The Always NotTheGun Problem

  • So you think making laws does not stop criminals from getting guns? Ok, so might as well stop making laws criminalizing murder and theft and hard drugs; laws for drinking and driving. No issues, I’m sure people will all show personal responsibility and safety and look to their own high morality to not steal, kill or sell drugs to children. Also, then let’s not hide behind a ‘law’ or 2nd amendment to keep a gun.


  • So you think guns don’t kill people, people kill people (or in cases lately, little school children). Ok, then let your toddler use knives, let him drink, let him smoke, let him drive. If you toddler cuts his hand once with the knife, you really shouldn’t take away the knife. If your teenage driver gets a DUI, don’t take away his car from him. IF your kids poisons his lungs with cigarettes, it’s really not the cigarette’s fault! Don’t restrict access!!


  • So you think that guns have been around forever and nobody should change or challenge your right to own a gun (automatic or otherwise). Ok, let’s go back to having lead in our paint, texting while driving, not wearing seatbelts, having viruses and bacteria thrive our drinking water, smoking when pregnant, smoking next to children. Absolutely no need to change lifestyle in face of proven data. What is 38000 gun deaths in US in 2016 …not a public health concern.


  • So you think it is a Not having God in schools issues? Ok, sign up all your kids for Sunday schools, no problem. OR even better, sit everyday with your children and pass on your ideas of God to them. Their religious upbringing is not the responsibility of a public school, it is solely yours and whatever Church /temple/ masjid / gurudwara (who also get a tax break) you follow. There is barely enough funding for arts, science, language and math. I’m sure you’d like to pitch in more with your taxes and your time in making sure there is God in your child’s life.


  • So you think it is the media’s fault and all the violent video games? Ok, then stop buying them for your children. But also, be prepared to throw away the gun you own. If you have a casual willingness to keep and use a weapon that can kill someone, it would be a little hypocritical to not let your child grow up thinking the same.


  • So you think it is that you need a gun to feel safe and secure and to defend yourself? Ok, stop your tax dollars from paying police officers whose only job is to make sure you are safe and secure. Infact they place their life in danger, daily to make sure you are safe, they’ll be happy to know you don’t need or trust them. Why waste all that tax money when you know you are a better shot than the average cop and certainly have better judgment and timing. However, keep in mind, majority of police officers wish you didn’t use a gun and trusted them to do their job.


  • So you think it is a mental health problem and not a gun problem? Ok, then stop electing people who will restrict access to health care and definitely stop people from cutting Medicaid benefits for people who don’t have a stable job or a home. Stop celebrating small tax cuts that take away funding from social services that are almost 85% government funded because private insurance is going to take ages and a lot more legislation before it finds a profitable way to “help” those who can’t afford the premium.


(And also, when you say ‘solve mental health’ – keep in mind, social workers and non-profit agencies everywhere will tell you, it takes years to collect data about the problem, understand it and then find a way to write a law that pleases both parties to enough to sign it. And it takes one executive order to rescind it – look at HR620 and how it will set back rights of people with disabilities, apparently to make business run smoother. Providing care for mental health as a public health problem will take months and years to shape and absolutely needs to happen but simultaneously wouldn’t it meanwhile make more sense to stop putting guns in hands of people who have mental challenges? Who benefited from rescinding bill signed by President Obama that strengthened need for background checks before buying firearms and block sale of firearms for people with certain mental issues? The government? You as a gun owner? NRA?)

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What should we do about healthcare? – ignore what actually is, call it terrible, rescind all things enacted in past 8 yrs irrespective of good or bad, pretend to strive for only and ONLY a perfect solution (for corporations), barring that, twiddle thumbs.

What should be do about climate change? – ignore what actually is, call it terrible, rescind all things enacted in last 8 yrs, irrespective of good or bad, pretend to strive for only and ONLY a perfect solution (for corporations), barring that, twiddle thumbs. 

What should we do about immigrants? Including dreamers? – ignore what actually is, call it terrible, rescind all things enacted in last 8 yrs, irrespective of good or bad, pretend to strive for only and ONLY a perfect solution (for corporations), barring that, twiddle thumbs.

