Saturday, March 18, 2017, Washington, DC – A small group of people from the Pakistan American Association gathered up in Chevy Chase Community Library to discuss where we stand in this political climate and what can be done. I was invited to participate in the conversation along with 15 other community members.
A question was asked if there is one issue on their mind that needs addressing what would that be. Mine was to focus on coalition building, since one of the members had already said, I chose “Integration” and a variety of choices came up – outreach to neighbors, depression, Legal recourse and other good items. Others will write their notes, but let me focus on my take, and some my talking points did not make it.
Real quick, let’s talk about our present environment and then briefly the short and long term approaches to our future. I don’t need to elaborate on the situation we are in, it is apprehensive; it is just not us, but all of us in America are tense. We should not, and we cannot point fingers at any one, we have to do our work in good faith and goodness always triumphs. What is that each one of us wants? All of us want to have a caring family, good health, livable wages, a modest home to live and retire in peace and security. Those of us who have children and Grandchildren, we would like to see them feel secure about their future, jobs and their lives.
These pillars of life are shaken now! TrumpQuake is hitting all of us. I am not talking about a particular group, but all of us Americans.
We are at the bottom of the Maslow’s hierarchy – our prime driver is security now. All the money we have accumulated isn’t worth it if we continue to live in apprehension or can’t even sleep in the grave in peace. What the misguided ones did to Jewish Cemeteries was shameful, there was a case where a dead woman was pulled out of the grave and gang raped in India.
Now let’s focus on the problem… and then talk about short and long term solutions.
What is the source of conflict? Is it religion, race or ethnicity? I beg to submit that it is none of it, they are merely labels. The problem is “Security” – there is an assumption made that if your group is large in numbers you are secure and can defend yourselves, on the other hand if your faith, ethnicity or race is small in numbers or weak in defense, you are inferior. This is part of our survival gene of the DNA. This also applies to the same race as well as the same faith but between established and the new.
Let’s take a real quick tour of the world –Genocide in Darfur? It was the same race but the Arab ethnicity had the arrogance to believe they were superior? The Sunnis in Pakistan has the arrogance to believe that their version of Islam is superior to that of Ahmadi, Indian Muslims have the arrogance to believe that Indonesians are less Muslims than themselves… what do they know about Islam? Hindus have the arrogance to believe that they are a superior fait. You will see the same bloody arrogance in every people. No group is free from stains. Let’s come home to America.
Being a prosperous nation, the white majority never looked at the immigrants as their competition – they wanted and needed more people to build on the prosperity, they were secure. But when the economy went to tanks, things changed. The Americans born and raised here lost their good jobs at Microsoft to India, Philippines and elsewhere. Isn’t it natural to resent the causer, if the job has cost your home, car and your family?
It was not limited to the white collar workers; the problem hit factories and manufacturing sector severely affecting the suburban and rural America.
What did we do when the economy went to tank? What was the conversation about? Minorities, Immigration, Muslims were part of the conversation. We completely ignored the white folks; they were not a part of the conversation but equally affected like everyone else was. Their resentment is natural.
Example of my own town Yelahanka, a suburb of Bangalore and the folks from Madanpalli! Briefly, the “natives” who had lived in the town for generations lived their stagnant life. The new comers from Madanpalli worked hard and became rich in a short period of time. Fortunately no destructive action came out of that resentment. This example holds good in almost every town across America or any part of the world.
The problem is security which otherizes the other with a religious, cultural, racial or ethnic label.
Going forward – the short term solution;
clean up our own hearts and mouths with soap. Quit calling them deplorables, red necks, uneducated, rapists, murderers and other shameful epithets. We should be ashamed of treating someone who is down on life in such a derogatory manner. If we had gone through what they have, we would have acted the same. It’s human.
Reach out to them –be sincere and ask them that you want to see the world from their point of view… and be a damn good listener without interrupting. All humans instantly recognize fakeness so if you cannot be sincere, stay back otherwise you will screw up if you start telling about you instead of listening to them. Once they share their hearts they will ask you, and if they don’t, let it go. That is how you build connections and that is how you mitigate ill-will. If all of us do that, the good energy would take over.
Example of Grizzly Joe
Long term – go to the small town fairs to relate with fellow Americans who are not like you. It applies to each one of us. Familiarity breeds comfort and comfort leads to understanding, and understanding to acceptance.
People are not machines to give instant results. If you put a coin in the vending machine out comes your drink. In case of people it is not money, it is trust and to build trust it takes a long time after several rejections and disappointments. Remember the story of Prophet Muhammad? God tells him in Quran to do his duty to give out the message of unity, oneness of humanity and it is up to God to give them guidance, all the books of wisdom including Bhagvad Gita tells us – do your duty let the results come from the superior energy.
When you feel insecure, you blame someone else and also express the loss in terms of ‘our way of life’ is at stake, we are losing it out to ‘these’ new people.
We need to reassure each other, including disappointed White Americans that together as Americans, we are committed to safeguarding the American way of life for everyone. No American needs to worry about losing his or her way of life. As Americans we uphold, protect, defend and celebrate the values enshrined in our Constitution. This will ensure continuity of our lives.
First thing I would suggest is to fix our stinky attitudes towards fellow Americans.
It is the uncertainty, until the dust settles we cannot see anything clearly.
# # # Dr. Mike Ghouse is the Executive Director of the Center for Pluralism. He is a frequent guest on National TV including Fox News, syndicated Radio talk shows, and has published over 3000 articles on Pluralism, Interfaith, Islam, politics and foreign policy. He is a community consultant, social scientist, thinker, writer, news maker, interfaith wedding officiant, and a Public Speaker. He is dedicated his life to building a cohesive America and offers pluralistic solutions on issues of the day. All about him in 65 links at MikeGhouse.net and www.Centerforpluralism.com