January 1, 2015

From: Mohammed Rafiq Lodhia
To: My Fellow Americans

My Dear Fellow Americans,

“Our conscience like to lose itself in the music of the spheres – a music that finer ears are sometimes privileged to catch,” wrote George Santayana in the opening chapter of “Interpretations.”

“Take Me Home, Country Roads, considered as one of the most famous songs in the world, consisted of four touching words, “TEARDROP IN MY EYE. This humble American who was born and raised in the Buddhist country, lived in the Islamic country for five years, and then headed towards the “Country Roads, which took me to one of the greatest country in the world known as the United States of America. Coincidentally, my arrival in the year 1970 was when John Denver’s famous song was released. My finer ears caught the spirit of the song and even today when coming back home from another country, this evergreen song haunts my memory.

“Memory is the proof of life. Nothing really happens to a person unless it becomes memory. Some people pass through like in a state of total antisepsis. They have not touched life nor have been touched by it.” reminded Norman Cousins. To many of us, life has taught abundant lessons. However, for the few blessed ones, the crucial lessons of life can be summed up in one profoundly realistic quote of Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe as follows:

“A teacher who can arouse a feeling for one single good action, for one single
good poem, accomplishes more than he who fills our memory with rows on
rows of natural objects, classified with name and form.”

“TEARDROP IN MY EYE, reminds me about the majestic memory of one of the greatest American actors, Robin Williams who magnificently played the role of John Keating in the movie “Dead Poets Society. One thing in common between Robin Williams and this ardent fan of his, was the age. He was 63 years old when he took his life, and I am still living and deeply saddened by his sudden death. Three most unforgettable scenes from the movie was when Robin Williams (John Keating) explained to his pupils how to “Understand Poetry, and “Why We Stay Alive?” and “ ‘Carpe Diem – Seize The Day,’ seize the day boys, make your life extraordinary.

In “Interpretations of Poetry and Religion, George Santayana opined, “It is a poetry in which men believe; it is a poetry that beautifies and justifies to their minds, the positive facts of their ancestral worship, their social unity and their personal conscience.” Believing in the same spirit and with a splendid expression of human emotion, Robin Williams (John Keating) taught his students, “We don’t read and write poetry because it’s cute. We read and write poetry because we are members of the human race, ….. but poetry, beauty, romance, love, these are what we stay alive for.” What is truly remarkable is that it was in “Dead Poets Society, Walt Whitman’s poems were the major theme of the movie owing to the fact that he was considered as the poet of America, whose poems faithfully reflected the spirit of America.

“Whitman’s poetry comes from the ‘Soul of America,’ and it sings of the ‘throes of democracy,’ of the ‘Modern Man,’ of the average man, of the en masse. His poetry contains memorable, panoramic, processional pictures of American people and American scenes. The blacksmith, the Negro teamster, the butcher, the farmer returning from the fields, the mother sewing, the soldier keeping watch on the battlefield, the prostitute, the pioneer, and hundreds of others – all move in a crowd, and all are full of life and vitality,” wrote Dr. Raghukul Tilak, in his book, “Selected Poems – Walt Whitman. One of the near perfect example of such display of the true spirit of American democracy, can be captured in another superb acting by Robin Williams from a scene of the movie, “Moscow on the Hudson.

One single poem or one single good song can move the hearts and minds of countless millions of people around the world. Reminding about the importance of one good teacher, one good action, and one good poem, Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe advised his fellow humans, “Every day we should hear one little song, read one good poem, see one exquisite picture, and if possible, speak a few sensible words.” Granted that’s hard to do given that we are living in “An Age of Narcissism. Nonetheless, in spite of all the depressing moments reading about the destruction and brutalities in certain parts of the world, it is more refreshing to know that the two countries that appreciate a great American poet, Walt Whitman and a great American singer, John Denver are Germany and Japan. Witnessing tremendous death and destruction, the Germans and Japanese people simply realized that there is more to life than to be engaged in a state of endless warfare. In fact, what is amazing is that the song, “Country Roads, is always remembered and sung in their countries with immense happiness in their hearts.

