Thursday, June 26, 2008

Shut down your mind!

THIS is a lingering question that keeps haunting me time and again: ifI want to be good Muslim, should I shut down my mind and submit myselftotally to God? Can I be a good servant of God while still reservingsome space for doubt, question, and skepticism?

The way Islam is presented in the modern discourse of Islamistliterature is very interesting. Take for example the popular work byAbul A'la Maududi, the founder of Jamaat-i Islam-i in Pakistan, entitled Towards Understanding Islam. I stumbled upon this book long time ago while I was still a young student in madrasa in Indonesia.

Islam, in the Maududian discourse, means literally submission. "Muslim"means some one who submits and surrenders. Islam is an act ofsubmission. God has laid down for humanity a set of rules that willlead them to the path of salvation. To be a Muslim means to submityourself to God's sovereignty.

Islam, for Maududi, is not a religion as it is usually understood bywestern people, i.e. a personal conviction and faith that has nobearing on the public life. Islam is a faith plus a system; a religionthat unfolds in the history of humankind in the form of completecivilization.

The mission of the prophet, according to Maududi, is not simply toproduce individuals who adhere to moral teachings, but also politicalsystem in the modern sense of the word. In other words, Muhammad, inMaududian discourse, is not merely a teacher of moral life in the wayBuddha is, but also Constantine who is taking upon himself a tremendoustask of erecting an empire, a political system, a state, a dawla.

Submission in Islam is not simply an act of personal piety, but rathera "public" act to submit to a certain divinely sanctioned system. Thatis the system of God. For people like Maududi, God is not a solitary"father" in the dark corner of the world who cares so little about themundane affairs. God acts in the same manner as a CEO in the moderncompanies who is busy as hell with the minutiae of human affairs,ranging from state administration down to the trivial affairs such ashow you enter the bathroom. (Yup, even your CEO won't care how andwhere the hack you pee!)

God's rule is so complete and comprehensive that it leaves no singleaspect in human life unattended. To be a good Muslim is to placeyourself under this complete and totalitarian rule of God. Yes, God hasequipped humankind with the faculty of reason. But, watch out: reasonis given by God to test human truthful allegiance to his rule.

If we use our mind to challenge and question divine rule, that amounts to an act of rebellion against divine sovereignty.

In other words, if you want to be a good Muslim, you have no choice butshut down your mind. Of course, Maududi and the likes would do theirbest to repudiate any accusation that Islam is a religion thatcontravenes human reason. He will show you, of course apologetically,that Islamic history is ripe with the best instances where reason andrevelation coexists harmoniously producing the fruit of civilizationthat benefit all humankind. Even Europe owes Islamic civilizations agreat deal of debt.

Sound good argument, doesn't it?

But I don't buy it, AT ALL. Yes, Muslim generations over centuriesdeveloped a rich and magnificent civilization. But the standard bearersof that civilization were people of totally different breed. They arethe champions of humanism and rationalism. They were even the victim ofpeople of yore whose religious view was not so different from Maududi:totalitarian, anti-intellectual, and so hostile to the "other". IfMuslim philosophers and scientists like Ibn Sina (Avicenna), Ibn Rushd(Averroes), Ibn Baja (Avempace) and many others were ever resurrectedagain from their grave, they would definitely disown people likeMaududi outright!

JOHN Shelby Spong, a Christian theologian from the US, is one of my favorite writer. In a book that he published recently, Jesus for the Non-Religious, he said something about religion that resonates so deeply with my understanding of Islam. Listen to him as follows:

The Christianity that is now emerging in America and in the ThirdWorld is something with which I do not choose to be identified. I donot want to be filled with competing claims or disturbing anger. I donot want to worship a God that I cannot challenge, or be loyal to atradition that requires me to shut down my mind. (p. 7)

Spong is definitely a courageous man of religion. He chooses a thornypath: a God we are able to challenge, not God who judges our allegianceto him by how far down in the slope we can go to shut our mind down.

