Why is it that we, almost always, remember only that which agonized us?
This, a picture of a man falling – almost serenely – from one of the doomed twin towers in New York, was prohibited from media publication in the days that followed the attack on America on September 11, 2001. A man who presumably chose instant death, after a brief flight of open-air and breezy freedom, over demise by rapid immolation in the fires that raged near the top of the tower. Fires that prevented his escape from a certain unknown and unheralded end. He chose to be seen! He had no way of knowing that he would be seen, of course. Nor did he care that his picture was taken.
It was a beginning for a reaction from America that would involve two declared wars, hundreds of thousands of – mostly innocent – deaths, millions scarred forever, and trillions of taxpayer dollars siphoned, wasted, and recycled to rich corporations… over two decades. Evil on an unimaginable scale, in other words. What of all this agony?
Every year, we hold memorial ceremonies for those lost on 9/11. It’s always tearful, soulful, and in so many ways fulfilling to the American psyche. Yet it makes me want to scream: what of the hundreds of thousands murdered in the name of vengeance, of “fighting terror with terror?” Who remembers those innocents with anything approaching this feeling, this pomp and ceremony? I have asked – and received no answer from the administration. Why should they care?
Yes… we are a society that loves its junk food. For the body, and for the soul.
If this is leadership through democracy in your mind, forgive me: it reflects brutal hegemony to me, the very evil that so-called “terrorists” and “subversives” give their lives fighting to defeat. “Oh,” you say, “democracies are flawed, and always make mistakes! We must LEARN from them!” Pray tell: what are we to learn from 20 years of our “mistakes?”
Two decades later, in an unceremonious departure from Afghanistan, forced by an almost bloodless and breathtakingly rapid takeover by the same fundamentalist regime that we’d replaced there with our invasion of that nation, we leave to an eerily similar scene repeating.
Another man falling. From a large plane.
This time it’s a young Afghan, one among many that fell from that plane to which they clung as it took off… a desperate gesture that almost seemed to say “do not leave us here after promising us freedom.” And no, this wasn’t the only tragedy: in retaliation for a terrorist attack on the airfield, Americans shot a missile from a drone at an aid worker carrying water to his vehicle in a can killing him and many children of a family. There are also reports of American soldiers firing into crowds in the immediate aftermath of the terrorist attack that killed 13 of our own. America going berserk, again. Innocents dead and murdered again. But we did not mean to do it.
An ignoble end to a two decades-long occupation of a far-east nation.
The ultimate result of our occupation of Afghanistan? The terrorist organization, Al-Qaeda, that once lived as rats do in burrows within that nation’s mountains, is now an integral part of the government of the nation. Sirajuddin Haqqani, of the Haqqani militant network designated by the UN as a terrorist organization, is their newly-minted interior minister.
Yay for democracy! Yay for America!
Do we ever ask: “What, in our own actions, originated such hatred and desperation? What part did we play?”
That’s how long I’ve battled, using free speech, in this flawed democracy that is America. All to convince my neighbors and the people at large to adhere to public health measures for their benefit and that of the community.
What is this Great Battle, you say? Masks. Well-fitted, multi-layered, face-coverings that both minimize intake of ‘aerosolized’ droplets afloat in the air and expulsions of the same. And getting everyone to wear them when in public places or congregations. The battle fares poorly – hence this blog. Nothing, absolutely nothing, seems to convince an obdurate populace that this is indeed the right thing to do in a pandemic.
I did not always fight this battle alone; like-minded others often joined with me in neighborhood discussions. But the mob, dead set against such “infringement of their freedoms,” silenced me: they ganged up in neighborhood discussion threads to accuse my messages of being “divisive” and thus succeeded in deleting them – democratically. I withdrew. A laser is hardly the tool to carve stone.
After one such skirmish, a note I penned to one of my compatriots:
“John Stuart Mill had some interesting observations on such social dynamics, James… paraphrasing one of his astute sayings, information, and rational arguments, can often be resisted by folks who base their convictions upon emotions and feelings…such folks tend to get more aggressive as their positions begin to weaken, for their sense of security is threatened.
“People react in general out of ignorance, discomfort, and fear – of the other, of change, of the unknown. I know this and try to minimize their discomfort while shedding light on something or the other…but, sadly, that has not been the “American Way” for far too long.
“I am as responsible as they are in this strange censorship, for I’ve committed the greatest of all crimes: Thought Crime! 😉 I’ve endeavored to show that their thoughts, nay, even their innermost convictions, may be suspect. Hence the attack with religion by one of the participants: “Jesus confronted the likes of you!” I was tempted to point out Mathew 5:28 to him, about Thought Crime, but better impulses prevailed.