“We may sing the same songs the world over and adopt the same fashions, now let us connect our voices to the concept that our world must be governed,” cautioned Norman Cousins. With so many, not only in this country, but also in the Islamic countries belonging to the “Hate America Club, it is an extremely difficult task to stress the sentiments and feelings of the Germans and Japanese people as expounded in the following words:

Letter to Hans Reisiger by Thomas Mann

“It is really a great achievement on your part that after years of devotion and
enthusiasm you have brought close to us this powerful spirit, this exuberant,
profound new personification of humanity. We Germans who are old and immature
at one and the same time can benefit from contact with this personality, symbol of
the future of humanity, if we are willing to accept him. To me personally, who has
been striving for so many years, in my own laborious way, after the idea of
humanity, convinced that no task is more urgent for Germany than to give a new
meaning to this idea – which has become a mere empty shell, a mere school
phrase – to me this work of yours is a real gift from God, for I see what Walt
Whitman calls “Democracy” is essentially nothing else than what we, in a more
old-fashioned way, call “Humanity.” I see, too, that to awaken the feelings of the
new humanity has not been accomplished by Goethe alone, but that a dose of
Whitman is needed; and this is all the more so because these two have a good
deal in common, these two ancestors of ours.”


Saburo Ota’s 1959 essay provides the best summation of Whitman’s influence in Japan

“First, the attention of literary critics was attracted by Whitman’s concept of
humanity and by the idea of literature of and by the common people. Then,
men of letters reached out to Whitman with their hearts and minds, and built
their literature on a new idea of humanity. When the consciousness of democracy
developed in Japan, the democratic thought of Whitman entered Japanese poetry,
and at the same time the significance of free verse was realized. The democratic
thought, the free verse style, and the movement of colloquialism in poetry –
these three were combined when men of letters opened their eyes to the
liberation of human beings.”

“TEARDROP IN MY EYE, poured down while reading an article, Take a stand against the armies of ignorance, by Simon Schama which was published in The Financial Times dated December 26, 2014. What struck me the most was his accurate assessment, “for it is the measure of depth to which our barbarous, benighted age has sunk that we have allowed schools to become a war zone.” Yes indeed, “The Uneducated Brutes, in Pakistan and Afghanistan being obsessed with their ignorant creed, namely, “Ignore Intelligence, are hell-bent on stopping the Muslim childrens’ inherent rights to a worldly education. Such a tragic state of affairs in a country where innocent children are slaughtered only proves that the forewarning: “Human history becomes more and more a race between education and catastrophe,” by H. G. Wells, an internationally known prolific English writer, turned out to be true.

Every school in the world should have its own John Keating (Robin Williams) to move the hearts and minds of students. Every teacher must teach his/her students with dedicated compassion. Every student should “Seize The Day, and get educated with determined enthusiasm. Every child and every family should feel secured even at times of peril. What happened in the streets of Ferguson. Missouri was indeed a disgraceful act. Inciting violence is not a democratic way. Lack of education is the root cause of the problem, period. Aside from this, we as Americans, ought to reflect upon the wishes of President Ronald Wilson Reagan as follows:

“Can we not begin by welcoming God back in our schools and by setting an
example for children by striving to abide by His Ten Commandments and
the Golden Rule?”

Candidly speaking, what is sorely missing in the American political landscape is the leader to whom “We The People, can call “O Captain, My Captain. “Political Correctness, has now become the norm of the day, and not to mention, the “Demagogues, in our midst are constantly engaged in stirring up emotions of ordinary Americans in order to create racial turmoil across the country. The perverted mindset responsible for creating chaos in this blessed country called “The United States of America, is something that is beyond comprehension. “I Can’t Breath, T-Shirts should also be rightfully accompanied by “We Must Educate. Simon Schama was absolutely right in warning that, “you and I know, in the depths of our sinking hearts, that there will be endless Peshawars to come.” What we must do at our end is to keep our schools safe from the trigger-happy maniacs, and at the same time, we must respect and appreciate the law enforcement officers, who are putting their own lives in danger by protecting the neighborhoods of our beloved country. Of course, tragic events do take place where innocent Americans are killed; nevertheless, it remains our civic duty to settle any disputes in a most civilized manner. Remember, we are a country governed by constitutional laws and not by a bunch of outlaws. .

My fellow Americans, what more can I add, except to express my sorrow about the country which I care for and deeply love. Crossing “Walt Whitman Bridge while travelling reminds me not only of “Dead Poets Society, but also of my favorite actor, Robin Williams. It is next to impossible for a hopeless romantic like me to forget the wording from the wonderful song, “Country Roads, “drivin’ down the road, I get a feelin’ that I should have been home yesterday.” Sadly, the yesteryears are gone. The biggest challenge for the proud Americans who do not belong to the “Hate America Club, is to bring back the golden days of American history. I am afraid that the only solace we have is to at least be proud about the legendary American poets, actors and singers who are no longer with us and have vastly contributed in influencing the human civilization about “The Wisdom of Life.