What should be do about Trade?- ignore what actually is, call it terrible, rescind all things enacted in last 8 yrs, irrespective of good or bad, pretend to strive for only and ONLY a perfect solution (for corporations), barring that, twiddle thumbs.

Tax reform? Energy? Environment? Diplomacy? NASA? Technology? Mental Health? Equal Pay? Women’s rights? Police and race relations? North Korea? Europe? Middle East? – (you get the idea). (except ofcourse, hijack all the credit for improving economy and obliterate proof that it has been doing so for last couple years)

BUT – to be fair, invented problems have very prompt, detailed solutions, sans all the twiddling of the thumbs.  For eg:

What should we do about the blown out of proportion problem of ‘brown people’? – call them rapists, bad hombres, bring all arguments to “law is law” (even though Obamacare is the law and yet, totally not!) and make sure they can’t travel, rescind visas, and let them know “we are watching”, don’t call out white people killing brown people (Kansas), separate kids from families (DACA) even though they may very well be contributing to great American economy and generally disposes yourself of heart and soul. (What Midwestern values? What Southern Hospitality?)

What should we do about all the pretending to bring military costs down? – ban transgender people in military (and blow up the cost saved in a single game of golf)

What should we do about the problem of separation of church and state, state and judiciary system, checks and balances? reporting and journalism? – blur lines.

What should we do about people wanting to pull down racist monuments? – further affirm rights of racist people (they. had. a. permit!) decry history being erased, because ofcourse we only learn history from statues of people who fought, a war, any war, a war whose cause and cost are all lost to knowledge because museums don’t exists and text books are now commissioned by Betsy DeVos, hence hocus pocus.

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Healthcare – part 3, access.

If you believe insurance companies are backing out of Obamacare because they cannot afford to cover, do you also believe that they would cover everything if only they were able to grow their profit margin? Because in my experience as someone who has paid for my own healthcare for nearly 2 decades, faced an illness when not having health insurance and then as a person who bills insurance for health services I provide, that is not true. I’ve seen the human cost of ‘downside’ of meeting lifetime caps for lifelong ailments like Cerebral Palsy and Autism as well as denial of cochlear implants for hearing impaired children. Unless there is a government mandate, the private industry is not quick to do what’s right. The private industry does have innovative clout (which maybe or may not be government subsidized).

We need private industry and government to work hand in hand because there is a lot in healthcare that needs to be improved. But in this fight between ideological yaysayers and naysayers who keep shouting ‘repeal and replace’ and ‘save Obamacare’ we are forgetting that what this sloganeering is doing. For a fast solution, we are allowing our elected officials to simplify the problem of cost by cutting off access and allowing them to not deal the big, complicated human health aspect.

The issue immediately at hand is Medicaid expansion. What Obamacare did was give access to healthcare to a layer of people (14 million) who made a little more than what people who qualify for Medicaid generally do.  And that got a lot of not quite rich people riled up. Because not quite poor people got help and they didn’t AND they had to pay more for it. Okay, so what is the solution? To take away help or to think of distributing that help evenly and in a fairer manner.

The underlying divide here is always between ideological notion of living life with ‘virtue’ that apparently allows one to stand on one’s own feet vs allowing governement to give a helping help to those in need, who apparently got there because they couldn’t control their own lives. Eg. during the AIDS crisis, one group shouted from rooftops that abstinence for homosexuals was better for their souls and bodies vs actually getting medications and support. Ofcourse it was condoms and research into medications that got us a step ahead of the AIDS crisis, not preaching about unrealistic denial of identity. Similarly the issue that is grinding gears right now is access to help for heroine and opioid addiction in exactly that group of people that benefit from Medicaid expansion. Why should my tax dollars help someone get out of the addiction cycle, actually get custody of their children and go on to making a living for themselves with a little help from collective us? Probably the same reason why my tax dollars should help disabled children who grow into adults get rides to and from grocery store. And the same reason my tax dollars should help someone get childcare so she can continue going to the 2nd job that she needs to make ends meet, so I can then eat my fries, if not have them too.

