January 1, 2013

From: Mohammed Rafiq Lodhia
To: My Fellow Americans
Subject: “THE SPIRIT OF AWARENESS”

My Dear Fellow Americans,

Eric Sloane, an American landscape painter having an immense love of his splendid motherland, America, once wrote in the chapter “THE SPIRIT OF AWARENESS” of his book “The Spirits of ’76, “Unawareness is a weakness, but indifference is a sickness. Moral indifference, that malady of the cultivated classes, is more of a national danger than any other foreign threat, and the antidote is awareness.”

Witnessing the recent coverage of our national election, many concerned American citizens will tend to respectfully disagree, I repeat, disagree with Marguerite Duras, a French writer who once said, “Journalism without a moral position is impossible. Every journalist is a moralist. It’s absolutely unavoidable.” Well, not in the world’s largest democracy. The truth of the matter is, professional journalism has taken a turn for the worse. Patrick Hayward Caddell, a former Democratic pollster and analyst in his remarks at Accuracy in Media conference had this to say:

“I think we’re at the most dangerous time in our political history in
terms of the balance of power in the role that the media plays in
whether or not we maintain a free democracy… what truth that you
may know, as an American, and what truth you are not allowed to
know, they have, then, made themselves a fundamental threat to
the democracy, and, in my opinion, made themselves the enemy of
the American people.”

With so much bitterness between the two political parties, America today is now more polarized than ever before. It is the U.S. mainstream media with a high intensity of “Intellectually Dishonest Reporting” which has caused so much harm. I would not hesitate to predict that they have most likely laid the foundation of the moral decadence of the American society at large.

Our President Barack Obama was nominated by the editors of Time magazine as “Person Of The Year,” whereas, Malala Yousufzai, a young Pakistani female activist and a symbol of the struggle of women’s rights to get education is the runner up. Fareed Zakaria one of the contributing Editors-at-Large praised President Obama for being a good foreign policy President, but he fails to realize that this same “Person of the Year” once honored with “Nobel Peace Prize” has been unsuccessful to broker a peace deal between Israelis and Palestinians during his first term in the office. With all the glitz, glamor and dishonesty, the mainstream media very cleverly covered up the sheer failure of our President to provide beefed up security to our Embassy in Benghazi, Libya which resulted in the loss of our late Ambassador Christopher Stevens along with three brave Americans, Foreign Service Officer Sean Smith and embassy security personnel Glen Doherty and Tyrone Woods. Imagine, what the “Muslim Terrorists” must be thinking? A successful symbolic day attack ten years after 9/11 is sure to give a signal that a “Weak American Leadership” is in charge.

THINK-a-little. What would the reaction be, had Malala Yousufzai been nominated the “Person Of The Year”? It would truly be a bold statement directed to the “Muslim Terrorists” that America stands tall and is on the side of those young women who keenly desire to be educated and be liberated from the clutches of evil men who wish women to remain in the darkness of ignorance. They abuse their inherent right to express their thoughts and to have a respectable place in the society. In case if no one is aware, this very first day of the New Year, five female teachers and two aid workers were gunned down in Pakistan. Fareed Zakaria while letting his reader know about Why Barack is like Ike, kept himself away from mentioning the use of “Drones” by the Obama Administration in his article in the Time magazine. The international community is profoundly concerned and so are the common citizens in the country of Pakistan.

“Saving Face” an Oscar winning documentary by Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy and Daniel Junge covers the story of acid attack on women in Afghanistan. Sharmeen is the elder daughter of my dear friend late Shaikh Mohammad Obaid (May God rest his soul in peace). She is among the sincere Pakistani citizens who is relentlessly working hard to fight for the rights of women in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Quite frankly, such a documentary hardly gets coverage in the U.S. mainstream media.

President Eisenhower, in his farewell speech to the nation, gave Americans a hint that “Disarmanent, with mutual honor and confidence, is a continuing imperative. Together we must learn how to compose differences, not with arms but with intellect and decent purpose”. Lack of “Intellectual Honesty” in the journalistic field has contributed not only to dishonest reporting, but also, to poor assessment of the situation in the international arena. A good U.S. foreign policy should respect the fact that there are 1.6 billion Muslims around the world and not all of them can be branded as terrorists with a wrongly held belief that it is following a religion that preaches nothing but violence. The harsh reality is that the flawed U.S. foreign policy will continue to raise a new breed of terrorists until and unless there is a viable and lasting peaceful settlement of the Israel/Palestine dispute.

Candidly speaking, as an American Muslim, and not to mention many of my fellow Muslims living in this great American society respect the position held by Fareed Zakaria. Though, disenchanted with the “Dishonest Coverage” by the mainstream media and its so-called elite journalists, I personally find it quite disheartening to read a part of the commencement speech at the Harvard University Class of 2012, wherein, Mr. Zakaria stated as follows:

Well, nobody builds statues anymore. They build weird, modernist
sculptures with strange pieces of metal falling off of them, but you
get my idea. Trust yourself; you know what you should do. You know
the kind of life you should live. You don’t need an ethics course to
know what you shouldn’t do. Just trust in your instincts, be true to
them, and you will make for yourself a great and a good life. And,
in doing so, you will change the world.

How’s that no one needs “An Ethics Course?” When discussing the subject matter “Ethics, it has been reported in examiner.com that 57% percent of American voters believe the news media is “either somewhat or very unethical,” It seems like Mr. Zakaria being recognized as a celebrated thought-leader and one of the top 100 global thinkers is way out of touch with the facts. Pat Caddell is right, when the U.S. mainstream media continues to insult the intelligence of the American people then they can only be considered as the enemy of the American people, period.

