From: Mohammed Rafiq Lodhia
To: My Fellow Muslims
Subject: MOTHERS OF HUMANITY
Dated: January 1, 2005
My Fellow Americans,
A sparkling statement, “Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested,” by Francis Bacon, an English philosopher, essayist, and statesman was neatly printed in “A Book of Books,” consisting of fifty-two elegant black-and-white pictures by Abelardo Morell, one of the world’s renowned photographers.
An enlightened American sage of Concord named Ralph Waldo Emerson once eloquently stated a couple of sentences about the importance of a good book as follows:
“A good book is like the Ancient Mariner who can tell his tale only to
a few men destined to hear it. It passes by thousands and thousands
but when it finds a true reader it enters into him as a new soul.”
Emerson’s six “Representative Men,” consisted of – Plato: or, the Philosopher; Swedenborg: or, the Mystic; Montaigne: or, the Skeptic; Shakespeare: or, the Poet; Napoleon: or, the Man of the world and Goethe: or, the Writer. “Nature” he wrote, “never sends a great man into the planet without confiding the secret to another soul,” and compare this quote to Jane Austen, an English novelist, who wrote six great novels, “History, real solemn history, I cannot be interested in ……. the quarrels of popes and kings with wars or pestilences in every page; the men all so good for nothing and hardly any women at all.”
Hats off to Abelardo Morell for selecting this quote of Jane Austen in his book. Little wonder that our human civilization has long been imbalanced as men rule the world without making good use of women’s wisdom. Billions, millions and thousands of pages will help open our minds that a few women have contributed to the benefit of mankind; two such great women of the 20th century were Mother Teresa, a Nobel Laureate who cared for the poor, clothed the naked and ministered the lepers; and Eleanor Roosevelt, a beautiful human being and the wife of President Franklin D. Roosevelt who walked the slums and ghettos of the world and also cared for millions of Americans. “You ask me, what is civilization? I reply: it is the power of good women.” Of course, another one of the worldly wisdom of an all-American scholar, Ralph Waldo Emerson.
In a book titled “The American Way of Life,” Ashley Montagu, born Israel Ehrenberg in East London in 1905 was a highly respected anthropologist and social biologist who dedicated his entire life fighting against discrimination of the handicapped, women and minorities, wrote as follows:
“Women have great gifts to bring to the world of men: the qualities of love,
compassion and humanity. It is the function of women to humanize, since
women are the natural mothers of humanity. Women are by nature
endowed with the most important of all adaptive traits – the capacity to
love – and this it is their principal function to teach men. There can be no
more important function. It could be wished that both men and women
understood this. Once women know this, they will realize that no man can
ever play as important a role in the life of humanity as a mentally healthy
woman. By mental health, I mean the ability to love and the ability to work.
Being a good wife, a good mother, in short, a good homemaker, is the most
important of all occupations in the world.”
We Americans as well as our fellow humans around the world have been through an emotional period during the past year by witnessing the massacre of the children of Beslan; an act of barbarism, the suicide bombing of Iraqis and their children; an act of insanity, and not to mention, the Arab and Israeli children as always caught in the crossfires; an act of hatred. All such evil and deplorable acts are triggered by men, therefore, it is high time to refresh our approach towards such an inhumane nightmare by seeking “Motherly Wisdom.” Yes, it exists on a white page with a black ink carrying a wisdom of none other than Mother Teresa, “We do not need guns and bombs to bring peace, we need love and compassion. Let us radiate the peace of God and so light His light and extinguish all hatred and love of power in the world and in the hearts of all men.”
Mother Nature struck recently taking the lives of many children in Southeast Asia, whereas, Father Terror, Osama Bin Laden was on Al-Jazeera network simultaneously doing what he does best, that is, threatening decent Iraqi people and instigating yet another round of violence. In spite of all the natural and man-made disasters, a recent USA Today editorial rightly summed it up as, “Compassion is even trumping age-old conflicts. Pakistan offered assistance to India, it’s nuclear rival. Leaders of an Indonesian separatist group declared a unilateral cease-fire … But it is a reminder that in the rare moments when we tap our common humanity, we unleash a force that rivals the power of nature.” Unfortunately, Bin Laden and his wicked and savage henchmen are routinely defying Almighty God’s laws and can only be stopped by persistent armed intervention or else the civilized world will be doomed.