Of course, this is not what Maududi thinks about God. Maududi's God isa totalitarian God. Spong's God is a God of dialogue, a God with whom Ican negotiate.

I submit to this type of God.[] Ulil Abshar Abdalla (courtesy: Milis Pluralitas)

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Republican Jewish Coalition responsible for mailing anti-Muslim film

The Republican Jewish Coalition is responsible for a mailing received by Reform rabbis and other Jews that included a DVD of the controversial anti-Muslim film Obsession, JewsOnFirst. org has learned. At least part of the mailing was sent under the postal permit of Christians United for Israel, a leading Christian Zionist organization. The DVD was packaged inside a book by David Brog (see scan below, at right), CUFI's executive director. The package also contained a letter by a former Israeli ambassador to Washington, endorsing Brog's book and calling on Jews to accept an alliance with Christian Zionists. CUFI's media representative told JewsOnFirst. org that the package was "mailed out" by the Republican Jewish Coalition. The representative, Juda S. Engelmayer, was unable to specify a particular mailing list the coalition used, but said he believed the recipients came from "a combination of various lists." Informal surveys by JewsOnFirst and others determined that the mailing was received by many rabbis, and also many members of the Jewish community. A staffer at the Central Conference of American Rabbis, the organized rabbinate of Reform Judaism, said that the organization had neither made its list available for the mailing nor sent the package through its mailing house.

Book cover altered
The Republican Jewish Coalition's media officer asked that a request to confirm the group's role in the mailing be emailed. She has not responded to the email or subsequent phone messages. Engelmayer of CUFI told JewsOnFirst that he did not know what motivated the Republican Jewish Coalition's involvement, but that the mailing was intended to reach "the broadest spectrum of Jewish community members." It is likely however, that Obsession was added to the book specifically for the mailing. The cover of Brog's book, Standing with Israel, that arrived in the mailing is different than the cover currently advertised on his website. The cover in the packages received this week indicates that the DVD of Obsession is inside (see scan above). The original cover, copied this morning from Brog's website and shown here below the book cover from the mailing, has no reference to Obsession. A knowledgeable source who asked not to be identified said that the Republican Jewish Coalition dictated the contents of the mailing as a condition of getting CUFI's message to the Jewish audience that CUFI wished to reach. The Republican Jewish Coalition is a national organization, headquartered in Washington, DC, with revenue of $4 million in 2005. It calls itself "the pre-eminent Republican organization in the Jewish community." On February 14th, the group's website had a news releaseslamming Democratic presidential contender Barack Obama's plan to try to bridge the widening gap between Muslim and Western nations." Rabbi Joan Friedman a professor of Religion and Jewish Studies at the College of Wooster in Wooster, Ohio, said it would be a mistake for Jews to involve themselves in the enduring contention between Islam and Christianity. "There is a long history between Christianity and Islam but if the Christians want to get on an anti-Islamic hobby horse, I think it is a mistake to buy into that," said Friedman, who received the mailing this week. (You can listen to our recorded conversation with Friedman here.) CUFI displaying link to Obsession trailer

Responding to a question about the thinking that went into sending the anti-Muslim film Obsession to Reform rabbis, who are often engaged in interfaith work, Engelmayer, CUFI's representative, said that CUFI also engages in interfaith work. Engelmayer added that CUFI has nothing to do with the film. In response, JewsOnFirst noted that CUFI's contact with Muslims is limited to harsh critics of Islam like Walid Shoebat-- and that CUFI's websitedisplays a link to the Obsession trailer, using the photo below. Rabbi Steven B. Jacobs, founder of the Progressive Faith Foundation, who has been active in efforts at Jewish-Muslim bridge-building, said in an interview with JewsOnFirst. org that Obsession "offers an inflammatory portrayal of Islam and stigmatizes all Muslims as potential terrorists." Jacobs expressed concern that the film is "going to blow up the bridge that many of us have worked hard to establish." (You can listen to our recorded conversation with Jacobs here.) The film has sparked controversey around the country; critics have challenged its thinly disclaimed portrayal of Muslims as violent and hostile. Campus screenings have sometimes been canceled, in one instance because of fears that the film would provoke anti-Muslim hate crimes. Florida Attorney General screened film for staff
Recently Florida's Attorney General Bill McCollum prompted an outcry from Muslim and civil liberties groups when he screened Obsession three times for his staff during business hours, in government buildings. Earlier this week Muslim leaders, civil rights leaders, and Rabbi Jacobs met with McCollum about the screenings. Jacobs told JewsOnFirst that, while McCollum did not require his staff of 400 to see the film, "it was quite intimidating" for staffers to refuse to see the film and the few Muslims on his staff were "quietly threatened." As a result of the meeting, McCollum agreed to establish a Muslim advisory panel and to educate his staff about Islam.
However, Jacobs noted, with the widespread mailing of Obsession into the Jewish community "many more will see the film" and "we've got an enormous responsibility to tell truths and not set a people up the way we were set up. In my opinion the Muslims are the new Jews of America in terms of being scape-goated and being hated. And we know that as well as anybody and we need to challenge this film."

