Monday, December 31, 2007

It is time to learn from the mistakes that were made by those who came before us

Let there be no doubt, I love my country and all that it has to offer. My country being of course my adopted homeland, the United States of America. However, I am concerned and I want to warn my fellow citizens; look out. There lurks something unsavory amongst us and it is getting stronger.

I was not always an American; I was born in Pakistan. Same as with religion, the Pakistani nationality is something with which I was encumbered upon birth; without me having any choice in the matter. And just like I did with my religion after I came to an age of reason, I shunned my Pakistani citizenship. I became godless and homeless at the same time.

Now that I have established a wonderful life in the US and am no longer without a place to hang my proverbial hat, I have grown very protective of my adopted home. I want to protect it at all costs; I don’t want my fellow citizens to make the same mistakes that the once great people of the Sub-Continent made.

The years that I spent reciting prayers of my former religion and singing Pak Sur Zameen were not a complete waste. I learned a lot; as Joyce said “mistakes are portals of discovery”. I made a lot of mistakes and consequently discovered a lot; even discovered the meaning of life; yes I did. More on that later.

So, what did I learn and what is mistake which I see my fellow citizens making? What am I trying to preach against from my mound?

I love the Bayou country. The food, the people, the lazy atmosphere, the culture, the fantastic accent, the music, the spices, the tastes, the architecture, the everything. The houses by the river remind of flamingos; brightly colored and standing on stilts. All their bulk and feathers and beaks supported by tall, thin, strong, proud poles; poles that make sure that the bird is always above all the mud and muck and danger underneath. Societies are like that too.

In Pakistan, I learned that the tall, thin, strong, proud people always support the bulk and feathers of a chosen few. Why do they do it? Is it because the poles are not intelligent? Not at all. Then what motivates them to become the bulk carriers? That is the billion, trillion, zillion dollar question; the chosen few are always looking for new answers; you see, they like being propped up.

Historically, the bulk carries have been motivated by some combination of fear and reward. They have always carried the chosen few and protected them from the muck and mud and dangers that came along. They have been the expendable, the sacrificial, the fungible. Their rewards and fears have come in two flavors; divine and mortal.

Somewhere along the way, the bright, the chosen, the intelligent, the privileged discovered that the combination of divine and mortal fear, mixed with a little reward, makes for a particularly intoxicating combination to control the behavior and attitude of the poles of the society. The fear quenches any disgruntlement that arises when the burden gets too heavy; the occasional reward makes for a nice and inexpensive token of false appreciation; especially inexpensive as the burden bearers are the ones feeding the coffers from which the material rewards are dolled out. The big reward, salvation, of course is free to distribute.

A historical while later, the bright, chosen, the intelligent, the privileged found one more inebriating ingredient for the recipe of ultimate pole control; nationalism. So for those of you keeping count we now have fear of king, fear of god and love of country keeping the poles steady as they hold up the bulk and feathers and beaks of the society.

Thus the dynasties were born; and the religions and the countries. The tall, the thin, the strong, the proud have since carried the bulk, the feathers, the beaks for the fear of king, fear of god and love country.

The founding fathers of my adopted country were keenly aware of this intoxicating and inebriating cocktail of submission and control. Jefferson wrote “History, I believe, furnishes no example of a priest-ridden people maintaining a free civil government. This marks the lowest grade of ignorance of which their civil as well as religious leaders will always avail themselves for their own purposes”.

So why am I on the mound today? I see this great county of mine making the same mistakes that the people of the Land of the Pure, Pakistan made; they are drinking the Kool-Aid dispensed by the religious leaders; their tongues are turning purple; they are seeking salvation and finding it through those who want to be propped up for personal and political gains.

The Talibaniasation of this great country of mine is accelerating. Everyday I meet people, educated people, people who have been judged to have analytical skills by colleges and universities, people who have the mental capacity to reason, people who should know better, and I see that they have tasted, enjoyed, loved and devoured the purple Kool-Aid from the god peddlers. They don’t believe in evolution of species; they feel that they are superior than other beasts; they believe that they are entitled to heaven and its rewards while the others who lack believes in toothfairies or Santa or Jesus or Moses or Mohammad are doomed to burn in hell. Why this horrible fate? Because the compassionate and merciful god said so.

Now I see presidential candidates tripping all over themselves trying to prove to the public that they are more religious than the other choices; that they worship the right god; that their heaven is not in Missouri but is in the sky; that their decisions are not guided by human reason and human compassions but by divine reason and divine compassion. The same divine compassion that will burn humans in hell in perpetuity if they fail to mumble the exact magic words that the merciful and compassionate god wants them to mumble.

This is the exact same phenomenon which I witnessed in Pakistan 22 years ago. Look at Pakistan now; broken; dysfunctional; marching proudly towards the dark ages. Praise the lord, his will is done; kids are dying; women are raped; men are killed; salvation is attained.

It is time to learn from the mistakes that were made by those who came before us.

People, my fellow citizens, learn from the mistakes of my former country and my forefathers. Don’t prop up the bulk, the feathers, the beaks of the elite even if they are asking you to do for the love of god. Bo proud that you are humans; be proud that you have intellect; be proud that you can reason; be proud that you are evolved; be proud that you live is a country where you don’t have to believe in the toothfairy or Santa or god.

You only have one life; live it for the betterment of your kids, your country and humanity. As for that elusive meaning of life, Homer said it long time ago, even before we invented most religions:

Insignificant mortals, who are as leaves are,
and now flourish and grow warm with life,
and feed on what the ground gives,
but then again fade away and are dead.

Remember, greatness comes from your deeds; it is not bestowed by toothfairies or Santa or god.

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