We Americans lost two larger than life heroes in the year 2004; our beloved President Ronald Wilson Reagan, and the fame actor, Christopher Reeve. A great “Communicator” was on the world stage tirelessly working to secure freedom for many nations, whereas, “Superman” was on the movie screen relentlessly fighting for truth, justice, and the American way. In the world dominated by men, we must not forget the most inspiring person of the year as selected by “belief.net.”
Margaret Hassan, a human rights defender haunted by Iraqi’s children whom she called the children of the embargo “the lost generation.” As an American Muslim, I am profoundly saddened by her brutal death and do find comfort in “A Prayer For Margaret Hassan.”
One thing for sure, a severe lack of true heroes and genuine scholars in the Islamic world has made my fellow Muslims forget a famous verse of the Holy Quran in chapter Thunder as, “God will not change the condition of a people until they change what is in their hearts.”
Reflections and resolutions is what New Year Day is all about. Henceforth, my fellow Americans we need to reflect and ponder over a couple of “Letters of the Century” edited by Lisa Grunwald and Stephen J. Adler to help us comprehend that Almighty God did create a magnificent and balanced world in “Pairs.” Men and women both must play their respective roles in life in order to maintain peace and harmony on this planet Earth. An expectant mother and a struggling housewife’s letter to Eleanor Roosevelt dated January 2, 1935 along with a letter of George C. Marshall, U.S. Army Chief of Staff, to a young Herby Funston dated February 2, 1944 will apprise us to the world of compassion and war. Even in an autobiographical notebook, entitled “Human Options,” Norman Cousins, a former editor of the Saturday Review honestly admits to his learning a great deal of human graciousness and compassion from Eleanor Roosevelt. Simply put, MOTHERS OF HUMANITY must come to the rescue of mankind and it should be the first and foremost New Year’s resolution.
Truly, the United States of America is without doubt a most compassionate and philanthropic country in the world. Many are admirers and many are envious, nonetheless, as a humble and proud American citizen driving on I-85, I spotted a truck with a sign reading, “Smile America! God Loves You” with my left eye, and with my right eye, I glanced at a billboard of Mother Teresa, “Compassion – Pass It On.” We are all Americans, whether we are Republicans or Democrats, either living in red or blue states. The common yarn that weaves our great society’s fabric consists of compassion in the warp and humility in the weft. To those who hate America, I can only convey Emerson’s words of wisdom, “If we live truly, we shall see truly.”
Mother Teresa once said, “God is the friend of silence,” therefore, let us all pray in silence without any noise and restlessness to the living and loving God to help Mothers; be they in Afghanistan, Iraq, Israel, Palestine, and Sudan to protect and save their children from the misery of war, strife, hatred, chaos and turmoil. We must also remember to pray for the tsunami victims and their loved ones who got swept away by a wall of water. This humble and compassionate American and his family extend to you and your family best wishes for a peaceful, healthy and prosperous New Year with a parting remark extracted from a farewell address to the nation (January 11, 1989) by my hero, President Ronald Wilson Reagan (May God rest his soul in peace) as follows:
“I’m warning of an eradication of the American memory that could
result, ultimately, in an erosion of the American spirit. Let’s start
with some basics: more attention to American history and a greater
emphasis on civic ritual. And let me offer lesson number one about
America: All great change in America begins at the dinner table. So,
tomorrow night in the kitchen I hope the talking begins. And children,
if your parents haven’t been teaching you what it means to be an
American, let ’em know and nail ’em on it. That would be a very
American thing to do.”
May God bless you and your beloved family members and our beloved country.
