I was the only brown child born in a suburban Philadelphia hospital in the 70’s. When my mother went to visit me in the maternity ward, a visiting grandfather quizzically looked at me, then her, and said, “I was wondering who that baby’s mother was.” His reaction isn’t surprising because my family was in the local newspaper for being the first family of Indian descent in the area.
From my first days on this planet and for many years after, I stood out in Pennsylvania, whether I wanted to or not. I did actually like being the only Sameena I knew for years. I didn’t like it so much when people would try to call me Samantha just because it was easier for them. I was bemused when I went I went to Penn State in State College when people would stare at me because they couldn’t figure out what I was. I imagine thoughts like these: She’s got brown skin with a pointy nose and straight hair. That just doesn’t add up! Even someone who was black assumed I was black mixed with something. My world at that time was pretty much black and white, with little shades of gray, or in my case mocha.
It was during that time, at the age of 20 that I decided that I didn’t want to live in Pennsylvania for the rest of my life. Don’t get me wrong. I love Philadelphia and my last PA town, West Chester. I just decided it was too cold and monocultural for me. Despite that, 20 years later, I was still there. I think of the Talking Heads song, “Once in a Lifetime” when I reflect on my life sometimes. “Well, how did I get here?” You said it, David Byrne. It wasn’t just how did I get to where I was, but when I knew it wasn’t where I wanted to be why was I still there? The simple answer was just fear. Fear of the unknown.
Prior to this realization, I had already quit a stable teaching job to pursue a full-time writing career. At that moment, my belief in my own capabilities became stronger than my fear of the unknown. It was my belief in myself that inspired me to move. To the Bible Belt in Georgia.
“Well, how did I get here?” First of all, I’m in a city right next to Atlanta. Secondly, it’s diverse. It’s a southern town with more diversity than Philadelphia. Now, I am a proud Yankee, and I will admit that I used to possess the northern preconceived notions of the South. I am in a southern city, and I am surrounded by more cultural diversity than I have ever been around in my entire life. Yet again, I have learned the lesson that you can’t judge.
At this moment, I am beyond complete with my decision to end my Pennsylvania chapter and begin my Georgia one. Albeit, I am a blazing liberal in a blazing conservative state. That’s okay. Politics is a joke in this country right now anyway. I am just enjoying the glow of making a decision and running with it.
I have only been here two months, so I can’t say how long this chapter will last. I am just loving a winter without snow.
Until next time...look behind and beyond the veil…
The United States is anything but united at the moment. It is divided and uncertain, even “crooked.” In the wake of the election and the recent electoral college vote, some are looking for some sort of straightening. People need some sort of certainty that the progress of the last eight years will not be undone. Inspired by the legacy of civil disobedience winning the day, women from all over the country will convene in Washington D.C. to protest President-Elect Donald Trump and stand united to protect the rights of women and marginalize groups. I understand the motivation and the desire to take action, but I will not be joining this assembly.
Someone recently called me jaded. Maybe so, but at this point I am realistic. Donald Trump called Mexicans ‘rapists.’ He talked about banning Muslims and registering them. He only gained in popularity. He openly bragged about sexual assault. He got elected. Around 53% of white women voted for him dismissing his comments as just vulgar. Not only that, they found someone who had settled out of court for fraud to be more trustworthy than Hillary Clinton, who was cleared of wrongdoing time and time again by a Republican Congress. The President-Elect’s campaign was not won in spite of bigotry, xenophobia, and misogyny. It was won because of them.
Some may argue that Trump only won because of an antiquated Electoral College system where rural states with small populations have disproportionately larger electoral votes. There is some weight to that given that Hillary Clinton won the popular vote by close to 3 million votes. It doesn’t matter because the outcome is still the same. The pathological liar has access to the nuclear codes.
So, what good is me standing outside in the freezing D.C. cold going to do to help? Yes, collectively, we can say we don’t approve and we’re watching you. We’ve been saying that, and he still got elected. Will Donald Trump actually care enough to change any plan that he and the new “robber baron” Cabinet have? Of course not.
For that reason, I am going to continue to share my voice and dissent in one way. My best form of dissent is to continue to live my life as freely as possible. I am not going to bite my nails and fret over what Trump and the rest of his billionaires will try to do. I will be watching, and if a time comes where I need to take action, I will. Until then, my mantra starting January 20, 2017 will be, “Just call me Gloria Gaynor because ‘I Will Survive.” As will the rest of us.