Israeli ambassador urges U.S. Jews to embrace Christian Zionists
In the cover letterincluded in the mailing, former ambassador Daniel Ayalon praised CUFI's David Brog for his work with Christians and urged Jews to overcome their antipathy to Christian Zionists. "For the first time in Israel's history, we are seeing the emergence of a significant pro-Israel movement outside of the Jewish community," wrote Ayalon, who was ambassador to the U.S. between 2002 and 2006.

Rabbi Philip Bentley of Agudas Israel Congregation in Hendersonville, North Carolina, said that Reform Movement organizations ought to protest Ayalon's intervention in U.S. politics. "The Central Conference of American Rabbis and the Union for Reform Judiasm ought to register a strong protest against this mailing and against former Ambassador Ayalon for lending himself, his organization, and his title to the Hagee organization, " Bently said. "If we are silent we have only ourselves to blame if Hagee makes inroads into our movement." As does Ayalon in his letter, Brog (who is Jewish) argues in Standing with Israel that Jews should appreciate -- not shun -- Christian Zionist support for Israel. Christian Zionism not an easy sell
Many Jews reject allying with Christian Zionists because of their fundamentalist domestic positions. CUFI's executive board and its directors include some of the biggest names on the religious right -- Gary Bauer, Jonathan Falwell and Rod Parsley, to name a few. In the two-plus years that CUFI has been in existence, local Jewish federations have pressured rabbis to participate in CUFI's "Nights to Honor Israel." These programs usually feature televangelist John Hagee, CUFI's founder and chairman, who typically presents a big donation to the local federation and sometimes to an Israeli settlement project as well. Some Jews reject the Christian Zionists' credo that Israel will be the scene of the "Battle of Armageddon" that presages the return of Jesus. Rabbi Bill Leffler, vice president of MoneyWatch Financial Advisors, said he found Brog's book "a sorry commentary on why we should appreciate the religious right's support of Israel which has to do with the rapture and not the intrinsic worth of Israel. Politics can make for strange bedfellows!" Recently CUFI has been trying to downplay Hagee's promotion of endtimes prophecy. CUFI's represenatitve Engelmayer emphasized that Hagee has said "countless times" that he does not believe Jesus' return is imminent. But Hagee has been promoting a U.S. attack on Iran in an end-times context. Additionally, CUFI has gone out of its way to oppose Israeli-Palestinian negotiations that might lead to Israeli concessions. That causes some who believe it is in Israel's interest to negotiate a settlement with the Palestinians, to question the value of CUFI's support for Israel. "If they want to contribute money to build hospitals, it is hard to argue with that, said Prof. Joan Friedman. But, she continued, "their contributions are not so innocent. They support groups that are inimical to the peace process." The opinions and views articulated by the author do not necessarily reflect those of Israel e News. asp?ID=1124

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Target Iran: Christian Fundamentalists' Road To The End Of The World