“True education does not consist merely in the acquiring of a few facts of science, history, literature or art, but in the development of character” remarked David O. McKay, the ninth president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. America has produced abundant men and women with “Sublime Character. Every single year many of our fellow Americans depart from this beautiful Planet Earth never to come back again. The famous ones’ lives are all recorded and documented in the history books. We lost a legendary pit-bull reporter and journalist Mike Wallace, a humble astronaut and the first person to walk on the moon Neil Armstrong, the first woman to fly in space Sally Ride, a motivational speaker Zig Zaglar, an American educator and author Stephen R. Covey, a documentarian and the father of public-access television George C. Stoney, the hard charging U.S. Army General Norman Schwarkopf, a radio and television broadcast icon Dick Clark, a boxing trainer and a brilliant corner man Angelo Dundee, pop singer Whitney Houston, a film and television actor Ernest Borgnine, stage, film and screen actors Andy Griffith and Jack Klugman and many others. All these famous men and women heard the commencement speeches from the colleges and universities from which they graduated. Sure, we Americans have plenty to be proud of, but spiritlessly, we hardly pay any attention to the wisdom which they left behind. My fondness of Neil Armstrong due to his natural American humility compels me to quote from his speech given at “NASA – 50th Anniversary” as follows:

I submit that one of the most important roles of the government is to
inspire and motivate its citizens, and particularly its young citizens to
love to learn. To strive to participate in and contribute to societal
progress. By that measure NASA will without doubt rank in the top tier
of government enterprises. The goal is far more than just going faster
and higher and further. Our goal indeed our responsibility is to develop
new options for future generations. Options in expanding human
knowledge, explorations, human settlements, and resource developments
outside in the universe around us. Our highest and most important hope is
that the human race will improve its intelligence, its character and its
wisdom so that we will be able to properly evaluate and chose among
those options and many others they will encounter in the years ahead.

Norman Cousins, an American political journalist while writing his book “Human Options” about the problems of individuals’ helplessness, when confronted with the illnesses and misdeeds of society cautioned us that “Leadership today requires not so much a determination to outsmart the other fellow as an understanding of human experiences. It requires a profound knowledge of the disease of civilizations.” Touching the subject of the disease of civilization, one needs only to think about the three gruesome tragedies of the past year. First was the Aurora theatre massacre in Colorado, where James E. Holmes killed twelve people and injured at least seventy. Second was a murderous rampage in Sandy Hook elementary school in Connecticut, where Adam Lanza killed twenty children and six adults. Third was the shooting of the worshipers at a Sikh Temple in Wisconsin by a former U.S. Army veteran Wade Michael Page killing six and injuring four others. Perhaps, the answer to such a cold blooded carnage lies in a book titled “America and the World Revolution” published in the year 1962 and written by a world renowned historian, Arnold J. Toynbee who forewarned us in the following words:

The American revolution has gone thundering on. Nothing can stop
it, no, not even the American hands that first set it rolling. But, during
these last forty-four years, your revolution has gone ahead without you.
The leadership has fallen into other hands. These non-American hands
could never have seized the leadership of your revolution if you had not
dropped it. This penalty that you have been paying for your affluence is
a heavy one.

It is now threatening America’s security, but it is also doing America
graver harm than that. Affluence is estranging America from her own
ideals. It is pushing her into the position of being the leader of the very
opposite of what America’s World Revolution stands for. It is pushing
her into becoming the policeman standing guard over vested interests.
But the future is still open. Your role in the coming chapter of the World’s
history is not yet irrevocably decided. It is still within your power to
re-enter into your heritage. It is still within your power to re-capture the
lead in your own revolution. I believe you will do it, for I do not believe
that when America is confronted with the choice, she will be willing to
sell her revolutionary birthright for even a king-size mess of potage. I
do not believe that she will submit to being the prisoner of her great
possessions, like the young man who went away sorrowful.

With this New Year, how many more sorrowful young men and women around the world will have to live day in and day out without any hope and in a state of fear surrounded by hate? We Americans have seen enough of the bloodshed not only in our streets, but also in the Holy Land embraced by Christians, Jews and Muslims. Indiscriminate use of assault weapons without any restrictions and continued expansion of military industry complex will not only weaken us domestically but it will also hurt America’s stature around the world. President Dwight D. Eisenhower with his worldly wisdom was right in reminding Americans that “In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist. We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together.”

All in all, it is high time to be wide-awake to “THE SPIRIT OF AWARENESS” during the course of this New Year. We The People will have to rise up and become alert and knowledgeable about the grave situation that is plaguing our country. Moral Indifference towards our fellow humans will have to be replaced by Moral Ethics. While we are known as the most compassionate country in the world, then let us be mindful by continuing to help and pray for the victims of Hurricane Sandy. A little prayer for Arfa Karim Randhawa (May God rest her soul in peace) the world’s youngest Microsoft Certified Professional from Pakistan who passed away on January 14, 2012 at an early age of 16 will also be in order. Simply put, let the “Intellect, “Decency,” “Kindness, “Affection, “Humility, and Morality” prevail throughout the year 2013.

May the New Year bring to you and your family health, happiness, peace and prosperity is the wish of a humble American Muslim.

God bless America, you and your beloved family members.

From my heart, a fellow American

Mohammed Rafiq Lodhia

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