As I am still trying to make sense of this incongruous election cycle, I wonder how liberals FUBARed this thing so badly. As little as two years ago, if you told any of us that a presidential candidate would espouse blatantly racist and sexist sentiment coupled with criminality and a lack of knowledge on important issues, we would have said that candidate wouldn’t make it passed the primaries. We all need to stand because Donald Trump’s election corrected all of our assumptions. However, a real surprise amidst a sea of surprises is the number of women who voted for Trump.
53% of all female white voters voted Trump. Hillary Clinton’s campaign counted on the woman vote, especially after Trump was caught on tape bragging about committing sexual assault and cheating on his wife. One would logically think this behavior would submarine his chances with women. It unequivocally did not. Many of the women who voted for him just dismissed his comments as vulgar, nothing more. These comments were simply relegated to the “boys will be boys” category. The lack of outrage and just looking the other way is just another indicator of how pervasive patriarchy still is in this country.
Grabbing someone in the genital area without their permission is sexual assault, plain and simple. Not only did Trump admit that, he gloated about being able to get away with it. This is beyond locker room talk. If men do talk about their sexual exploits, they are about consensual acts. The fact that this percentage of women could just dismiss Trump bragging about a nonconsensual act is part of the rape culture that this society is conditioned into.
As children, when a boy has hit a girl, how many times have we heard, “He just likes you. That’s all that means.” At that age, we’re already getting the message that violence and affection are connected, and we should just dismiss those acts.
How many of us have excused men who make us uncomfortable because we’re afraid of backlash? How many of us are told either verbally or nonverbally, “You were asking for it” if we are assaulted or grabbed? When defending accused rapists, attorneys immediately go to past sexual history to slut-shame an accuser. How many societies stigmatize a woman who is raped and place shame on her?
When women are educated about rape prevention, they are told: don’t put yourself in a situation. That makes total sense, but how often are men told not to rape? We constantly get inundated with messages that blame the woman for sexual harassment or assault and take accountability away from the man.
Patriarchy is how this group of women could excuse misogyny and admission of sexual assault. It is also how women could hold Clinton accountable for “lying” about Benghazi when a Republican committee cleared her of any criminal behavior. Several email probes involving a private server cleared her of any wrongdoing, but she is still considered untrustworthy. Trump, who is about to go on trial for fraud and has been accused of not paying contractors, is still trusted among these women. The list goes on. It’s not just this election. Our whole lives are filled with justifications of inequality. That is how the majority of white women could still vote for Trump.
In no way am I saying that’s the only reason that many women voted the way they did. The Left bears responsibility for alienating the entire working class, men and women. A cycle of judgment occurs on both sides. Hillary Clinton called Trump supporters “a basket of deplorables.” Although some of the Trump supporters’ acts are deplorable. That’s not the way to win voters and influence people. This comment is just a small example of what the working class has dealt with from the Left over the years. Allegations of voter suppression within your own party don’t help either.
What I am saying is patriarchy is among a list of contributing factors as to why women voted the way they did. It underlies how women are constantly taught to accept demeaning sexually aggressive behavior from men. It explains in part how women could accept misogyny and predatory sexual acts from a man who wants to lead them.
Until next time… look behind and beyond the veil...
July 8, 2016
Muslims around the world observed Ramadan and ended it with Eid-ul-Fitr celebrations. I always reflect on the personal growth I experience spiritually and personally. Through my observance of fasting, meditation, and prayer, I reach my spiritual goals. As I have participated in this traditional ritual and eschewed others, I can truly say it has become more of a spiritual practice than a physical one. Of course, it does take a toll on my body. Despite that, the physical deprivation is worth it because of the better human being I become.
This time, it took an emotional toll, as well. I am so disheartened by the acts of terror that took place around the world towards the end of the holy month. These terrorists have shown that nothing is sacred to them, and that the religion they supposedly uphold is nothing but a smokescreen for their agendas.