By Yoginder Sikand

11 June, 2008Countercurrents. org

It is not only because of insatiable greed for oil, orbecause of America's addiction to war or because ofBush's obvious mental instability that America and itsallies now seem hell-bent on attacking Iran, althoughthese factors are certainly important. Equallycrucially, the current wave of fervent war-mongeringin the West directed against Iran owes to the enormousclout wielded by Western Christian fundamentalistorganizations who, following the invasion anddestruction of Iraq, which they had so ferventlyabetted, are now calling for a repeat performance,this time in Iran. These blood-thirsty votaries of thecult of unmitigated violence consider Iran to be themajor challenge to American and Zionist imperialism,which they regard as enjoying divine blessing.Insisting that America and Israel should invade Iranat once, they regard this as a Christian necessity.They also believe that this would herald a global warof cosmic proportions that would, so they believe,usher in the end of the world and Jesus' SecondComing, something that they passionately await.

A key American Christian fundamentalist ideologue isthe Texas-based televangelist John Hagee. He is noinsignificant crank, although his views are, to put itmildly, wildly outlandish. He is said to be close totop leaders of the American Republic Party as well asIsraeli intelligence officers and politicians. He isthe pastor of The Cornerstone Church based in SanAntonio, and also heads the multi-million dollarGlobal Evangelism media company that broadcasts hisdaily programmes on 172 television and 82 radiostations throughout the USA and around the world. Hisfervent appeals to Christian simplicity obviously arenot intended to apply to himself: he is said to be oneof the wealthiest men in his city, and the trust thathe has named after himself, The John Hagee RabbiTrust, includes among its various assets a ranchspread over almost 8000 acres.
Hagee is one of the principal ideologues of what iscalled Christian Zionism, which is said to be thefastest growing religious cult in America today. Hageeis known for his fervent support for Israel, for heconsiders this a Biblical duty binding on Christians,and has been opposed to any peace deal that mightcause Israel to give up back any occupied land to thePalestinians. He works closely with several Americanand Israeli Jewish groups, and is one of thearchitects of a Christian evangelical- Zionistalliance. Recently he was in the news for bringingtogether 400 Christian evangelical leaders,representing as many as 30 million Christians, for a'Summit on Israel', which resulted in the formation ofa new pro-Israeli lobbying group called ChristiansUnited for Israel, which intends to establish a50-state rapid-response network that aims to reachevery senator and congressman in America.

Author of numerous Christian fundamentalist texts,Hagee's latest book, 'Jerusalem Countdown: A Precludeto War' encapsulates the Christian fundamentalists'case for a joint American-Israeli invasion of Iran. Inorder to build up his argument, he portrays Iran inthe most lurid colours. 'Iran', he insists, withoutadducing any evidence (for in Christian fundamentalistcircles-and in the West more generally-such evidenceis not needed) 'is the command post for global terror'(p.vii). Under President Ahmadinijad, Hagee argues,Iran is building up a nuclear stockpile, which itintends to share with the rest of the Islamic world.Since Iran, so he claims, is motivated by hatred forIsrael and America 'without limitation', it might usethese weapons to attack both these countries and theirallies and to completely destroy Western civilisation(pp.4-5). Hence, before this can happen, America andIsrael, he insists, must invade Iran and destroy thenuclear bombs that it supposedly possesses.

As Hagee and his ilk see it, Iran's opposition toAmerica and Israel has nothing whatsoever to do withAmerican aggression and imperialism or to Zionistoccupation and Israeli crimes against humanity.Rather, this opposition is attributed squarely to thefact that most Iranians are Muslims. It is, Hageeclaims, Islam as a religion that is the cause of thesupposed hatred of Muslims (including Iranians)towards America and Israel. Here, he convenientlyignores the fact that most ruling regimes in Muslimcountries, some of which, such as Saudi Arabia, spareno effort to display their supposedly 'Islamiccredentials' , are decidedly pro-American and arelittle more than appendages of the West. Obviously,conceding this inconvenient fact would seriouslyundermine his argument.

