The Union And The Confederacy – North And South

Good Friday morning!

I thought the hysteria surrounding ‘the statues’ gripping the nation would dissipate. But it seems to be picking up steam, instead.

So, now we’re talking about changing the name of historic Faneuil Hall in Boston. Because back in seventeen hundred and something or other, one mister Peter Faneuil, whoever he was, owned slaves.

This sudden idea of removing all confederacy symbols is liberal hysteria gone amok.

There is a movement in India, thankfully a tepid one for now, to diminish the stature of Mohandas Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru from the public space. They were ‘too British’, attended Oxford, and were not ‘Indian’ enough. And I guess Gandhi beat his wife once. There’s conversation regarding the removal of Gandhi’s face from the Indian Rupee notes.

Come on. On Gandhi’s tiny shoulders, stands the expansive Republic Of India.

A diminutive man from a rural fishing village on the Western Indian Coast, MKG, stood down an empire, with just the highest moral certitude as his compass, and an utterly devout faith as his guide.

The one who declared, “we have come four hundred years with the British, and when they leave, I want us to be friends”, (and we are), needs to remain where he is. As the Father Of The Nation.

Heck, there’s a statue of him in the town of Sherborn, Massachusetts.

I, for one, (don’t yell at me!) am of the opinion that colonialism was good for India. The Portuguese, The Dutch, The French, and finally The British. The most extensive railway in all of Asia aside, who can forget the Rosario’s Bakery in Kottayam? 😊

My life in America is the purposeful result of the twin documents, The Declaration Of Independence and The US Constitution.

The men who penned them should be revered, not vilified for their shortcomings. Slaveholders or not.

Superior intellect of a man, Thomas Jefferson, who affirmed that God has endowed each of us with the right to pursue our own brand of happiness, should get his own pedestal.

General George Washington, who led his troops against the same mighty Empire where the sun never set, and won a revolution, should get our esteemed affection.

We cannot and must not re-write history to suit the current winds.

The documents these men wrote are living ones. So even as Thomas Jefferson wrote, ‘all men are created equal’, in time (a long time, perhaps), it was amended to mean, ‘all men and women’.

What does it all have to do with our daily grind?

Just a quick reading of a sliver of The Constitution affirms that, in order for a policeman to enter our homestead, he needs to carry a search warrant issued by a judge.

This brilliant concept arose in 1215, the year the Magna Carta was written.

In those ways and days of the English monarchs, All The King’s Men could barge into any home, at any time, and do whatever that pleased them.

Jefferson in his infinite wisdom, wanted to assure that the common man was protected against this sort of blatant tyranny.

It’s a historical fact that TJ almost wrote ‘property’ instead of ‘liberty’ in the famed lyrics, ‘Life, Liberty, And The Pursuit Of Happiness’.

He declared ‘A man Is The King Of His Castle’, that no one can encroach upon.

We once had a neighbor, the most wonderful kind, Peter Olsen. He had a little girl who’d have to take the school bus every day to the Peter Noyes Elementary, from right in front of our house.

One day, before Courtney started school, Beth Olsen walked over to our house, and literally asked for our permission for Courtney to cut clear across our yard to the bus stop, instead of walking on the well-trafficked Pelham Island Road. A courteous gesture, I’ll never forget.

All extra-ordinarily gifted and men and women come with serious flaws in their character, blemishes in direct proportion to their genius.

‘Shakespearean Flaws’ is the nomenclature for it. Shakespeare’s Hamlet was such a character. And The Bard studied, knew and predicted human behavior to a T.

Or as Isaac newton would say, ‘For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction’. 😉

Maurya Dynasty’s Samrat Ashoka, the grandest emperor of the ancient Indian Subcontinent, who planted shade trees and erected load-easing edifices along weary travelers’ roadways in BC 250, is known to have killed countless numbers of people in war, before he had an ‘Apostle Paul-like’ conversion and found Dharma Margam.

King David committed the most egregious sin against man and God, and Jews celebrate him as the most luminous King Of Judah ever lived.

Biblical Patriarch Abraham kept slaves, and yet he’s called the Father of three major world religions.

And Moses, the first and the original law-giver in human history, killed someone. The claim was self-defense.

All of them fulfilling God’s plan on earth at precise times and places.

We must most certainly keep their place in history, and in the place where their influence was most indelibly felt.

I personally couldn’t care less about General Robert E. Lee, or Stonewall Jackson (whoever he was). Their statues can serve as reminders of what we should never be. May be we can put a tarpaulin over their heads.

