A Crisis Forgotten

In Government on August 30, 2010 at 12:04 pm

A look at the news will quickly headline Glenn Beck’s Saturday rally, conspiracies surrounding Obama’s religion and birth place, anti-Islam sentiments and mosque controversies, and even Paris Hilton’s latest arrest resulting her possession of cocaine.  Amidst all the panelists heated debates, Pakistan and her people have been lost and forgotten.

Back in July, Pakistan was hit with record breaking storms that left the poverty-stricken nation in a state of devastation.

A Pakistani child seeks assistance while trying to stay afloat in a flooded city street.

20-million people have been displaced, 1,600 have lost their lives, and a fifth of Pakistan, roughly the same area as Italy, has been submerged as monsoon rains continue to ravage the lands.

Thousands of those displaced have resorted to make-shift homes and tents placed along a highway median.  Children run the grassy fields on the shoulders, dodging 60-mph traffic on all sides.  With the largest natural disaster in its history, Pakistan continues to suffer as the media casually ignore the crisis opting for, instead, stories of celebrities and mundane controversies.

Relief efforts from the international community as well as celebrities has paled in comparison to that which was devoted to Haiti in the midst of its earthquake crisis.  The crisis resonates volumes given the state of Pakistan prior to the flooding.

A nation bathed in political turmoil and corruption has left the population in poverty.  Many Pakistanis rely on agriculture as a form of subsistence, a mechanism, which, as a result of mass flooding, has been completely dissolved of any means of production or profit.

Those families living on the median have found the spot, aside from the dangers of traffic, to be quite the advantageous spot with the occasional vehicle stopping by with supplies or food to hand out.’

United Nations Secretary General recently visited Pakistan and returned saying that it would take $500,000,000 to provide adequate relief to the region.  There have been a number of minor demonstrations and movements aimed at raising awareness and relief, but have found little luck and much resistance given the current economic climate and disasters, both natural and man-made,  in other areas of the world.

So what is to become of Pakistan after the flood waters recede?  Lost crops and livestock along with property damaged cities will leave many residents lacking essential resources.  Diseases have already risen to epidemic proportions as healthcare was initially scarce and has diminished only further.

I would hope that, as a nation, people would rise up and answer the call to help their fellow brothers.  It should not rest on the government’s shoulders to draw attention to the crisis, although it would help.  In the words of Pablo Casals, “the love of one’s country is a splendid thing.  But why should love stop at the border?”


Postmarked: 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.

In Government, Politics, Religion, White House on August 14, 2010 at 10:39 am

Dear Mr. President,

I would like to take this opportunity to thank you.  Thank you for supporting the Manhattan mosque – the Manhattan mosque, not the Ground Zero mosque, nor the 9/11 mosque, as some “politicians” have recently relabeled it.  Your public announcement supporting the mosque is one of the finest demonstrations of American ideology that I have witnessed in my lifetime.  You show the world that our nation remains one of progress and tolerance, even if we continue, as a country, to struggle with these ideas every day.  America is supposed to be the leader of the free world, we are supposed to be the guardians of freedom and deliverers of democracy, ideas that I once believed to be true, but have lost faith in over the past years.  You, Mr. President, allow be to believe that hope remains and that those principles will not falter as long as we fight for them.

Your words regarding the controversial Manhattan mosque, delivered during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan and on the evening of the White House hosted Iftar dinner, reinforce the lost tenets of America’s virtuous moral compass.  In a year of dismal approval ratings approaching midterm elections, Republicans, namely Conservatives, have been propelled to the forefront of “righteousness.”  The Tea Party has come to stand for “morals, values, and defenders of the United States Constitution.”  Yet, you’ve demonstrated to the whole nation, and, more importantly, to the entire world, that acts of intolerance have no place near or Constitution.  One of our most revered Constitutional rights is clearly outlined in the First Amendment:

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…”

The idea of a mosque being built in Manhattan in the near vicinity of Ground Zero shouldn’t be as controversial a subject as it has become, but for whatever reason, Tea Partiers and Republicans, in their quest to uphold the Constitution, have forgotten what is actually in said document.

Their reasoning of America’s founding being based on Judeo-Christian principles is widely accepted as fact, yet, simple review of founding documents, essays, speeches, letters, and such, reveal that the Founding Fathers had no intention of utilizing religion as a basis of the newly born nation.  This most explicitly noted in Article 11 of the Treaty of Tripoli, an agreement of peace between the United States and an Arab nation and her Muslim people:

“As the government of the United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian Religion,-as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion or tranquility of Musselmen,-and as the said States never have entered into any war or act of hostility against any Mehomitan nation, it is declared by the parties that no pretext arising from religious opinions shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries.”

And you, Sir, have done well to personify and uphold these principles.  Your words remind me of those of your greatest predecessor, President George Washington.  In a 1789 letter to the United Baptist Churches in Virginia, Washington declared:

“…every man…ought to be protected in worshipping the [d]eity according to the dictates of his own conscience.”

So it is with gratitude and hope that I write these words.  Your words have allowed the dimming light of that “shining city upon a hill” to continue in radiance, beaming hope, and, possibly one day, illuminating the world.

Your Say: Democrats or Republicans

In Government, Politics on August 13, 2010 at 9:13 am

2010 is a big year for politics.  November’s midterm elections are sure to see their fair share of controversy.  With Obama’s and Congress’ ratings down, Republicans could, seemingly, have an easy victory this Fall.  But primary elections have shown the GOP split as voters back far more radically conservative candidates than the party endorses.  Pundits have called this a blessing and a curse.  What say you?