Tracing the cause of anti-Westernism simply to Islam,Hagee claims that Jews and Christians, on the onehand, and Muslims, on the other, are presently engagedin nothing less than the final battle for globaldomination, and that, in fact, World War III hasalready begun. Since this is, as he characterises it,a religious war, a war, as George Bush describes it,between 'good' and 'evil', there can be no compromiseor settlement between the supposedly contendingparties. It is a war to the finish, even if it bringsabout the destruction of the world and the entirehuman race through nuclear conflagration. In fact,Hagee seems to clearly suggest (and this is somethingthat he appears to share with numerous otherinfluential Christian fundamentalist ideologues) thatthis grand, final war must be speeded up by allpossible means, for only then, he believes, will Jesusreturn to the world, destroy all non-Christians anddispatch all 'good' Christians, like Hagee himself, toever-lasting bliss in heaven.

In order to justify what is nothing short than aglobal anti-Islamic crusade, in which a proposedinvasion of Iran is just one step, Hagee repeats manyof the worn-out, tired clich├ęs about Islam that were,and still are, part of the stock vocabulary ofChristian fundamentalism. Islam and Christianity arepoles apart, he insists. He claims that Muslims andChristians do not even worship the same God, and thatAllah is actually 'the moon god of Mecca' (p.2). WhileChristianity is said to teach peace and love, Islam,he contends, does precisely the opposite. He claimsthat Islam was spread by the sword by the ProphetMuhammad and his followers, while, ignoring thecenturies of Christian aggression, he writes thatChristianity was spread through love and charity.Islam, he claims, insists that Muslims must kill allnon-Muslims if they do not accept to accept Islam.Muslims, are by definition, 'terrorists' , he says,because their religion allegedly teaches them thatthis is precisely what they should be. Muslims, hegoes on, are driven to hate non-Muslims because theirreligion allegedly tells them to do so. Islam, hewrites, has an 'absolute commitment' to 'violence, tomurder and to terror'. (p.70). Muslims' supposedhatred of the West, he claims, is because the West(supposedly) champions democracy, freedom, women'srights, men's respect for women, education, the loveof life, equality and so on, all of which, so Hageewants his readers to believe, Islam stronglyproscribes (p.28).

The ultimate aim of Muslims, Hagee claims, is todestroy the West, kill all Jews and Christians,because, he writes, this is 'their ticket to heavenand the seventy-two virgins that await them there'(p.23). Muslims, he argues, aim to conquering thewhole world and establishing a one-world Islamicgovernment (pp.6-16). He terrorizes his readers intobelieving that a massive Muslim 'religious army,unlike anything the Western world has seen since thesawn of civilization' is now preparing for war againstthe West, intending to conquer it and force Christiansand Jews into slavery if they do not accept Islam.(p.6)

Iranian/Muslim opposition to America and Israel thusbeing said to be entirely a result of alleged Islamicteachings, rather than having any political oreconomic causes, the solution that Hagee offers isalso expressed in religious terms: unleashing what isvirtually a second crusade against Muslims the worldover. The first step that America must do in thisregard, he argues, is to admit and announce that it isengaged in a religious war against Islam, which hesays, 'is totally dedicated' to America's destruction(p.35). Accordingly, he advises that the Americangovernment must firmly tighten control on Muslimimmigration to that country. He even goes so far as tosuggest that all American Muslims are real orpotential 'terrorists' or terrorist-sympathis ers, andclaims that 'sleeping terrorist cells' have been setup in mosques and Islamic centres across the country.(p.63). 'The Islamic army is not coming .it's here.Quietly living next door, they are waiting for thephone to ring for orders to attack', he says withregard to Muslims living in America. (p.35)

This veiled argument for justifying government-backedwitch-hunts directed against Muslims in America isaccompanied by equally frightening steps that Hageeadvocates against Muslims living elsewhere. Americamust continue, and even step up, its war in Iraq, heinsists, and must not bow to any pressure to withdrawfrom that country for that , he says, would be'perceived as a victory for radical Islam' which mightembolden Muslims to bring the war into America itself.(p.35). Simultaneously, he argues, with unconcealedglee, America must attack Iran and destroy itssupposed nuclear warheads.