Within the past two weeks, terrorist attacks have occurred in Turkey, Iraq, Bangladesh, and Saudi Arabia. What agenda is ISIS furthering by destroying other Muslims during the sacred month? Even during a true Jihad- which is not what ISIS is doing by any interpretation- soldiers are not to kill innocents. All these terrorists do is kill innocents. Furthermore, what warped, perverse ideology espouses bombing the holy city of Medina near the Prophet’s Tomb? Many outside the religion would have had enough respect to not touch such a sacred space. With this act, they have gone thousands of steps too far, and may have undone themselves in the process.
I am allowing myself to be cautiously optimistic at this juncture. I am hoping that the Muslim World actually comes together to speak out, and that those funding the terrorists recognize them as the wild dogs they are who will eventually turn on them, too. We are watching it unfold. I am cautious because as I’ve stated in this blog before, as a community we are still fractious. I remember years when one state was celebrating Eid-ul-Fitr on a different date than another state because the religious clerics wanted to be technical. When I was growing up, I don’t remember disagreement about what day Eid-ul-Fitr was. It’s only within the last ten years I’ve seen it. I don’t know when or how consensus was lost. At this point, it doesn’t matter because as a community we have a daunting problem, and we can only solve it together. We have no other recourse.
The Muslim World is now at a crossroads. We have to come together and choose real leaders who have critical thought and are about the sustaining of our religion instead of the momentary power they can inflict on those they deem in an inferior position. Instead of hyper-focusing on the picayune details of scripture to impose arbitrary definitions of “muslimness”, our leaders and clerics need to focus on this cancer that grows and threatens all of us.
Until next time… look behind and beyond the veil...
June 12, 2016
As the Muslim World embarks on Ramadan, I take this time to pause and reflect. For me, Ramadan is not only about not drinking or eating during daylight hours. I believe it is a time to learn and grow, personally and as a community. If we are not willing to look at ourselves from within, self-destruction is inevitable.
I often equate the Muslim World as it is currently to the Dark Ages in Europe. Reactionary, literal, and conservative. We allow religious scholars in our community to scare us into conformity with the looming threat of hell. Let’s take a look at many of the religious scholars of the day. They’re patriarchal and dominating of women, making arbitrary rules as they go. For example, in my mother’s time, no one said anything about a woman wearing nail polish. Someone actually sat down and decided that religiously this should not be done. Based on what? Nail polish didn’t even exist when Islam was founded. Some man chose to fixate on some picayune detail and decreed that women should not be allowed to wear nail polish. In a world where human beings willfully enact oppression and destruction on other human beings, our divine, omnipotent creator is actually taking the time to concern himself with a woman wearing nail polish. Not only will he frown upon her doing that, he will not accept her prayer when she offers it because this bit of varnish makes her impure in some way. Or so some would have us believe. Another more serious example is the decree that a woman has to produce four witnesses to prove rape. That’s for adultery. Shaming a woman after a trauma is inflicted upon her is not Islam. It’s men protecting other men.
Ironically, the Muslim World experienced its enlightenment when the Western World experienced its Dark Ages. During the Golden Age of Islam, the caliph would have his astrology chart done. Now, you can barely jest about your horoscope. Our Prophet Muhammad’s wife, Aisha was a renowned scholar and warrior. He made no distinction between the education of men and women. He enjoined all his followers to seek knowledge. Now in certain parts of the world, education for girls is commodity. How can any community progress if half of its members are stifled and kept ignorant?
This gender inequality is not surprising because our community has never really been unified. As soon as the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) died, the schism between Sunnis and Shiites occurred. We couldn’t even agree on who our next leader would be or how that leader was chosen. Today in parts of the Middle East, these groups kill each other. Religious groups that have surfaced are persecuted where they are found. When schisms occurred in the Catholic Church, violence ensued. However, as people gained knowledge the violence became less prevalent. I have never heard of the various Jewish sects killing each other in modern times. Because of the unity or peaceful coexistence of most of the Judeo-Christian world, these communities have flourished.
However, the Muslim World is in a precarious state. Republican nominee Donald Trump has called for a ban on Muslims entering the country. Did he alienate himself with that statement? No, he went up in the polls. This shows that a lot of fear and ignorance exists in regard to Muslims, a fear that we can help dispel by being active in our communities. So many times, I see and hear people express disdain for American people and the values of American culture. The sooner we see ourselves as part of American culture and recognize the value in it, the quicker we can allay the fears of the rest of the world. When we become a part of this culture and teach through our example, we can show the value in our culture.
