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Saturday, December 10, 2016

Thanksgiving Celebrations & XVIII Annual Awards Night

XVIII Annual Thanksgiving Celebrations & Awards Night
Sunday, November 20, 2016 5:00 – 8:00 PM
Program outline
MC: Rabia Ali Baig
  1. Seating & Socializing
  2. Pledge of Allegiance – Dr. Har Swarup Singh
  3. National Anthem
  4. Diya lighting – Swati Choksi
  5. Greetings & Welcome – Mike
  6. Symbolic Turkey Carving –
  7. Expressions of Gratitude –Mike
  8. Experiencing other Religions – Volunteer
  9. Dinner (Vegetarian food available) – Every one
  10. Acknowledging Interfaith & Interracial couples
  11. Awards & Recognitions (list on page 5)
  12. Center for Pluralism – Mike
  13. Peace Pledge – Rabbi Chuck Fienberg
  14. Post event interviews
Pledge of Allegiance
Dr. Har Swarup Singh to lead the pledge
National Anthem
Rabia Ali Baig – to sing the National Anthem
Diya lighting
Although it is a Hindu tradition, this has universal appeal in it. Lighting the Diya or candle signifies end of darkness. Martin Luther King had said, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”  So help us cheer after the lighting.

Mike and Swati Choksi to start the program with symbolic lighting of the candle.   
Greetings & Welcome
Since I am new to the DMV area, I have not had the chance to reach out to every American.
In the last twenty years, in our (Center for Pluralism) events, we take pride on inviting Americans from different traditions such as Atheism, Baha’i, Buddhism, Christendom, Hinduism, Islam, Jainism, Judaism, Native Americans, Paganism, Scientology, Sikhism, Wiccan and Zoroastrianism and every one in between including the LGBTQ community.
Let’s assume we have every representation of America here.
When you go to a neighborhood which is all white, Black or Brown, you may feel apprehensive walking down the street…. Sometimes you may even want to run, but imagine or you may have experienced having a sense of safety, if someone say Hi to you.
When God created humans, he had projected what each year would be like, and he had the full report on 2016. So he called his advisory angels, and showed them a film called 2016 – it is what you see here, people worried, concerned, feeling insecure…  not knowing what will happen to the Muslims, Jews, Blacks, Hispanic, women and…..others.
Then God asks them to find solutions. He said, I don’t want any one of my creation to be afraid of the each other…    how do we break the ice? How do we free each other from tensions?
They came up with a formula
  1. Acknowledging the strangers – remember that Hi how it brought relief?
  2. Tell them you wish them peace and blessings
  3. Let them know you could be friends
Then God put them in all his religions and no-religions, after all we are all his creation.
Dharmic Greetings
Abrahimic Greetings
– American Indians – Aho Piva
–  Atheist secular – Hi!
–  Bahai
–  Buddhist
–  Christian
–  Hindu
–  Jain
–  Jewish
–  Muslim
–  Sikh
–  Wicca
–  Zoroastrian
Center for Pluralism is all about inclusion – God created each one of us, so we are one nation, one people – Hindu scriptures talk about Vasudhaiva Kutumbukum and Abrahamic scriptures talk about we are one big family originated from Adam and Eve.
Symbolic Turkey Carving
Cynthia Roseberry

Expressions of Gratitude
The gratitude narration – Appaiah story by Mike
Experiencing other Religions- Voluntary
Rabia and Mike will invite 24 individuals to the open space for experiencing other religions or traditions such as Atheism, Bahá’í, Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, Islam, Jain, Jewish, Scientology, Sikh, Zoroastrian.
Mike to tell Dallas Story-
Experiencing other religions: 24 individuals will be called on the floor to be in the team of 2, that is 10 teams.  Each team will be given a random verse from different faith, and we ask them to read and explain to the public. It was one of the most successful events we have had in the last several years. People love this and understand that all religions are beautiful in bringing peace and tranquility to its followers.
Humans are an integral part of nature, the result of unguided evolutionary change. (-Humanist Manifesto)
Life’s fulfillment emerges from individual participation in the service of humane ideals. (-Humanist Manifesto)
“Imagine all the people living life in peace. You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one. I hope someday you’ll join us, and the world will be as one.” – John Lennon
  1. BAHAI