This attack on Iran, Hagee writes, would be asingularly crucial event of cosmic proportions. Itwould, he claims, be nothing less than a major 'partof a much bigger picture-that of God's plan for thefuture of Israel and the entire world'. It would, infact, he says, unleash a chain of bloody anddevastating wars, the like of which humankind worldhas never witnessed before, and which would soon causethe destruction of the entire world. (p.37) The readeris not left without a strong feeling that this isprecisely what Hagee and his war-mongering fellowChristian fundamentalists actually desperately cravefor.

Hagee sketches out the chain of events that wouldfollow from the American attack on Iran which heclaims the Bible predicts in fine detail. No soonerdoes America invade Iran than a massive Muslim army,hundreds of thousands strong, will attack Israel withRussian assistance in order to destroy it. This armywould unleash nuclear weapons against America andIsrael, and, in this way, would cause what he calls 'anuclear Armageddon'. (p.53). This, Hagee insists, isnot something that can at all be prevented. In fact,he seems to suggest that this global war is somethingto be wildly celebrated by Christians because, heclaims, it has been ordained by none other than GodHimself. 'God is making it clear that He is draggingRussia and its allies into Israel', Hagee writes(p.145). The purpose: So that God can 'crush them [theRussian-Muslim alliance] so that the Jews of Israel asa whole will confess that He is the Lord!". By allcounts, nasty, brutal way for the god of Hagee'simagination to seek to convince the Jews of hisexistence.

The combined Russian-Muslim force that attacks Israelas soon as America and Israel attack Iran will causewidespread death, Hagee says, but then God willintervene and cause his 'fury [to] explode' againstthose who have gathered against the Jews, for God,Hagee claims, considers the Jews 'His chosen people'.But no sooner has the Russo-Muslim army been quashedthan another major opponent appears: this time in theform of the Anti-Christ, the Son of Satan, who will,through his powers of black magic, conquer the entireworld. He will enter into a seven-year peace treatywith the Jews ostensibly in order to protect them fromthe Muslims and the Russians, but after three and ahalf years have passed he will break the treaty andwill turn on the Jews, seeking to obliterate them. Inthis task, Hagee writes, he will be assisted by whatthe Bible calls the 'Man from the East', which heidentifies as China.

This represents the culmination of the final battlethat heralds the end of the world, so Hagee (likeother Biblical literalists and Christian extremists)believes. In this war against the Anti-Christ andChina, the West will join forces with the Jews, at aplace call Armageddon, a narrow valley outsideJerusalem, which the Bible describes in considerablegory detail.

Just before the battle is about to begin, a miraclewill appear, so Hagee ardently believes. Quoting theBook of Revelations, the last chapter of the ChristianBible, he writes, Jesus will descend to earth from theskies, clothed in a garment dipped in blood and seatedon a white horse. He will be followed by a heavenlycavalry to assist him. His task, Hagee quotes the Bookof Revelations as saying, will be to judge and makewar. With the sharp sword that he wields in his mouth,Jesus shall 'strike the nations' that have gatheredagainst Israel, killing the Anti-Christ and the 'Manfrom the East' and sending them-literally hundreds ofmillions of people-all non-Christians, that is-toeternal torment in hell. The blood of those slain byJesus, Hagee approvingly refers to the Book ofRevelations as announcing, would create a virtual 'seaof human blood' that will be 'two hundred miles long'.

Jesus would then ascend his throne in Jerusalem, fromwhere he would rule the entire (and, if Hagee is to bebelieved, the by-then entirely Christian) world for athousand years. A 'Golden Age of Peace' is how Hageecharacterizes this era, although how non-Christianscould ever consider it so is something that heobviously does not bother about. 'Rejoice and beglad', he excitedly announces, celebrating the gorychain of events that he describes with such passionthat he says will unfold in the wake of an Americaninvasion of Iran, 'The best is yet to be!'.
That 'best' that Hagee and his fellow Christianextremists so fervently pine for, is nothing less thanthe destruction of the entire world.
http://countercurre 0608.htm

Bill Gate's Rule of Life

Bill Gates recently gave a speech at a High School about 11 things they did not and will not learn in school. He talks about how feel-good, politically correct teachings created a generation of kids with no concept of reality and how this concept set them up for failure in the real world.