Let us look at it this way.

There, if you go to Auschwitz in Poland, you can find certain old buildings. And if you can muster up the fortitude to walk into one of them, you can see with your own eyes, the spot that housed The Crematoriums, the crucible of Hitler’s evil experiment called The Final Solution. And if Adolph Eichman had attended Sunday school, or had attended one of Sam Achen’s bible studies, he’d have known that, just like the Burning Bush from where God spoke to Moses on top of the Sinai, the Jews may burn, but will never be destroyed.

If the Jews have managed to keep these killing machines on display all these years, to remind us of the atrocity against humanity that took place right behind the eyes of the world, there is a lesson there.

I don’t think many Jews make the pilgrimage there. But then again, they just might want to.

There’s no sane way to defend Mr. Trump’s words or deeds. But for the purpose of this piece, let’s take him out of the equation.

Some Princeton University students recently appealed to authorities there, to take down Woodrow Wilson’s name from their International Studies School. I wonder what poor Woodrow was guilty of!

Next it’ll be taking down Fletcher out of the School Of Diplomacy at Tufts. I hope Fletcher didn’t own slaves. Who was Fletcher anyway?

The point I’m arriving at is: There may not be an end point.

Coming back to the point however: history is a teaching tool, as well as an inspirational one. We can keep it alive without re-living it.

Are you still with me? 😂 if you are, please say a ‘prayer for us, as we take wings’ to Atlanta tonight. (and let me know if you do).

wish you a sunny summer weekend…

mercy

 

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The Kentucky Clerk And The US Constitution

The Kentucky clerk is back in the news, which is unfortunate for her and for us.

The media come up with these catch names for the characters of their stories, such as ‘Kennedy cousin’, ‘Arizona shooter’, the NY prison worker, and so on, in lieu of their real names. If i said, Kim Davis, you’ll say, Kim who? so, she’s now refusing to claim the licenses are being issued by her office, thus making it invalid or something like it.

Now, i do appreciate this woman’s Christian fervor. I really do. But it seems that she missed a pertinent part of her high school civics class. It must have been the day she was out with the flu, or else she’d have clearly known that the US constitution is the supreme law of the land. Any religious governance is subservient to that. Her church’s cannons cannot supersede what the Supremes have decided. She doesn’t have to like it, she just has to obey.

This brings me to a number of years ago, to the day i proudly appeared for the interview process, as part of my application to become a US citizen. As many, or all of you may know, there is a guide book you can study, to ace the interview. My husband had gone through the process a few years prior, but when the time came, in my know-it-all fashion :), I declared I didn’t need this book. ‘hah! I know all about US history, geography and the political process.’ He kept urging me to at least read the book once to be aware of what kind of questions will be asked. Sad to admit, I’m not typically known for my obedience 😦 , so I went to Boston’s Government Center, without so much as ever glancing at the book. Frankly, in my own defense, I expected questions of the sort, ‘who was our first president’, ‘where is the US capital’, etc.

So, this guy who was interviewing me, assessed rather early in the game, that I was being a ‘smart alec’ and proceeded to one-up me, and started asking ‘secondary’ questions to, I’m sure, trip me up.

He asked: what is the constitution?

Me: it is the law of the land.

Interviewer: what kind of law?

I was thinking to myself, (but didn’t say it out loud): is there more than one kind?

Interviewer: what is the qualifying part of it?

Me: silence. what?

I was miffed. We’re allowed one or two (max) wrong answers, and he was determined to catch me on this one. And, to his delight, I simply didn’t know. Then he ‘smart-aleced’ me back and said: you should know, it is the ‘supreme’ law of the land. He almost gave me a mischievous look that seemed to suggest that I failed. But then he found some mercy(!) deep in his inner being and let me go. He may as well not have wanted to deal with me one more time. 🙂

So for the law: the word ‘supreme’ covers it all. I had known the gist of that even before, but this episode with the astute government clerk, who didn’t want to let me off the hook that easily, cemented it for me, and it has stuck. The courts will always try to stay out of thorny situations, but if someone decided to bring a lawsuit, the rulings will have to side with the law.

Which brings me to a more current story. Recently, a Muslim woman filed a lawsuit against a budget airline, that she couldn’t and wouldn’t serve alcohol to passengers in flight, because it was against her religion. Oh, brother. An obvious option for her in this case would have been to step aside from that job, and find something else to do. But, why choose the obvious option when you can pick the more contentious one, right?