“O past! O happy life! O songs of Joy
In the air, in the woods, over fields.
Loved ! loved! loved! loved! loved!
But my mate no more, no more with me!
We two together no more.

Robin Williams was enormously talented by the grace of God. There is far too much to learn from the roles which he played during his marvelous acting career. Robin Williams will always remain a legendary figure in the world. Two of the most adorable characters which he played are John Keating and Dr. Hunter “Patch” Adams. The crucial lessons of the two movies, “Dead Poets Society” and “Patch Adams, can be appropriately summed up by quoting two vital thoughts of Norman Cousins as follows:

Nothing is more powerful than an individual acting out of his conscience to life.

The individual is capable of great compassion and great indifference. He has it
within his means to nourish the former and outgrow the later.

With “TEARDROP IN MY EYE, I, Mohammed Rafiq Lodhia, wholeheartedly agree with the heartfelt tribute on the YouTube link pertaining to the departure of John Keating (Robin Williams) from our beautiful Planet Earth. “Thank you, Robin … for making us laugh … for making us cry … for touching our souls. If all these YouTube videos attached do not move the hearts and bring tears to the eyes, then one can assume that the attitude of “Indifference has taken over our minds and the much needed “Compassionate Heartsare missing in action. May God rest Robin Williams’ soul in peace.

A - Robin

Finally, my sincere advice to all of my countrymen is to “Learn How To Cry. Crying nourishes our souls and makes us feel like humans again. More importantly, be mindful that “the powerful play goes on, and you may contribute a verse. What will your verse be? We humans have been bestowed with “A Spark of Divinity, by God. Therefore,  every once in a while, we must quite seriously consider what Walt Whitman taught us: “I sound my ‘BARBARIC YAWP over the rooftops of the world.” Why not? Well then, let us spread the message of none other than Walt Whitman and Robin Williams to humankind from wherever and whenever we can. Silence is not an option. We must learn to speak our minds to protest against those who are out to tear apart the social fabric of the American society. Better yet, as Americans, we must never forget, Walt Whitman’s godly wisdom as follows:

“I see something of God each hour of the twenty-four and each moment then.

In the faces of men and women I see God, and in my own face in the glass.

I find letters from God drops in the street and everyone is signed by God’s name.

May the New Year bring to you and your beloved family, health, happiness and prosperity is the sincere wish of your American Muslim friend.

God bless the United States of America and its honorable citizens.

Very affectionately yours,

Mohammed Rafiq Lodhia



December 26, 2014

The weaponisation of schooling is not just a Middle East story. The bloodstains of the slaughtered at Sandy Hook elementary school in Connecticut had barely been scrubbed away before Wayne LaPierre, executive vice-president of the National Rifle Association — before which almost every American politician genuflects — opined that the problem with America’s schools was the absence of guns. Arm teachers, instruct them to blaze away at an incoming lunatic, let the bullets fly over the heads of cowering nine-year-olds and the bad guys will drop before they can do harm — despite the fact that the 1999 massacre at Columbine, Colorado, happened at a school with an armed guard. This is yet another instance of the classroom as an extension of the nightmares of the adult world rather than a sanctuary.

It has grown worse. The attempted murder of Malala Yousafzai on a school bus; the abduction and forced conversion of the girls of Chibok in northern Nigeria by Boko Haram, those warriors for ignorance; the sexual enslavement of Yazidi girls by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, or Isis; and finally the Peshawar bloodbath — all are different in kind from the victimisation of children in other kinds of conflict.

They arise from an all-out war on education itself, especially of girls. The aim is to take girls as sexual property, mutilated, masked, kept in domestic serfdom and captive ignorance for the rest of their days. And of course the jailers and murderers of children are right to be frightened of free and curious minds brought to flower by devoted teaching since they threaten the tyranny — physical, intellectual and spiritual — that presumptuously self-described Islamist jihadis impose on their terrorised populations.

Simon Michael Schama, CBE (born 13 February 1945) is an English historian specialising in art history, Dutch history, and French history. He is a University Professor of History and Art History at Columbia University, New York.[2] He first came to popular public attention with his history of the French Revolution titled Citizens, published in 1989.[2] In the United Kingdom, he is perhaps best known for writing and hosting the 15-part BBC television documentary series A History of Britain broadcast between 2000 and 2002.


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