That being said before we can start that process, we have to be able to live amongst ourselves. The conservatives and the moderates have to stop judging each other and being leery in each other’s presence. No one has the right to judge anyone’s Muslimness. Yet, we do it to each other all the time. Conservative vs. progressive. Hijabi vs. Non-hijabi. Convert vs. Muslim-born. (I refuse to say “revert” because that term further separates us from the rest of the world just by the inherent superiority in it). If we don’t accept each other for whatever level of the spectrum we are on, we will continue to be a community divided.
One of the best examples among us regarding evolution of beliefs is the recently crossed, Muhammad Ali. He started as a follower of Elijah Muhammad and the Nation of Islam. As he studied with different leaders, he became a Sunni. Throughout his life, he was a practicing Muslim. He raised his children, and some of them practice and some don’t. Regardless, he continued on his own path that eventually became more spiritual. Along the way, he managed to become one of the most beloved figures throughout the world.
As a community, we must be introspective. We must let go of our rigidity. We must recognize that Islam has diverse faces, and they should be embraced, not resisted. Muhammad Ali said, “A man who views the world at 50 the same way he did at 20 has wasted 30 years of his life.” If we don’t evolve as a community, we will have a hand in our own obliteration.
Until next time… look behind and beyond the veil...
May 10, 2016
The media can be a double-edged sword. It can be a valuable source of information and medium for change. During the Civil Rights Movement, changes occurred when the nation saw the violence committed against African-Americans who had the audacity to claim their rights as human beings. When the media illuminates, that is when it is at its best. On the other hand, the media can be a vehicle for sensationalism and a magnifying glass for the faults of society but merely for the purpose of spectacle.
Recently, the media has taken a natural occurrence like death and turned it into a sideshow. Prince’s death has been surrounded by speculation and scrutiny. People who performed with him once are coming forward and making commentary on who they thought he was. Maybe it does come from a good place, and they want to express what impact he had on them. I don’t see the point, really. If you’re not friends, why say anything? Are people that insipid that they just want to hear what one celebrity has to say about another who’s crossed over? They just might be.
In life, he didn’t want to be the center of discussion, unless it was his music. Now, speculation continues to linger on as to the manner of his death. The media has been throwing conjecture after conjecture which is inappropriate. The toxicology report won’t be available for another few weeks. Everything they are saying is inappropriate until officials involved in the case make a statement. Personally, I don’t care how he died. He’s gone. Let him rest in peace. It doesn’t affect the public unless it was some sort of pandemic he caught somewhere, and the public needs to be safe. Other than that, the media outlets need to stop the innuendo of a “source” claiming this and that. It’s ridiculous.
In the past few days, people have come forward claiming Prince was their father. If it’s the truth, then these people are entitled to whatever fortune he had. What does any of this have to do with the public? Tabloid journalists site “a matter of public interest” when news involves a celebrity. How does a possible “love child” affect the public in any way? It doesn’t. It’s nobody’s business.
I didn’t know Prince, but I know how private he was. One of his true friends said, “He would hate this.” I imagine he would hate all the speculation, the endless Youtube videos that keep coming up with his likeness, and the random people he worked with once or twice commenting on who they thought he was.
Yet again, an irresponsible media is sensationalizing a natural process. In Prince’s case, he did what he was meant to do, and he has moved on. If you want to honor him, remember his music, what he wanted to be remembered for. Appreciate a free being who spoke the truth. A free being who encouraged others, this blogger included to be who they are, just by his example. Janelle Monae, a close collaborator with Prince performed an entire set in his honor recently and reminisced on stage about who he was and what he meant to her. That’s how you honor someone. You honor what they would want to be remembered for.
However, many of the media outlets don’t care about honoring Prince. They just want readers to have a bizarre story to read and boost their readership. This is someone’s life and legacy we are dealing with. That legacy should not be tarnished and molded by how he left this world or what he left behind in it. He once said, “Despite everything, no one can dictate who you are to other people.” Now that he’s gone and can’t defend himself anymore, the media should not create a version of who they think he was. Let his music and his impact represent his true self.