Very truly yours,
Mohammed Rafiq Lodhia
A society becomes explosive when the poor feel they have no friends in the high places. Eleanor Roosevelt filled the role of personal friend for millions of Americans who needed an outlet for their hurts. She couldn’t reshape society; she couldn’t eradicate the squalor; she couldn’t change the color of people’s skins. But she was able to exert vast influence inside the government. She was never oblivious of the power that went with being the wife of the President. The heads of government departments could expect a weekly barrage from Mrs. Roosevelt, asking them to look into this or that special situation, or to take this or that initiative. She must have received at least a thousand letters a week – an expectant mother who didn’t know where to go for the birth of her baby; a coal miner who had a bad heart but who couldn’t afford to stop working; a black professor who had an idea for establishing a recreational center for small children of needy families; and so on, endlessly. Not a single request went unanswered. Not always did the applicants get exactly the kind of help they sought, but no one had the feeling he or she was ignored. Most of all, everyone knew she cared. She was the national conscience and gave character to the entire society. People – unfeeling, unthinking people – sometimes made jokes about her looks. She gave cartoonists an easy time: large, protruding teeth, oversized mouth, sloping chin. But everyone who knew her – everyone who saw her – knew they had never seen a more beautiful human being. From her I learned a great deal about the power of HUMAN GRACIOUSNESS and compassion.
Excerpts from a book: HUMAN OPTIONS
Author: Norman Cousins
Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company,Inc. (1981)
AN EXPECTANT MOTHER TO ELEANOR ROOSEVELT
January 2, 1935 – Troy, New York
Dear Mrs. Roosevelt,
About a month ago I wrote you asking if you would buy some baby clothes for me with the understanding that I was to repay you as soon as my husband got enough work. Several weeks later I received a reply to apply to a Welfare Association so I might receive the aid I needed. Do you remember?
Please Mrs. Roosevelt, I do not want charity, only a chance from someone who can trust me until we can get enough money to repay the amount spent for the things I need. As a proof that I really am sincere, I am sending you two of my dearest possessions to keep as security, a ring my husband gave me before we were married, and a ring my mother used to wear. Perhaps the actual value of them is not high, but they are worth a lot to me. If you will consider buying the baby clothes, please keep them ( rings ) until I send you the money you spent. It is very hard to face bearing a baby we cannot afford to have, and the fact that it is due to arrive soon, and still there is no money for the hospital or clothing, does not make it any easier. I Have decided to stay home, keeping my 7 year old daughter from school to help the smaller children when my husband has work. The oldest little girl is sick now, and has never been strong, so I would not depend on her. The 7 year old is a good willing little worker and somehow we must manage – but without charity.
If you still feel you cannot trust me, it is allright and I can only say I donot blame you, but if you decide my word is worth anything with so small a security, here is a list of what I will need – but I will need it very soon.
2 shirts, silk and wool, size 2
3 pr. stockings, silk and wool, 4½ or 4
3 straight flannel bands
2 slips – outing flannel
2 muslim dresses
1 wool bonnet
2 pr. wool booties
2 doz. diapers 30 x 30 – or 27 x 27
1 large blanket ( baby ) about 45″ x 50″
3 outing flannel nightgaowns
If you will get these for me I would rather no one knew about it. I promise to repay the cost of the layette as soon as possible. We will all be very grateful to you, and I will be more than happy.
GEORGE MARSHALL TO HERBY FUNSTON
February 2, 1944
My Dear Herby,
I like your letter, the fact that you want to do your full part in licking these Japs, and that you are training every day to prepare to serve the country as a soldier. It is true ” that selling and buying bonds and stamps and salvaging is fighting a war. ” These things must be done, so somebody must do them and that seems to be your duty at the present time. But I sympathize with you in your desire to avenge the “nice kid” from your town who became a prisoner in the Philippines.
Be patient and don’t give up the effort you are now making, but I must confess to you that it makes me sad as well as very angry to think that these Japs and Nazis have brought us to such a pass that fine, clean young boys like you must be thinking of killing men, of machine guns, bombs and other deadly tools of war. We are in the terrible business of straightening out this demoralized world so that you and your friends and millions of boys and girls like you may think more of kindness than of death and hatreds and may live useful lives in a peaceful world. But today your older brothers and your fathers and cousins need your backing at home every day of the week.
George C. Marshall