This is America after all. Home of the brave, and land of the free money. God bless America.

So, she went to court to make the airline bend policy for her. Alas for us, airlines operate on minimum staff (for better or for worse), and if one purposely won’t perform her part of the job description, what is the option they’re left with?

I then found it astonishing, that the same folks who’re unhappy with the Kentucky clerk are the ones who thought the flight attendant had a case. No harm in a little double standard. right?! Freedom to practice one’s religion. The first amendment.

I know the government is not the same as a private employer, but the emotions, that precipitate out of these polarizing situations, are the same. I’m principally opposed to the death penalty. Only a God who created us in His image has the right to take it away. But do I think the courts should make it illegal based on the pope’s exhortations? Probably not. However, the High Court’s clerks are welcome to comb through the law books to find some loophole by which the justices can put it in place. By all means, yes, and please do.

But Exodus 20:13 (Ahimsa), should not be the basis for the law. It can only, but certainly, guide our core values and our conscience.

Similarly, abortion is like adultery. bad, bad, bad. wrong, wrong, wrong. We should never commit it. But should we legislate it and make it illegal? I think not.

Hope you’re enjoying the wall-to-wall coverage of the Bishop of Rome. A twenty-first century man who resembles a first century Carpenter from Nazareth. may God go with him.

Happy Saturday… mercy

Border Insecurity and The Donald

Kunju,

Well, this one is tricky. Now, don’t just move to the conclusion that I’m a Trump fan.

It happened like this. when the media first reported that Trump may run for the 2016 election, I was like, ‘here we go again’. Remember, he had made the same attempt four years ago. Then when he actually announced, I went, ‘you’re kidding, right’?

At the juncture where, what he said to Megyn Kelly and about her, and especially what Megyn said what he had said to some apprentice contestant, all came out, is when I found it all beyond offensive, and rolled up the welcome mat from under him. He somehow didn’t slip.

If he had said those tired, old lines to anyone in my company, he’s the one who’d be ‘fired’.

Then it was like, wait a minute … to, well, now.

His first pronouncement about illegals and the way the media got on his case, I remember thinking, ‘he didn’t mean all immigrants, come on guys, he was talking about illegals’. To me, the terms ‘undocumented immigrants’ (a term coined by the NY Times) and ‘illegal immigrants’ are the same. It only means that they crossed the border illegally to come here.

Now, someone is going to yell at me and say, we’re all immigrants, America is made up of immigrants, the first pilgrims were illegals, blah, blah, blah. It creates a good sound bite, but we all know that that’s not what we’re talking about here.

Just take the case of Mexico.

Now, no one from Washington has called and asked me to be part of a ‘think tank’ to find solutions to our border insecurity, but I’ll offer my valuable (or laughable?) ideas on how to stem the flow of illegals.

First, why don’t we export the American governing systems of free enterprise, law and order, and democracy, to Mexico, so that this country with enormous amounts of natural resources (human and earth), can become the envy of the Western Hemisphere? I’m well aware of the studied notion that, people similar to animals in the wild, go where the food supply is. In which case, why don’t we help them find food where they are? Like, teaching to fish, instead of giving fish, so to speak?

Second, dismantle ‘the Department of Customs and Border Protection’, and let people come and go as they please, kind of like, when I go to Connecticut and back. On my return, I’m greeted with a ‘Welcome to Massachusetts’ sign every time. 🙂

What’s the point of paying the feds top salaries to man the operation, and then claiming it to be inhumane, when they actually do their jobs? It’d be a blessing if we don’t have to stand in line after a 24-hour flight from kochi, anyway. kudos to the feds, once I got fined $25.00 for bringing in $2.00 worth of curry leaves. 😦 All the more reason to get rid of it. 🙂

Third,  don’t laugh, we can make Mexico our fifty-first state.

That way, no one will have to jump the ‘Trump Wall’. I know it sounds preposterous, but it is no more so, than providing for ‘anchor babies’ for life. The last two states were annexed in my lifetime. I remember when it went from 48 to 50. What’s one more? 🙂

Now, somebody has decided ‘anchor babies’ is a bad word. Oh, brother! This is how Trump gets traction.

Anyway, back to our friend, Mister Trump.

What’s so abominable about saying we should first hire ‘American’ citizens for American jobs, before we invite foreign nationals? Isn’t it the job of the president to take care of his citizens before he does the same for the rest of the world? He’s our president, not our pastor.