Until next time… look behind and beyond the veil…
April 25, 2016
Goodnight, Sweet Prince
In 1981, I was part of the first generation of MTV kids who would rush home and watch new videos. One day in 1983, I saw a video that was in direct opposition to the rock music I was listening to. I remember watching this beautiful black man with long hair, eyeliner, and purple trench coat. My sister described the music as “new wave” because that was the term of the time. That video inducted a “new wave” into my life. One that was more open to things that were different than what I was used to. At the time, I had no way of knowing the impact this video and this man would have on my life, forever altering and forever shaping it in ways I can’t even fathom.
That man, as the title of this blog indicates was Prince, the enchanting unicorn who deliberately defied labels and boundaries. Prince unwittingly became the composer of the soundtrack of my life. He unwittingly became the object of my affection (when I was thirteen I swore I would marry him), and my light in the darkness of trauma.
Over the years, everyone in my circle knew of my admiration and voracious consumption of anything Prince. Cousins from overseas would send pictures of him to me in the mail. I would buy any magazine that had his picture. These pictures were amalgamated together and mounted on the wall that infamously became known as the “Prince Wall.” When I went to college, I gingerly took every picture off the wall and meticulously placed them on a slab of cardboard and took the “Prince Wall” with me. I refused to leave him behind. In my college dorm, I made sure the first face I saw when I woke was Prince’s, as two posters adorned the wall right in front of me, leaving no room for any others. It was all about Prince.
Prince is the only artist I have seen four times in my life, and every time was different and a life experience. I was fifteen when I first saw him for the “Glam Slam” tour. I was in the second level of the now defunct Spectrum when I yelled out, “I love you!” With mic in hand he responded, “I love you, too, hun.” That was the closest in physical proximity I ever got to him.
In my times of melancholy, his music has pierced threw the armor I created to make it through and allowed me to feel what I needed to feel. I lost a beloved aunt in 2010, and I already had tickets to his concert in Madison Square Garden. My mother forced me to go, and I’m glad I did. For over two hours, I forgot my pain. I have created memories with members of my family who have gone to his shows with me. One of my brothers went to see Prince with me twice. My best friend came with me to a show one year just because she wanted to experience this part of my life with me. He played “The Beautiful Ones.” I got so excited and squeezed her arm so tightly, that I heard a muted, “Ow.” It is still a wonderful memory. Well, maybe not for her.
His lyrics and virtuosity as a musician have inspired me in my life. Too many of his songs have been imprinted on my consciousness to list here. His spirituality and ownership of his own life inspires me to this day. After his passing, I realized that he always lived his life exactly as he was, no matter if others understood or appreciated it. Only recently, have I learned to live this way.
For the rest of my life, I will be grateful to this man for his presence in the world, even if I never got the opportunity to meet him. He did what he was meant to do and shared his profound genius. Now that he has returned to his True Home and the True Home of us all, I can only say, “Good night, sweet Prince.” May you greet me at the dawn.
Until next time… look behind and beyond the veil…
April 18, 2016
Most of us who are first generation immigrants grow up surrounded by different languages. Most people from other countries speak more than one language. For me, any sort of access to knowledge is necessary and ongoing. Personally, I love being an amalgamation of cultures and identities. I love that I have familiarity with and can speak multiple languages. My adventures in multilingualism have ranged from the fearful to the comical to the sublime.
Being a fearful little girl, I used to get nervous speaking Punjabi. We were literally the only family in my neighborhood who spoke the language. I had my own brand of it that my family members could understand, but it was suspect if anyone else could. I made blatant errors that no one would correct because they didn’t want to discourage me. They probably figured I wouldn’t run into anybody else I had to speak with anyway, so it didn’t matter. What was really interesting was that I would be filled with anxiety when my father or my two uncles who lived near us would speak in Punjabi to me. I was afraid I wouldn’t understand them, or they wouldn’t understand me. My mother and my aunt were the only two people that I completely understood when they spoke to me in Punjabi and who I felt completely comfortable with when I spoke it. No butterflies flitted around in my stomach when I spoke Punjabi with them. I mentioned that to a professor I was working with once, and he actually said I could be a case study in anxiety in language acquisition or something of that sort. True story.