Rule 1: Life is not fair - get used to it!

Rule 2: The world won't care about your self-esteem. The world will expect you to accomplish something BEFORE you feel good about yourself.

Rule 3: You will NOT make $60,000 a year right out of high school. You won't be a vice-president with a car phone until you earn both.

Rule 4: If you think your teacher is tough, wait till you get a boss.

Rule 5: Flipping burgers is not beneath your dignity. Your Grandparents had a different word for burger flipping: they called it opportunity.

Rule 6: If you mess up, it's not your parents' fault, so don't whine about your mistakes, learn from them.

Rule 7: Before you were born, your parents weren't as boring as they are now. They got that way from paying your bills, cleaning your clothes and listening to you talk about how cool you thought you were. So before you save the rain forest from the parasites of your parent's generation, try delousing the closet in your own room.

Rule 8: Your school may have done away with winners and losers, but life HAS NOT. In some schools, they have abolished failing grades and they'll give you as MANY TIMES as you want to get the right answer. This doesn't bear the slightest resemblance to ANYTHING in real life.

Rule 9: Life is not divided into semesters. You don't get summers off and very few employers are interested in helping you FIND YOURSELF. Do that on your own time.

Rule 10: Television is NOT real life. In real life people actually have to leave the coffee shop and go to jobs.

Rule 11: Be nice to nerds. Chances are you'll end up working for one.


Saturday, June 07, 2008

The President of India DR. A. P. J. Abdul Kalam's Speech in Hyderabad

Agree 110 % ! Please forward to other fellow Indonesians around the world
The future of Indonesia is in our hands. We can start it small, start with ourselves but start it now.

Wise words that can apply too to us " The Indonesian.. ."

The President of India DR. A. P. J. Abdul Kalam's Speech in Hyderabad *

Got 10 minutes for our country? If yes, then read; otherwise, choice is yours.

Why are we in India so embarrassed to recognize our own strengths, our achievements? We are such a great nation. We have so many amazing success stories but we refuse to acknowledge them. Why?

We are the first in milk production.

We are number one in Remote sensing satellites.

We are the second largest producer of wheat.

We are the second largest producer of rice.

Look at Dr. Sudarshan , he has transferred the tribal village into a self-sustaining, self-driving unit. There are millions of such achievements but our media is only obsessed in the bad news and failures and disasters. I was in Tel Aviv once and I was reading the Israeli newspaper. It was the day after a lot of attacks and bombardments and deaths had taken place. The Hamas had struck. But the front page of the newspaper had the picture of a Jewish gentleman who in five years had transformed his desert into an orchid and a granary. It was this inspiring picture that everyone woke up to. The gory details of killings, bombardments, deaths, were inside in the newspaper, buried among other news.

In India we only read about death, sickness, terrorism, crime. Why are we so NEGATIVE? Another question: Why are we, as a nation so obsessed with foreign things? We want foreign T. Vs, we want foreign shirts. We want foreign technology.

Why this obsession with everything imported. Do we not realize that self-respect comes with self-reliance? I was in Hyderabad giving this lecture, when a 14 year old girl asked me for my autograph. I asked her what her goal in life is. She replied: I want to live in a developed India . For her, you and I will have to build this developed India . You must proclaim. India is not an under-developed nation; it is a highly developed nation. Do you have 10 minutes? Allow me to come back with a vengeance.

Got 10 minutes for your country? If yes, then read; otherwise, choice is yours.

YOU say that our government is inefficient.

YOU say that our laws are too old.

YOU say that the municipality does not pick up the garbage.

YOU say that the phones don't work, the railways are a joke.The airline is the worst in the world, mails never reach their destination.

YOU say that our country has been fed to the dogs and is the absolute pits.

YOU say, say and say.