It costs an arm, and a leg, and then a house, and then some, (and no kidding!) to college-educate children in this country, in any discipline.

When all is done, and the kids and their sorry parents are out of exorbitant amounts of cash, they’re competing in the marketplace with young adults who did university for 1000 rupees, and who can then afford to take jobs at a lesser pay. See the vicious cycle? We’re talking about our kids here.

What about Sundar Pichai, Satya Nadella, and the parents of Vivek Murthy? you say. Oh, May be, we can make a special visa category for South Indian Brahmins, there is some sort of a pattern here, don’t you think? 🙂

Also, perhaps we can consider temporarily employing the folks on California’s unemployment payrolls, to pick grapes, so that the grapes don’t rot in the sun as somebody lamented?

Really, Trump is echoing commonly-felt concerns. People are tired of the P-C-ness, which is a just nicer word for disingenuousness, bordering on fakery. Vilifying Capitalism on the one hand, and allowing other nationals to seek jobs here on the other, is an extreme form of this. Claiming our democracy is not well-functioning, and then wanting to offer asylum to war-zone refugees is another.

It’s a novelty when a politician speaks the truth. Trump tells it like it is, in his world view. Folks are flocking to him for this reason and nothing else. In the end, they may not even vote for him.

Citizens are silenced into keeping mum for fear of being called heartless, homophobic, xenophobic, racist, nationalistic, un-Christian, and what not, by the dominant media, and the land that gave us the precious ‘right to freedom of expression’ is gradually chipping away at our ‘freedom to express’. The free press is stifling free speech. Not a good plan.

I don’t think Jesus would approve of all this name-calling.

As Christians, I realize we’re mandated to see that the least fortunate among us are taken care of, but somehow, I don’t think that includes rich Chinese women who give birth here to anchor their babies to the soil.

I would have said that ‘the Donald’ has the chance of a snowball in hell, to even get the party’s nomination, let alone win the national election, but, If he does, I’ll be concerned about how it appears to the world, to have a bellicose leader in the pattern of Hugo Chaves, as the leader of the free world. Even in death, Hugo is remembered for having said, ‘death to America’, and not for the free heating oil he provided to the needy of Dorchester, Massachusetts. When he died, president Obama eulogized him, by saying he’s glad Hugo has gone on to meet his Maker, and it couldn’t have happened any sooner, or something to that effect. Oh brother!

Nate silver is predicting that Donald won’t make it to the finish line. we’ll see. win or lose, he’ll have started ‘the Conversation’.

Regards to Susy and Happy Monday evening.

‘Time to buy’… and don’t sell…:)

mercy

The Second Amendment

kunju,

i’m with you, more or less. with a caveat.

if we solved racism altogether, if we removed all vestiges of the abomination that was slavery, and the confederate flag, if we had only loving homes and Christian teachings, if we somehow stopped terrorism dead on its feet, if we eliminated police over-reach, we’d still have the massacre of little children in a CT elementary school, the slaughter of movie-goers in a Colorado theater and in a columbine (CO) high school, we’d still have the Arizona mall shooting that killed a bunch and gravely injured a congresswoman.

The common denominator in all this is the gun: the lack of its control and the easy access to it.

Now, i have the utmost reverence for the United States constitution, and the founding fathers who constructed it in elegant prose. i agree it should not be changed at every whim. but we have amended it 27 times. before the 19th, i, as a woman, couldn’t vote.

So it’s time to revisit this idea of, ‘the right to bear arms’, which was written when the roaming outlaws could hurt the pioneers living on the frontier plains, and it was designed to give them the right to protect themselves and theirs from harm, and the word ‘militia’ is in there somewhere, too.

We have moved out from the wild west and the barren plains and advanced to strong laws and stricter policing, but a whole lot of crazies (sorry, i couldn’t think of a better word) are buying guns the same way i buy milk. and they can decide to snap at any time.

I’m with the president on this one. imagine that! he’s right, no advanced nation has this kind of mass killings from within. Europeans are appalled with this kind of gun proliferation, and miffed by our seeming inertia towards it. In a bit of irony, they hold dear the right to free speech the way Americans hold gun rights.

Having said all this, i have no idea how we’ll go about to bring change on this one, so that some day, simple folks studying the Holy Scripture in the peacefulness of a church sanctuary will go home to tell about it.

on a positive note, this time around, there is only ‘one side’ to this tragedy. no two sides as to who was in the right.

regards to Susy, and happy summer solstice…

mercy
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America, How Do I love Thee? Let Me Count The Ways!