Now, I don’t have the anxiety because I just pick the language that will convey my meaning best. I have fun with my mistakes, too. I actually grew up in a household that snuck in vocabulary from a language that in no way resembles, Urdu, Hindi, or Punjabi: Swahili. So unknown to me, I used words from Swahili while speaking in Punjabi. I was following my family’s lead, but no one bothered to distinguish which words were Swahili and which were Punjabi. For this, I am grateful because it led me to one of my more comical foibles in my life. One time I was speaking with my Pakistani sister-in-law about a family of rabbits that had claimed squatter’s rights in her front yard. I referred to the rabbits as “sangora.” She had no idea what I was talking about. Then, I said, “You know, rabbit.” My cousin looked at me and said, “Sangora is Swahili.” No wonder, she didn’t know what I was talking about. Oh, well. I am happy that I literally know five words in Swahili.
On the flip side, there are those in this country who feel one language is enough, especially if that language is English. Most people in this country only speak English. Most of the rest of the world speak at least two languages. I have run into people who wear their monolingualism like a badge of honor and take a self-righteous approach to it. I remember a grocery store clerk who said, “There’s no need to learn another language because most of the world speaks English.” I just stayed quiet. I was just trying to get groceries, not trying to subdue the stereotypical American arrogance. If I was, I would have told him that actually most of the world speaks Mandarin. The second most spoken language is Spanish. English is actually third. My fellow Americans, let me take this moment to say that it is not just our culture and language that is the be all and end all for the world. Many other cultures and languages thrive and are as valid ours.
For this reason, I am so grateful for my exposure to and familiarity with other languages. Learning Urdu poetry has been a delight because I get to dissect a language I am still learning. The nuances and uses of different words are so fulfilling to learn. Before I’m done, I intend to speak fluently in Urdu and Spanish. I plan to be fully literate in both languages at some point, as well. I’m not sure when or how I will do it but it is an adventure I look forward to. That is exactly how I see my exposure to and lifelong learning of other languages.
Until next time… look behind and beyond the veil…
April 5, 2016
From the time I was a little girl, I loved to read. I would read every book I could get my hands on and just want more. Even now, I make sure I make time to read every day. I remember going through my brother’s records. He seemed to have everything, mostly rock, which is a big part of why I listen to rock music to this day. Back then, I would write but get so immersed in perfection, that it wasn’t fun. Only recently have I gotten out of that habit. Now, I just write because it feeds my soul. No other way to say it. As a matter of fact, creativity in general feeds my soul. Whether it be art, music, or of course, literature, I find myself transported into the minds and emotions of those who create.
Admittedly, I know very little about art. Some people like Andy Warhol who are considered brilliant innovators, do very little for me. Sometimes, I’m not sure why it’s even art because I don’t see craft or skill in certain works. Campbell’s soup cans? That’s really art? However, when I do connect with a piece, I get a feeling in my heart that I can’t even describe. I imagine it’s part exhilaration and part admiration that another human being could create what I am seeing before me. I had this exact feeling when I saw Picasso’s “Three Musicians” painting in person for the first time. First of all, I didn’t realize just how big it is. It’s a small mural. I was so overcome that I had to sit and stare at it for a few minutes. I don’t think I’ve had that feeling since. Picasso fascinates me because he could create art across mediums. He sculpted and did ceramics. To this day, I marvel at his genius and continue to be awed by it.
Music overall, is another creative medium that pulls me in and retains me. I love different genres. I am a Prince fan until I die and for a few days after that. Led Zeppelin is my favorite band of all time. Frequently, I watch interviews with Robert Plant, the lead singer of Led Zeppelin, and he talks about his various projects that are separate from his former band. I understand he’s moved on in his life and musically, but the impact that music has had on my life is astronomical. Sometimes, I think the surviving members of Led Zeppelin take for granted how much impact their music has had around the world. Many of the songs are amazing just by the musicianship. But more than that, these songs play like a soundtrack to my life. “Over the Hills and Far Away” evokes memories of the only family trip we ever took. “Down by the Seaside” conjures memories of that same trip and my late brother. Countless songs inspire memories of him. “The Rain Song” and “Thank You” are two of the most timeless love ballads of all time. So many other genres of music and so many other songs inspire different emotions at different times. It’s all a confirmation and celebration of life.