“In general, though, JSM argued that “…free discourse is a necessary condition for intellectual and social progress. We can never be sure, he contends, that a silenced opinion does not contain some element of the truth. He also argues that allowing people to air false opinions is productive…” – Wikipedia
“What can we do, but say what we think will help, do what we can to help? That is what another good book advocates: action alone is our purview, not its results (in brief). Relevant to the present, I think it is very important to help enlighten everyone about the dangers of throwing caution to the winds in this pandemic.
This failed effort, at bridging ignorance and stark differences in opinion, has me wondering: where has all the lofty thought and brave sacrifice that went into the American Revolution gone? Was that unity driven by truth and principle, or was it just a cover for the pecuniary and administrative gains to be made by the few who manipulated the many?
The evidence – if one looks at the Civil Rights struggles that continue – strongly suggests the materialistic reason.
The only mask worn with glee covers the ugly racial truth.
This Saturday, the 28th of August, is National Weed Out Hate Day, also celebrated as Speak Kind Words Saturday…
All weekend, get a FREE copy of ‘Humbling and Humility,’ for the Kindle, my first work of nonfiction that attempts to “bridge genders and cultures” as I call it. I guarantee that you’ll find an immigrant father’s trials and resilience enlightening.
A funny thought occurred to me yesterday and thought to share it. Amuse yourselves (if you have a few minutes)…
Covid-19 saved me. “How!?”, you ask.
Just before the pandemic hit us all full-force, I’d fallen and hurt myself (am too young for that sort of thing) in the middle of the night. Woke face-down on the carpet, in fact. A strange feeling of all my organs in utter disorder accompanied that rude awakening… calmed the mind (funny how that works!) and slowly tested out all my faculties. Everything was in place, in good working order, and I did get back to sleep again. As is habitual, ignored this strange mishap, though I did take pictures of the gash on my forehead to investigate. Just in case aliens were responsible.
My teen – when he heard about it – insisted that I get checked up. The doc, about my tender age, advised an ECG and declared everything was wrong about my heart rhythm. He said the next time this happens, go directly to the ER.
But he did little to explain what could be done to correct the dangerous malady he perceived…and prescribed me a pill for BP reduction. A pill that’d enhance the expression of ACE-2 on my cells, and cause similar symptoms to Covid-19. Won’t go into the gory medical details here…
So – I took his pills… for a month. And experienced the dry hacking cough he warned me of, and dizziness when getting up from artificially lowered blood pressure.
And read up voraciously on everything in the Renin Angiotensin System of the human body. The pills became all the more undesirable: they increased my susceptibility to Covid-19 by increasing ACE2 expression; that is the very pathway for the dreaded virus into our cells. My reading also uncovered that Moringa Oleifera, the common Drumstick tree leaves and fruit, is of great help with what ailed me.
Thus started my journey into the world of natural medicine and all sorts of herbs and roots.
I read up on Ayurvedic principles, and everything researchers in Traditional Chinese Medicine practiced, with their concoctions, to help their Covid patients. And began collecting such supplements, extracts, and teas. Reducing the the dosage of the pills prescribed by the doc, I ramped up my Moringa Oleifera and supplement intake, became a herbal tea practitioner, and transitioned over into Natural Healing entirely.
A year later, I am astounded by the results!
Lost weight, mostly the excess water retention in the body, and some blubber, so much so that a student’s father, a doctor himself, repeatedly asked if everything was okay, for he saw someone much slimmer! NO Hypertension whatsoever.
Everything these days is better: sleep, my sense of taste, smell, and cognitive abilities, and not surprisingly, an optimistic outlook on life despite the isolation of the pandemic. So… Covid took me on a journey into nature, one that brought out the young human from within. The learning, a renewed capacity and eagerness to do so, the sense of well-being… I owe it all largely to Covid 😉 Shouldn’t I be grateful, despite the global tragedy?
There! Now, am I crazy? Feel totally free to comment/share your thoughts…
A quiet summer day at the local Public Library’s second-hand book shop, ‘The FriendsPlace.’ I volunteered there as a cashier, their only Asian-American volunteer. Profits generated from this annex to the library went largely to scholarships for high school kids of all races who volunteered there as well.
Out of the corner of my eye, I saw a burly Hispanic gentleman looking at some DVD’s in the second room of this book shop. Keeping an eye on customers and helping them make up their minds also fell to the cashier at the front of the shop. This customer seemed bothered about the price of the DVD’s: $1 each, for they were used discs from the library. Some minutes later, he approached the cash register.
“Here are 6 DVD’s,” he said, brusquely. “Don’t know how many are good.” Can I pay $3 for them?