It is the almost poor we are not wanting to help because we are not almost rich. But who is getting rich here? And how can we change that? It is not a brick and mortar building on fire that the insurance company is paying for or the metal box that gets into an accident now and then. Our health is significantly more difficult to quantify and unless you have recently been to a doctor, you really don’t know how expensive it is to see one. Your insurance premium only reflects what is wrong with the entire system, not just the healthcare law. We should be voting for people working towards doing something about entire system which includes CARE, not just cutting access for those that use and need it the most. Why are we buying into this political ideology of private industry profit over tax dollar funded access. We want to live in a world where “job creators” can get their complaints about feeling the pinch heard but the minimum wage workers should just accept destiny and give up access? What about their share in running the economy? How do you like your fries now?



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My Immigration Visa Process

I am finding out a lot of my American friends don’t really know what the process for immigration is. So, I thought I should talk about the actual physical procedure I had to go through. I will leave out the emotional reality of it for a different post. I hope it puts to rest their fear that anyone and everyone is being “let in”.

I applied for a visa for the US for first time in 1997 and as a 22 yr old, the paperwork seemed so daunting (birth certificate, college transcripts, college degree, health check up, vaccine record, letter from my physician, letter of intent, reference letters, income tax papers/clearance, proof of financial status for my self and my parents, contract from the sponsoring agency in US and their paperwork that showed a job vacancy, job requirements, my salary, list of benefits, approval from labor department, temporary licenses to work, actual travel tickets and travel insurance proof). This was for a 2 yr work visa for a traveling job in Arkansas and then Indiana.
I, along with some friends, underwent training for the visa interview from the employer and gave the English language exam TOEFL even though all of our education after high school was in English.
The interview is nerve wracking as people who interview you at the Consulate are trained to look at you as potential liars or people who will most likely overstay their visa and ofcourse look for potential trouble makers. They were certainly not courteous to me or years later to my parents who were at that time in their late 50s or 60s trying to come see me when I was ill. But they are very efficient.
At the end of 2 yrs it was a little trickier as I moved to a different state which had different salary requirements.  I made 2 more renewal requests and then I applied for permanent residency, at which point I had to annually reapply till I got the Green Card, which was after 9 years.

If you are already in US when you request a renewal, you have to submit proof of employment, proof of income, apply for an approval from labor department. Then you get a visa approval notice which says ‘this is not a visa’. You need a stamp in the passport if you travel and that is the actual visa. You can either send your passport to Washington DC for a stamp or just get a stamp from a US consulate on your way back from the country you are visiting. So every single time I went to see my parents, then on, for the first 10 years I had to make an application at the consulate in Mumbai to get a visa stamp – the paperwork involved and the procedure was equally unnerving and tedious, often taking up and day or two, as even though I had a visa approval notice in hand, the consulate agents there can decide that they don’t want to grant me a visa and I would then not be able to come back here to my job or to my apartment where rest of my belongings are. I hear the process has been greatly simplified since.

Every time you are at the airport of entry into US, the border control person asks you a million questions to ascertain your motives of why you left and why are you coming and what you did while away and what are you bringing in your luggage, even when you have a valid visa. They have a right to not grant you entry if they think you might be trouble. Sometimes, after a long flight, you don’t look as respectable as you hope and most of the time, after sitting in a plane for 20 hrs or more, you don’t feel respectable either, and the CBP certainly don’t help. But we all deal with it because that is what we signed up for.