Similarly, literature has resonated with me my entire life. I remember my oldest sister discussing books with siblings who were studying certain ones in school and being fascinated by different stories. She had an extensive library, and I remember at thirteen reading my first Shakespeare play, Much Ado about Nothing. Even at that age, I loved Beatrice and would laugh out loud at her taunts at Benedick. They were the anti-couple but the intelligence and strength of both characters have always stayed with me. This first reading instilled a love for Shakespeare which results in pilgrimages to Stratford-upon-Avon whenever I am in England. Authors like J.K. Rowling and J.R.R Tolkien are masters at crafting literary worlds. At one time, this reverence for the written word made me very selective about when I would write. I was constantly judging myself and inadvertently stifling my own creativity.
Now, I have learned to approach writing the same way I approach all creativity: with love. I have embarked on creating my own literary worlds. When I write, more and more, I just experience exhilaration and feed off of it. Creativity is the lifeblood in my veins. Creativity is the soul of life… Mine, at least.
Until next time… look behind and beyond the veil…
March 29, 2016
As a product of middle class suburbia, I adhered to what it meant to be American and the promise of the American dream. At one time, I clung to the “land of the free,” “home of the brave,” “leaders of the free world,” ideology. I would watch the news of places like India and see uneducated villagers blindly follow their politicians as if they were gods. Or, I would see brawls between members of Parliament in the Ukraine. Again, at the time, I saw American politics as somehow being above that kind of nonsense. Our politicians and our people overall are more educated, and those kinds of problems mainly occur in developing nations. In other words, I believed the arrogant hype that the Western world has peddled over the past century.
What I have been seeing lately in the political arena is the stuff B-movie political thriller or satire, in many cases is made of. The larger, more dismal question is: am I witnessing the disintegration of a republic?
Our elected officials only selectively uphold our Constitution and espouse such divisive, ignorant rhetoric that belies any education they may have. This nation’s conservatives have unleashed an unprecedented level of disrespect to President Obama, going so far as to block his Supreme Court nominee, which is his Constitutional right to do. He’s been called a liar in Congress and has been blamed for everything from ISIS to Donald Trump.
Now, Michelle Bachmann is blaming Obama for the terror attacks in Belgium. She even goes on to assert that his “…humiliation comes in a manner so devastating it makes one wonder whether the creator of humankind is reminding this world of the inferiority of foolishness in the face of wisdom.” Even God doesn’t approve of Obama. Really?
Last time I checked, separation of church and state existed. How many times has this woman and other right-wingers evoked God’s name and Jesus’s name in their rhetoric? Furthermore, Jesus taught about love and light. How does someone talk about Jesus and then spew hatred? Michelle Bachmann and others have shown their hypocrisy by doing just that.
Our 2016 Presidential Election is revealing the worst sides of the candidates and the American people. Both Republican frontrunners, Donald Trump and Ted Cruz are preying on the xenophobia and fear of the American people, emphasizing their anti-Islam, anti-immigrant agendas. Has anyone stopped and thought about how Ted Cruz is the son of Cuban immigrants? Then again, many Germans didn’t think about how Hitler was a quarter Jew. Speaking of lack of thought, has it occurred to no one that Trump isn’t saying much about what he will do in office, other than ban Muslims and build a wall?
This is the problem here. Apparently, many are not thinking for themselves. Instead, they are teeming with arbitrary reactions and finding ways to blame the President for the ills of a changing world. Assigning blame is an effective smokescreen to avoid allocating responsibility where it really belongs: decades of war-mongering and poorly thought-out policy.
Conservatives are so busy impeding President Obama’s agenda that they refuse to acknowledge how they are hindering the country. They have blocked legislation that would benefit Americans just to oppose the President. Sadly, many Americans are too busy letting their elected officials do the thinking for them. They are so blinded by the meaningless rhetoric they keep electing the same representatives who put their interests aside in favor of lobbyists and corporations.
The general public seem to be so easily misled by slanted media and self-serving politicians they miss real issues. They miss how we can take cues from other developed nations who have lower poverty rates, lower crime rates, real environmental protections, and other policies that actually benefit their people.
This is why I am disappointed in the events I see that could lead to the disintegration of this republic. For a young country, we have made great strides, but there are those who obstruct that progress for their own selfish agendas.
Think for yourselves, people. Leave the blame game behind and take responsibility for your own fates.
Until next time… look behind and beyond the veil…