  1. BUDDHISM“Radiate boundless love towards the entire world — above, below, and across — unhindered, without ill will, without enmity.” – The Buddha

  1. CHRISTIANITY”Do we not all have one father? Has not one God created us? Why do we deal treacherously each against his brother so as to profane the covenant of our fathers?”  Malachi 2:10

  1. HINDUISMThe one who loves all intensely begins perceiving in all living beings a part of himself.
    He becomes a lover of all, a part and parcel of the Universal Joy. He flows with the stream of happiness, and is enriched by each soul.
    (Yajur Veda)

  1. ISLAM“O, Mankind! We have created you from a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes that you may know one another.  Verily, the most honorable of you with Allah is the one who has piety.” (49:13)

  1. JAINThe most sacred mantras
Namo Arihantanam
Namo Siddhanam
Namo Ayiryananm
Namo Uvajjaysnam
Namo  Savva Sahuman
I bow to five most revered entities..  arihantas,siddhas,acharyas


Summary of ENTIRE  jain way….RIGHT faith,knowledge and conduct are way to Salvation.  “Tatvarth Sutra

Love your neighbor as yourself: I am Adonai.” (Leviticus 19:17–18)  “When a stranger resides with you in your land, you shall not wrong him. The stranger who resides with you shall be to you as one of your citizens; you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt:    I Adonai am your God.” (Leviticus 19:33–34)

  1. SCIENTOLOGY”The hardest task one can have is to continue to love his fellows despite all reasons he should not. And the true sign of sanity and greatness is to so continue….” L. Ron Hubbard

  1. SIKHISMNanak Says: May I Be Blessed With Vision To Realize Your Blessings And Your Order. And Thus Be a Thankful Offering to You. That Your NAME, O Timeless Infinite Being, May Rise For Ever, And In Thy Will, May There Be Well-Being Of All Humankind.



Dinner (Vegetarian food available)  
30 Minutes into the dinner… after all of them have seated and had some meal….
Acknowledging Interfaith & Interracial couples
Mike will acknowledge the couples
Despite their religious, racial or cultural differences, they are setting the new standards of civility by showing the world how to live in harmony. We have to cherish and honor the couples who embrace genuine humanity by accepting each other’s uniquenesses.
When people are showing extreme intolerance towards each other, the interfaith and interracial couples are showing the way to live in harmony and are contributing to the idea of one nation. They are indeed exemplary patriotic Americans.
You are who you are and I am who I am, and let’s acknowledge that and live in peace. As long as we don’t mess with each other’s space, sustenance and nurturance, and respect each other’s uniqueness, we all will do well.  If we can learn to respect the otherness of other and accept the God-given uniqueness of each one of the seven billion of us, then conflicts fade and solutions emerge.
As a society, the least we can do is acknowledge them for their contributions towards the idea of one nation that is America.
God bless them!
Awards & Recognitions (list on page 5)
Mike – It is our duty to “honor and cherish individuals “who have
dedicated their lives to building bridges among Americans. Their pioneering spirit in facilitating communities to know and to
respect each other is appreciated by fellow Americans.
Rabia – On this day, we appreciate and celebrate their contributions
towards building a cohesive America, where no one has to live in apprehension, discomfort or fear of the other.
This year we are appreciating five individuals who have made a difference in our communities. They have spread their wings beyond their own nest and have reached out to many others.  Over the years we have admired 50 such individuals who are listed on the website.