To get a Green Card (permanent resident permit) you need to not have been in violation with your labor and visa agreement, your company that sponsored you should be in good standing, your finger printing and interview should go well. The major hurdle is providing proof that the company that is “sponsoring” your stay has in good faith tried to employ a local American and cannot find one for the position and is therefore requesting for you to stay on permanently. This was the biggest hurdle for me was that I worked for a very small company and it took me over 9 years to get my Green Card. A lot changes in 9 yrs and this was often a source of extreme frustration for my then boss as we had to keep spending thousands to get those yearly visa extensions. You are allowed to change jobs only after reaching a certain level in the Green Card application process and even then the Labor requirements need to match. You need an ‘Advanced Parole’ to leave the country while your green card application is in process. Once you get the Green Card you can then change jobs and work in any area you like. You cannot leave the country for more than 90 days at any point if you have a visa or it stands to be cancelled. If you stay outside of US for 6 months there is a separate documentation process. You have to keep records of travel after getting the Green Card if you plan to apply for Citizenship, which you can only after you have had the GC for 5 years. Travel certainly becomes a lot easy and humane after getting a GC. The customs and border control questions remain the same but at least I’m guaranteed an entry back to my apartment.

Visa applications cost around 1200 dollars per application for work visa, 500-800 for travel visa, 800 for citizenship. Also, every time you move you have to notify the immigration service bureau till you become a Citizen.
The process is different for visitors visa, spouse of a person employed by a US agency, a person visiting for religious purpose and student visa, all with more or less similar degree of hassle, cost and paperwork.

Having a Green Card does not mean your loved ones can automatically get a visa. Neither does it mean that the process becomes simpler. When you become a US citizen you can apply for your immediate family members to come live in US (parents, spouse, children under age of 21) but that process can take 6-10 years.

I would also at this time ask you to consider that for the time we live here, our loved ones have to get a visa to come see us. Rejection of travel visa of our loved ones is fairly common. I know of so many incidences, there was this situation where my friend had a high risk pregnancy and a very complicated delivery but her mother who just wanted to come here to help with the baby for a couple months was denied visa.  A close family member was not granted visa to attend her nephew’s wedding. A sister was denied entry even though she had a valid visa. None of them were ever provided with a reason but getting rejected twice means you cannot reapply for 5 or sometimes 10 years.

Living as as immigrant means also understanding that if there is a family emergency you most certainly won’t be able to travel and be there for your loved ones, if you are on a visa. And definitely not if you in between finishing your degree and getting a job. The odds are certainly better if you have a Green Card.

Visa waiver program that US has with a handful of countries means that people from that country can apply for a short stay visa on arrival. Under President Obama that changed for quite a few countries and now  people from a majority of countries have to apply for visa before hand.
A refugee has to go through so, so much more and generally the vetting process takes 18-24 months.

I would encourage you all, if you are an immigrant, start with taking to your friends about the physical, emotional, financial price you have to pay for what you think will be hopefully a better future for you and your family.

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Letter to my convervative friend on global relations

I am hyperventilating about our situation again, like millions of people in America. I feel like I need to share more of what I am thinking so that you can peak into my bubble and know why I am so anxious.

What I have gathered thus far from all of my conservative colleagues (but 2) is that they didn’t like Hillary’s money connections, emails and Libya. But more than anything, they were never going to vote for a pro choice candidate, no matter how ugly that person was. Trump’s numerous money connections and corrupted practices in construction  (where he has blatantly used illegal immigrants or made them illegal by making them outstay their visas and underpay them), fake charity, fake university and his slew of insults to women (dismissed as locker room talk), Muslims and Mexicans didn’t bother many of my colleagues as much as it bothered me.

I understand the Christian right issues are important to a vast majority of suburban people and I accept that I will not understand how they take precedence over those of living people –  taking funding away from childbirth and gynecological services from countries where women are gangraped and often die in childbirth and countries where contraception is only available through NGO clinics as there is no infrastructure for distribution of drugs or pharmacies. But I can accept that this is what is.

I will go straight to the point you make when I ask you what makes you feel better about Trump presidency –  that you think American relationships with the world will now be better. Which countries you think will be better off with Trump as President? Syria? Israel?

I know friends in Australia (in media, journalism and art industry) – Australians overthrew 3 of extremely racist Presidents and are working hard to remove racism and violence from their culture. They are all deeply disappointed that US made this choice.

I know friends in London, Germany who are deeply disappointed because Trump’s win gives boost to nationalistic populist leaders who will close borders and raise anti-immigrant sentiment, more immediately in France with Marine LePen in the running and later in mid-Europe countries.