“Here, let me take a look! We’ll be able to tell if any of them are scratched or bad,” said I.
Upon inspection, none of the DVD’s appeared to be scratched or otherwise damaged. “Why not pick three you really like for $3? They are $1 each…”
“I only have $3 with me, and I’d like them all,” said he.
“I don’t think I can do that,” I replied.
“Who’s your manager? I want to speak to the manager,” said he. “The manager cannot change prices at your demand,” said I, but he appeared to become incensed. I went into the inner room and brought out Donna, the team leader for our volunteer shift. Howard and Tina had also listened to this conversation and appeared somewhat nonplussed. I made sure Donna knew what the customer was demanding before she addressed him. That too seemed to rile him up.
“I was asking your cashier to give me these DVD’s – they look bad – for $3, and he’s refusing,” said the customer.
“But they’re $1 each,” said Donna.
“And we cannot give arbitrary discounts to select customers,” said I.
“WHO ARE YOU? Who are you to say what can and cannot be done? I WAS BORN HERE! WHERE ARE YOU FROM?” He’d evidently lost his thin veneer of civilized conduct.
“I am an immigrant from India,” I retorted. “What difference does that make?”
“Rian, please, I need you away from here!” said Donna. The situation was unraveling, and I’d stood up to my full height, towering above them both. I glared at the bellicose customer, while Donna told him that he could have the DVD’s for the price he demanded.
“I’ll bring the money,” said he, and began to leave.
“Don’t come back,” said I – but moved into the inner room to update Howard and Tina on what transpired.
After the customer returned, I helped Donna enter the transaction into the register. “He was definitely a racist, Rian, I just wanted him out of the shop!” said Donna. Tina agreed with her. I smiled. “In all my years, I’ve always stood by my team,” said Howard. He was an elderly and very well-traveled gentleman, a retired librarian. Clearly, he did not approve of the humble pie a team member had to swallow.
Needless to say, following my son’s reaction to this incident, when I related it to him, I excused myself from volunteering at the unfriendly ‘FriendsPlace’ soon.
Dying sons call out for their mothers. Soldiers do. So do patients and those in extreme distress. George Floyd’s plea for the comfort that only his beloved mama could give him – as he lay dying, utterly helpless under the knees of three cops – twisted every heart. It ravaged mine… no thinking, feeling human can ignore that cry.
I did as did George, once. Severely ill, with my partner unable to help or comfort me, I called out to my mother in troubled sleep. And, some days later, I traveled to see her – and wasn’t shocked when she asked me if I’d been calling out to her. There’s some strange connection between the minds and hearts of mothers and children: they sense each other over vast distances. Quantum entanglement of some sort, maybe. As she lay in a hospital bed a few years ago reassuring me, over an international call, that she’d be returning home in a couple of days, I knew in my heart that she would not.
But it’s not that bond I write about. Please, read no further if you cannot bear the agony that I will express ahead: this piece is of that resonance in humanity, pain to grievous pain.
When a mature, big, man called, “Mama! … Mama! …,” how could any human being not respond to that? How could one not know that this was a dying man’s last gasp, his final reach toward any fleeting, imaginary comfort? How could Chauvin, the cop who had his knee on George’s neck with as much of his weight as he could apply on it, and the other cops who were on George, not have heard this? All the more so when George had been begging to breathe, for the many minutes that passed, while these so-called “Protect and Serve” folks crushed him into the pavement?
George’s mother Cissy had passed away the year before. He knew this, and yet he called out to her. Some call it a ‘sacred invocation.’ I know it only as a son’s dying plea.
In that duration, as they cruelly rejected George’s dying pleas, those cops revealed their true relationship to the people they serve: they have the authority, the right to use deadly force, and they condemned George to suffer all the force they could bring to bear on him. This was no split-second decision. They sat on George for 9 minutes and 29 seconds.
George suffered the most unjust of all deaths: by the callous hands and knees, and the weight, of those charged with protecting him. Do you see his eyes bulging? Many bystanders did and responded to his pain.
George was murdered, his pleas ignored, the humanity of bystanders brushed aside.
Good Friday through Easter Sunday, download a nonfiction, ‘Humbling and Humility,’ FREE for the Kindle. In a few words, it’s an illuminating slice of an immigrant father’s life in America.
A ‘micro-short: Saving Easter,’ a few minutes’ read, gives you a taste of my writing. While I love imaginative fiction, an inclination toward science and lifelong learning drives me to enjoy true stories of life, adventure, and exploration. That’s mostly what I write about. Both the short and HnH are entirely and deliciously true.
Not fooling you, despite the blog picture above…
Like the short or HnH? Leave comments or a review for others to enjoy! Happy Easter!
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