What do YOU do about it? Take a person on his way to Singapore . Give him a name - YOURS. Give him a face - YOURS. YOU walk out of the airport and you are at your International best. In Singapore you don't throw cigarette butts on the roads or eat in the stores. YOU are as proud of their Underground links as they are. You pay $5 (approx. Rs. 60) to drive through Orchard Road (equivalent of Mahim Causeway or Pedder Road) between 5 PM and 8 PM. YOU come back to the parking lot to punch your parking ticket if you have over stayed in a restaurant or a shopping mall irrespective of your status identity... In Singapore you don't say anything, DO YOU? YOU wouldn't dare to eat in public during Ramadan, in Dubai . YOU would not dare to go out without your head covered in Jeddah. YOU would not dare to buy an employee of the telephone exchange in London at 10 pounds (Rs.650) a month to, 'see to it that my STD and ISD calls are billed to someone else.'YOU would not dare to speed beyond 55 mph (88 km/h) in Washington and then tell the traffic cop, 'Jaanta hai main kaun hoon ¡ (Do you know who I am?). I am so and so's son. Take your two bucks and get lost.' YOU wouldn't chuck an empty coconut shell anywhere other than the garbage pail on the beaches in Australia and New Zealand .

Why don't YOU spit Paan (sirih) on the streets of Tokyo ? Why don't YOU use examination jockeys or buy fake certificates in Boston ??? We are still talking of the same YOU. YOU who can respect and conform to a foreign system in other countries but cannot in your own. You who will throw papers and cigarettes on the road the moment you touch Indian ground. If you can be an involved and appreciative citizen in an alien country, why cannot you be the same here in India ? Once in an interview, the famous Ex-municipal commissioner of Bombay , Mr. Tinaikar, had a point to make. 'Rich people's dogs are walked on the streets to leave their affluent droppings all over the place,' he said. 'And then the same people turn around to criticize and blame the authorities for inefficiency and dirty pavements. What do they expect the officers to do? Go down with a broom every time their dog feels the pressure in his bowels?

In America every dog owner has to clean up after his pet has done the job. Same in Japan . Will the Indian citizen do that here?' He's right. We go to the polls to choose a government and after that forfeit all responsibility. We sit back wanting to be pampered and expect the government to do everything for us whilst our contribution is totally negative. We expect the government to clean up but we are not going to stop chucking garbage all over the place nor are we going to stop to pick a up a stray piece of paper and throw it in the bin. We expect the railways to provide clean bathrooms but we are not going to learn the proper use of bathrooms. We want Indian Airlines and Air India to provide the best of food and toiletries but we are not going to stop pilfering at the least opportunity.

This applies even to the staff who is known not to pass on the service to the public. When it comes to burning social issues like those related to women, dowry, girl child! and others, we make loud drawing room protestations and continue to do the reverse at home. Our excuse? 'It's the whole system which has to change, how will it matter if I alone forego my sons' rights to a dowry.

'So who's going to change the system? What does a system consist of? Very conveniently for us it consists of our neighbours, other households, other cities, other communities and the government. But definitely not me and YOU. When it comes to us actually making a positive contribution to the system we lock ourselves along with our families into a safe cocoon and look into the distance at countries far away and wait for a Mr. Clean to come along & work miracles for us with a majestic sweep of his hand or we leave the country and run away.Like lazy cowards hounded by our fears we run to America to bask in their glory and praise their system. When New York becomes insecure we run to England . When England experiences unemployment, we take the next flight out to the Gulf. When the Gulf is war struck, we demand to be rescued and brought home by the Indian government. Everybody is out to abuse and rape the country. Nobody thinks of feeding the system. Our conscience is mortgaged to money.

Dear Indians, The article is highly thought inductive, calls for a great deal of introspection and pricks one's conscience too.... I am echoing J. F. Kennedy's words to his fellow Americans to relate to Indians.....


'Let's do what India needs from us.Forward this mail to each Indian for a change instead of sending Jokes or junk mails.

Thank you,

Dr. Abdul Kalaam

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