I know friends in India who are very wary of what Trump said to Pakistan whereas for years US has supported India. Both countries have nuclear weapons and India counted on US to help keep Pakistan in check.

I know friends in Dubai and Riyadh – the only people happy with Trump are the ones that have money involved in construction and oil. Obama had worked hard with reparations to improve relationships after the wrong war and things were getting better. even with the Iran deal, they were not suspicious of American intentions and were open to change in dynamics. But now the new dynamics will be based on exchange of money and oil, like 2 decades ago. It’s not a progressive change.

I know a friend in Sudan – infact an American friend from Nebraska who is traveling the world teaching English who is dating this wonderful Sudanese woman is not sure he can return to US because of Trump’s views on Muslims and his recent executive order stopping immigration from those 7 Muslim countries.

I know friends in Singapore who were very happy with ease of business banking that was growing last 5 years and wanted more.

I have friends in Sweden that work in human rights and refugee resettlement who have shared concerns over his idea of creating of blackspaces in other countries where US can use torture even if the governments of those countries outlaw it. America accepts the least amount of refugees anyway and now there is an imminent halt.

The only country I know of who is happy with him is Russia. Putin has said “no such thing as peeing on the bed could have occurred because our prostitutes are the best” . He is waiting for sanctions placed on him by US after Ukraine to be taken off by this foolish person who is now President. He wants US to help Assad with Syria and then loose the sanctions in return so that his economy can prosper.

I understand that not everyone who voted for Trump is a racist. But by giving a bigot and a racist power, American’s gave immigrants like me a clear message, we are outsiders and we are not welcome. A dear friend of mine sat across table from me and said it’s ok that Trump is racist (because racism takes time to go away and it will be a few decades before we can overcome it completely) and that everyone coming to America should adjust to American customs, that true born Americans shouldn’t have to worry about learning about other people’s culture. It has suddenly become ok to be openly be a racist because, hey, so is the President.

I am worried that with Keystone pipeline our environment and economy will take a big hit in the long run – short term jobs and long term raping of our earth is something people expect from short sighted politicians, not someone as powerful as President of United States.

I am worried that selling national parks and Indian lands to oil companies is a short cut to nothing but money for the rich and slowing down of clean energy industry.

I am worried that putting gag orders on press for national parks, for EPA, for USDA sets a bad precedence – media has not been at their best but generalizing by repeatedly calling media “dishonest” is really eroding a check/balance. TV, newspaper media is bought by millionaires who put him there in the first place. Reform is necessary but not destruction.

I am worried that taking off pages on global warming from government sites is a bad trend – walking away from progress made in science.

I am very worried about “alternative facts” and lack of trust in science, cutting of funding from arts and science and giving public funding to private enterprises.

I am worried for my LGBTQ friends – if their partner dies or is hospitalized, they should have equal medical and legal rights, and safety.

I think ripping off TPP was a bad idea – it was probably going to take away jobs in the short term but what it would have given US was an upper hand in infrastructure, a say in how taxes and levys would be applied at various ports for the next decade in the changing global economy. In the vacuum now created, China will probably get the upper hand.

NAFTA needed to be readjusted. But making a neighboring country more poor only leads to more illegal immigration. I live in Mumbai, financial capital of India and for atleast 3 decades, there is a ‘get out of Mumbai if you are not born in Mumbai’ movement because people from all surrounding states, let alone cities come to Mumbai dreaming a better life for their children. Where does the anti-immigrant rhetoric end?

And Godwin principle be invoked but here goes – I am really worried that we haven’t learnt a thing from history. Hitler was elected because he said Jews/outsiders were taking away our jobs and true born Aryans deserve better life – within 2 years it was ‘lets not mingle our blood lines’ (which is very much what racism against black people is about) to let’s kill all jews.

The idea of sending Feds to a Chicago to control crime? My parents lived through military rule and authoritarian rule when our prime minister, in a healthy democracy, declared emergency giving her all the power for 21 months. Can you imagine Trump with all the power? That has now happened in Turkey in a span of less than 4 years – with Russia’s help.

