and find solutions to this evil, it will not go away for a few generations, all we can do is to make an effort to reduce it and bring awareness to the society, how it hurts and affects the overall society.
6. Women's rights—Women are 51% of our population, yet they are not fully represented in the government and leadership of the nation in civil and religious corridors. This has got to change for the sake of creating a better society. It should be your character and skills that determine your abilities and NOT your race, gender or religion...more
7. Native Americans—Chief Seattle, a Native American said this perfectly, “All things are connected. Whatever befalls the earth befalls the sons of the earth. Man did not weave the web of life; he is merely a strand in it. Whatever he does to the webs, he does it to himself."
Our mission is to encourage individuals to develop an open mind and an open heart toward their fellow beings. If we can learn to respect the otherness of other and accept the genetic uniqueness of each one of us, then conflicts fade and solutions emerge.
I started writing about social issues in 1970, mostly in Urdu Language. Then through 1977 I wrote 42 some poems and 24 articles.
There was a gap of 17 years between 1978 and 1993, I did not write much, neither did I socialize. Just work, family and home. Whatever I wrote was in commentary format here and there.
In 1993 I published a news paper called Asian News and started writing again, however, I lost all the pieces I had written till 1999 - when I opened my blog at Sulekha.Com. Since then most of my writing has been preserved. Still there is a lot I did not save, I regret that. Then through 2005 - much of my writing is saved at Yahoogroups. I have over 40 blogs on just about every topic I have dealt with.
But this Blog is full time blog since 2008 and all my writing go here first. One of the most amusing thing I discovered in the last month was that I have not changed any since 1971. The pieces I wrote about God, Society, Religion is identical to what I am writing now. I wonder why did I not improve? www.TheGhouseDiary.com
"Peace hinges on hopes for the Palestinians and security for the Israelis, anything short of justice will not produce sustainable peace" - If Jews and Muslims can take the position that we cannot have peace when others around us don't and work on first removing bias and stereotyping from their own minds, conflicts will fade and solutions emerge. (more on left panel) www.IsraelPalestineDialogue.com
"We provide all people the ability to celebrate marriage and other religious functions according to their beliefs. We believe that this is an innate human right and is also protected by the 1st Amendment. Our values come from the understanding that all people, whether religious or not, have deep personal values and should be treated with respect, acceptance, and understanding."
Marriage is a celebration that brings people together, and we want to extend that ethos further by being a church comprised of a wide cross-section of people that have found common ground in the service of bringing people together.
To begin, the legal dimension to officiating a wedding simply involves completing a piece of paper, the marriage license. The marriage license is the legal document of marriage. It is filed for by the couple from their local government prior to the wedding.
We are proud of our heritage - a multi-faith, multi-cultural, multi-regional and multi-linguistic society, where we have come to accept and respect every which way people have lived their lives. For over 5000 years, India has been a beacon of pluralism - it has embraced Islam, Christianity, Judaism, Baha’i and Zoroastrianism to include in the array of the indigenous religions; Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism and Sikhism.
Indian democracy is a shining example to the world, where the people have peacefully transferred the powers. Indians are inherently secular and economically capitalistic. They believe in "live-and-let-live" life style, which is the essence of capitalism.Through the years we have expressed the highest degree of maturity on handling extreme situations; the more divergent opinions we hear, the larger our heart grows, the bigger our embrace would be and we can cushion more differences.
Let’s continue to honor the concept that there is always another side to the story, as finding the truth is our own responsibility.I am proud of my heritage and am proud to be an Indian-American. Please join me in the discovery of India on a daily basis, as time permits and share the wealth of knowledge you have on this forum. http://mikeghouseforindia.blogspot.com/
To have the power to effect a positive change in a given society one must be just. It is not justice when one gains at the wrongful expense of the others. Many a Muslims have lost the gut in their voice because they have failed to stand up for others.
Sharia in its simplest form is a "HOW-TO MANUAL" based on Quraan and the Hadith (Prophet Muhammad's sayings). It it is a human effort to understand the concept of Justice enshrined in Qur'aan for living a day to day life.
The private domain of the manual is about the relationship between an individual and the creator, whereas the public domain of the Sharia law is about the relationship between the individual and the society.
The contentious issues stem from treatment of; divorce, women's rights, inheritance, theft, adultery and apostasy. Our focus is in understanding and bringing forth various opinions and thoughts to get a grasp of the system.
The core value of Islam is Justice. The violations of justice and the rule of law are found in every faith, culture and political traditions at varying degrees. No community can cast the first stone.
Sharia industry has been built with strong fortifications to the point that many a Muslims are caused into believing that Sharia is divine. Justice is one of the core values of Islam and Sharia should be looked from that lens and not vice-versa.
It is like the defense industy, tax preparers industry or the Holocaust industry - where they make it so complicated that they are needed. It is their business protection plan.
Islam is a simple religion for one to follow and be accountable for his or her actions. We don't need an industry and Islam does not have clergy built into it.
We can retain the private Sharia and let go of the public sharia, the civil laws of the nation provide ample justice and we don't need a duplicate system. It is not divine to begin with to hang on to it.
There are several other blogs based on the topics
(214) 325-1916 text/talk
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.