I don’t know many of you in Kunju’s email chain, nevertheless I’m writing blindly, with the hope that you won’t use your ‘right to free speech’ and yell at me.

I am ‘center right’ on fiscal matters, but am pro gun control. The second amendment hasn’t found a space in the Indian-American psyche, I believe. I don’t ever want to touch a gun, let alone think that we should all own guns to protect ourselves from intruders.

Having got that sentiment out of the way, let me answer this one question posed by Minoo Verghese, the writer of this email.

‘Wonder why most of you preferred to settle in the so called “country of the brave and the free” – I’m guessing not for the freedom but for the moolah, whatever.

Let me count the ways. Why I love America and why I have chosen to stay here for close to half a century.

-For the rights, ‘endowed on us by our creator’ and embedded into our constitution by one of the greatest men ever lived, Thomas Jefferson – my ‘rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness’. If I get killed by a mad gunman tomorrow, my ‘right to life’ will have ended. So can it have ended traversing through some of the chaotic roads in Ernakulam.

-For the ‘Judeo-Christian’ principle that God created us all in His image, one that is at the bedrock of the ‘western’ value that all ‘men’, the rich and the destitute, have the same worth in the eyes of God and man. This translates to: if I had the misfortune of ending up at the MGH (arguably the world’s most premier hospital) tomorrow, I don’t have to have my nephew’s brother-in-law’s wife working there to get a single doctor to even shoot a glance in my direction. if one lowly among us is kidnapped across enemy lines, the 82nd airborne is dispatched to the rescue.

-My privilege to get up every morning, indulge in a hot shower (without water allocation), put on a fresh set of ‘LLBean’ clothes, and drive my own little Toyota Camry, and park in our $7B company’s parking lot with ease. my bosses are Bill and Matt, not ‘sir’.

-My right to not to have to bribe my way through the bureaucracy to renew my driver’s license.

-For a good glass of Merlot, a juicy hamburger, ‘Lenox’ fine bone china, Red Sox in August, Super Bowl in February, and movies with Brad Pitt (‘Moneyball’ comes to mind, if you haven’t seen it, please do).

-Where I can argue with my ‘bleeding-heart’ daughters and my friends on the merits of fiscal prudence.

-For not having to squirrel away my entire life savings and my inheritance, to see my three daughters married.

-For being able to go on a safari in Kenya, and to see ‘Mama Mia’ on Broadway while taking in the ‘Big Apple’.

-To be living in the only country in the world where i can drink municipal tap water.

When we bash ‘white people’ for all the ills of the world, accusing them of aiming to forcefully conform the whole world to the ‘American or European way’, please bear in mind, that it’s the same race that gave us William Shakespeare and ‘Hamlet’, Michelangelo and the ‘Sistine Chapel’, Henry Ford and the world’s first assembly line, the Wrights brothers and the jet airplane, Penicillin and 8-lane freeways, JFK and the ‘moonshot’, the steam engine, the wheel, Steve jobs and ‘Apple’, and surely, the Magna Carta which is the very source of the noble idea of ‘one man to one vote’ (democracy). And who can dismiss ‘Google’?

Need I go on with the names? Like Galileo, Magellan and Copernicus? Charles Darwin and Isaac Newton, and Thomas Edison?

In all fairness, would the ‘native’ Americans or this continent have been better off, if the ‘white man’ who gave us the ‘Declaration Of Independence’ and ‘The Bill Of Rights’, never set foot on its shores?

The ‘proof is in the pudding’, folks.
This country has been the last and the best hope of the earth, ever since a bunch of Anglo-Saxons settled in Jamestown, VA, and introduced the world to capitalism and free enterprise, and people all over the world haven’t stopped since, standing in ‘snake lines’, in scorching heat and blistering cold, in front of US consulates all over the globe, to get that coveted document called an American Visa. When the same happens in front of the Chinese, Indian, Ugandan and Lithuanian consulates, then we can claim they also have the same rights and opportunities, and desirable governments.

And to answer that first question by Minoo one further time, we may have all come here in pursuit of the two ‘Big Greens’, one with a picture of George Washington on it, and another in the size of a wallet card. but it’s undeniably the basic human rights that have pulled and kept us in.

Merry Christmas and a happy 2013, and
Peace On Earth..