Tuesday, May 22, 2007

America the Noble 02-09-23

America the Noble

Mirza A. Beg

Written on Sept. 23, 2002
Commentary on APR, Wednesday Oct. 23, 2001

The dust has settled from the ignoble blasts of September 11th. It has only partly settled, at least in the political and global terms. How our leaders conduct themselves in the struggle to wipe out terrorism is yet to unfold.

Two noble traits of the American character have been reaffirmed. Not that we had any doubts about them but a tragedy of this proportion, biblical proportion, sets them in stark contrast to the evil. One, we do have true heroes, and second, Americans are a decent and fair people.

The fire-fighters and the rescue workers were going in when people were running out from an about to collapse inferno. The collapse of the first tower would have been warning enough, but they continued to do their duty to the suffering humanity. They did not consider the race, religion or nationality of the people they were saving. They did not do it only because of duty, honor and country. They would have done it even if they were on another continent. They did it simply because it was good. They did it because it was right. They did it because they were truly human. The fire fighters belonged to different religions and races. At least one of the fire fighters at the Pentagon was a Muslim Arab American. The religious fire fighters in their hearts at least knew that there is a here after for them. Imagine the non-believer, in his mind he went to nothingness, but he too did it because it was good, it was right, it was human.

Some day, some where there will be a monument to the rescue workers and the fire fighters but there already are more than 270 million monuments to them in each American heart. There will be a loftier reason for children to wear a fire-fighters hat in their pretend games. To paraphrase the Qur’an, the terrorists tried to kill the humanity by killing innocent people, the fire fighters and the rescue workers redeemed and saved the humanity by saving innocent people.

In this era of spectator sports and entertainment personalities the definition of heroism had been debased and modified to pay homage to personalities from sports and tinsel town. The rescue workers and the fire fighters have helped the language and society to reclaim the word hero to its proper definition.

The heroism of the fire fighters and the rescue workers is the stuff of which legends are made. But the average American showed heroism of character and belief by defending the principles of our national creed and the sublime piety that wells up when we see injustice heaped on a few whom we may not even know.

Few begets waiting in the wood-works for an opportunity to revel in their putrid hate emerged from their dark recesses. Three people were killed in far-flung places in this vast land. At least one can definitely be classed as hate related. In California, Texas and New York some Masjids (Mosques) were disfigured in the shadow of the night. People with evil in their hearts may have thought that they will attract more of their kind. They were disappointed to find that there are not many like them. Overwhelming majority of Americans were appalled and tried to make amends the best they could. They visited Masjids, apologizing for the misdeeds of a miniscule few; a few out of approximately 270 million. People brought flowers, wrote cards and condemned the acts of bigotry.

There are reports from Chicago, Seattle and many other places that people in true Christian spirit have taken up round the clock vigil to ensure the safety of Masjids. In Minnesota some Churches have offered their premises to Muslims to pray in safety. There are female volunteers to escort Muslim women wearing scarves to go about their daily chores outside their homes.

There has been one act of bigotry in Tuscaloosa and tens of thousands acts of kindness, neighborliness and friendship. Some of the students at the University were scared for a day or two but the outpouring of support from the university and the community has replaced fear with friendship. Veterans of foreign wars have offered to show the flag if needed, to ward off any lurking miscreants. Police has taken special care to safeguard property.

The United States celebrates freedom, individualism and equality of opportunity. It guaranties freedom of religion, and freedom from religion. In this country of immigrants, no matter from where in the world you come, you can call it home. This is my home.

Mirza A. Beg welcomes your comments at mab64@yahoo.com

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