Monday, May 21, 2007

Greetings for 2004 03-12-09

A wish for the Year 2004

Mirza A. Beg
Written, December 9, 2003
Birmingham News, Sunday, December 28th, 2003
Tuscaloosa News, Sunday, December 28th, 2003
Birmingham Post-Herald, Monday, December 29th, 2003

This is a festive time of the year. With all the disheartening news from around the world, people who can afford to find refuge in this season of festivities.

In November, Hindus celebrated Divali, the festival of lights. Muslims celebrated Eid, to offer thanks after fasting for the month of Ramadhan. Thanksgiving is a secular feast. Jews celebrate Chanukah, and the Christians have celebrated Christmas, followed by the hope of renewal in the New Year, 2004.

These are festive occasions to be with the family. Most involve giving gifts, to each other, to loved ones and cherished friends.

One cannot help but be reminded that at the birth of this nascent New Year in the new fledgling century that a majority of the world’s inhabitants do not have enough to eat to sustain themselves. A majority suffers from paucity of food and rudimentary housing.

The order of the nature’s design of birth, childhood, maturity, old age and death is inverted in many parts of the world; the children die before the eyes of the helpless and hapless parents. Unfortunately, at the dawn of the 21st century, we still accept these realities as part of nature.

As if the vagaries of nature were not enough, humans add to that burden many fold, though they have the where with all and are capable of ameliorating it. The wars are raging in Chechnya, the Middle East, Kashmir, Southern Philippines, Aceh in Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Iraq and Afghanistan. There are a million indignities heaped by the politically and militarily strong over the weak. Powerful wield the megaphone of access to the media, while the millions in Africa, Latin America and Asia suffer in “sound-proofed chambers" of neglect.

The continual din of loud barren pronouncements by self-serving world leaders drowns out the quiet, humane, selfless work done by thousands of decent human beings to wipe some tears, to put food in a hungry mouth and to tend to sick with no access to medical help. Yes, there are many who have worked tirelessly to wipe the tears of others simply because it was the right thing to do. Because they could not help but give more than expected. In many cases their lives.

Among the thousands of conscience-keepers of the world, a few names did emerge in the news, indelibly written across the year 2003. Martha Myers of Alabama, William Koehn and Donald Caswell of Texas, Kathleen Gariety of Wisconsin gave their lives targeted by the terrorists bullets serving the needy in Yemen. Rachel Corrie of Washington State died under the bulldozer shielding from demolition the homes of destitute Palestinians. Nameless Iraqi doctors and nurses cared for Jessica Lynch at a grave risk to their own lives. Dr. Hameed, chairman of Cipla drugs from India, shamed the Western drug producers into letting him mass produce the AIDS drugs for the world’s poor at cost, bringing the cost down from $12,000 to $140 per patient per year.

Most people pray for whatever they consider important. All decent people pray for peace and good will. Some invent a sectarian God to play favorites in their petty wars and pray to win. These prayers are almost as old as the human race. Oppressed pray for the defeat of the oppressor and, in time, adopt the same traits and oppress others.

It is time for a different prayer:

May the meek find the strength of pride!

May the arrogant taste humility!

May the oppressed find the strength to rebel!

May the oppressor suffer the pain of deprivation!

May the weak find inner strength!

May the strong find the grace to protect the week!

May those who have a lot find satiation!

May the destitute find dignity of being!

And may all of us find friends that care.

Mirza A. Beg can be contacted at

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