Robert J. Marro
Adams Center, for building relationships with the civic and faith based organizations in the DMV area.
Presented by:  John Foust
Rabia to read the Bio

Mike’s Comment
: Bob has become a spokesperson for the Muslim community and has built great relations with the county and state officials along with the interfaith community. I laud his open mindedness.
Cristina Frey
New Americans Expo, for bringing diverse ethnic communities of DMV area together.
Presented by: David Frey
Rabia to read the Bio
Mike’s Comment: I watched Cristina in the expo she held in October, she virtually had invited every race, faith and tradition to be part of the event, that is the kind of thing we need to be doing, and I encourage her to keep it up.
Charles Stevens
Geotrees for being an integral part of diverse communities in the DMV area
Presented by: Dr. Aquilur Rahman
Rabia to read the Bio
Mike’s Comment: There is not a week gone without receiving at least two or three pieces of information about certain happenings somewhere with Christians, Jews, Hindus, Muslims or others.  Why should one do that?  It’s nothing but passion to serve fellow beings.
Andrea Barron
for promoting Jewish-Muslim understanding in the Washington, DC area
Presented by: Judith Lelchook
Rabia to read the Bio

Mike’s Comment
Andrea’s enthusiasm is infectious; she really believes in the Jewish responsibility of fixing the world and has gone out of the way to build bridges.  I am sure each one of you knows that, when you do things like that, there will be always criticism from a few from her tribe, and suspect from the other. She bulldozes all that and does what needs to be done – building cohesive societies.

Rev. Sue Taylor,
Church of Scientology, National Affairs Office for reaching out and standing with persecuted communities around the world.
Presented by: Beth Akiyama
Rabia to read the Bio
Mike’s Comment: People are so wrapped up in defending their own, that they cannot see beyond, and I have been watching Rev. Sue Taylor with admiration for defending the rights of others, regardless of who they are. If you don’t stand up for others, why should anyone stand up for you?
Center for PluralismWhat is the Center for Pluralism?
Peace Pledge – Rabbi Chuck FienbergPlease rise and join the pledge with Rabbi Chuck Fienbert
Dr. Mike Ghouse is Founder and President of Center for Pluralism.    He is committed to building cohesive societies and offers pluralistic solutions on issues of the day. All about the center at www.CenterforPluralism.com and about him in 65 links at www.MikeGhouse.net

Friday, December 9, 2016

Changing the mood of America

At this point in history, we are going through difficult times.  Whether you are on the right, left or the center, you are concerned about the liberties and freedoms of all Americans.  The divisiveness, even though temporary, has caused us to lose trust in each other to function effectively as a nation.

So what can we do?

Our President John Kennedy had famously urged us, “Ask not what the country can do - ask what you can do for your country.” and Professor William James had written that our actions can change the moods.

Here is what we can to do to restore America where no Americans feels left out, but feels included in nation building.

Let’s close 2016 on a positive note, let’s come together as Americans, and celebrate our collective Festivals of Hanukkah, Christmas, Milad, Kwanza, Janamashtami, Gurpurab and the festivities of Native Americans, and other traditions including Atheist/Humanist. Each group will get to sing honoring their faith tradition.

When we are together, it is uplifting!
We can change our moods! 

The following video has clips from Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanza, Milad, Janamashtami and other great celebrations.  On the actual day of Festival of Faiths, Americans Together will celebrate their traditions.  

  1. Video   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mjhbRkN7soQ 
  2. Details   http://centerforpluralism.com/festival-of-faiths/
  3. Attend  RSVP – Eventbrite
  4.  Sing?   If your group likes to sing Register@Centerforpluralism.com    
  5. List?     Please send an email to   Register@Centerforpluralism.com   
  6. Op-Ed  Ask not what the President can do for us?” will be released soon
  7. More     http://Centerforpluralism.com/Workshops
  8. Browse Tabs at  www.Centerforpluralism.com
  9.  Event   Celebrating America –Festival of Faiths on Sunday, 12/18 – 12 to 2 PM
  10. Where   Jefferson Memorial, Washington, DC 


Dr. Mike Ghouse is founder and president of Center for Pluralism aka Americans Together. He is committed to building cohesive societies and offers pluralistic solutions on issues of the day. All about him in 65 links at www.MikeGhouse.net