I understand fiscal conservativism, Christian right principles, trust in free markets and private industry. I do think a balance betn democratic and republican principles is obtained by passing power back and forth every few years. But I think this time Americans acted in a very short sighted manner because they got innured by a buffoon and bamboozled by press that didn’t do any favors to the other candidate by keeping the camera on the shit show of Trump and emails of Hillary.

Too little is to be gained by this change in power and too much is at stake.

I will never fully understand you strong dislike of Obama but I accept it easily because it is now decidedly past history. But he loved this country and was not a narcissitic plutocrat. From a deep recession he oversaw rebuilding America into an almost decent economy and now a snake oil salesman, by calling life in America “carnage” will happily either take credit for his predecessors work at best or at worse, alter it permanently.

So, I ask again, sincerely, why are you feeling better about this? how? show me please.

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Short term tangible vs long term intangible

Like a lot of you, my last 7 days have felt like 7 years. And I’m sure many of you, baffled by the vote of some of your close friends who are smart, kind, caring people with big, big hearts, are trying to understand each other, talk to each other without breaking into a fist fight.

I read a Harvard review article on ‘understanding white working class’ and my friend pointed out that it is not just white working class that that applies to, it applies to middle class, white or not, immigrant or not, American or not.

He further went on to say that no matter what else a person standing for election says, if his main agenda is to increase jobs, he is going to vote for that person so that the mouths that need feeding get fed. He said it is the poor that get supported by the government and the rich that never have to worry about food. It is the middle that deals with having to give up a larger share of income by comparison to support the poor. I can see how and why this creates resentment. After a good hour of argument, I concluded, for some, having a good paying job in the short term will always win over quality of life in the long term.

As am immigrant professional who came from a bustling metro to small town America, it has always fascinated me how small towns survive. The small town watering hole in a one industry town where mingling happens is only slightly different from the local coffee shop in the slightly more urban place. But that bar is going to live a lot longer, the coffee shop will be replaced by a falafel store then a yoga studio or Payless and yet again the art gallery because that slightly bigger town is used to change in a way that the small town is not equipped to handle.

What if in that one industry town, your kid grew up hating that industry or not having an aptitude for it, moves out. Then what? What energy contributes to it? Times change and economic cycles happen. What if that industry becomes moot? Why did Youngtown die with dying of American steel? And how come Cleveland keeps attracting new talent through Cleveland Clinic. And what can and could be done about it?

There isn’t a way to turn back time. There isn’t any effective way to rein in a flood. All these short term fixes of tax code tweaks and tax breaks and pipelines and rebuilding roads are not going to, in the end, bring about a long term solution. The only thing that does is learning what to do in the new economy. It is as the cliché goes, learn to catch up with the change and not work fruitlessly to reverse it. When the last semi truck becomes driverless, what will the truck driver feed his family? His son will learn how to become a part of solution by looking for a place in that new economy but what about the dad? Clean energy, technology, robotics, health sciences, agriculture, food industry, efficient construction and infrastructure are the tomorrow that is almost here. Shouldn’t finding a way to fund training for the new tomorrow help more than voting for someone to turn back time? Yesterday always looks simpler in the mirror but was it ever? Doesn’t every generation feel times are more complicated than the previous?

It is not an American problem – it is a global problem. There should be a way to work well enough but for having a quality of life, where corporate productivity demands are not so suffocating and that a good hard worker has time to enjoy a well balanced family. A lifestyle that doesn’t need you to go big and supersize with every passing decade for happiness. But if a politician could solve that problem, he would be God or a snake oil salesman.

The same problem plagues climate change. it is impossible to create an urgency for saving our environment that supersedes having a job, no matter the cost. Digging up natural gas and coal may kill your lungs and destroy your house in small earthquakes but in the meanwhile it will be cheaper to warm the house and have air conditioning in cars as you drive to the oil rig for a nearly not enough paying job. Destroying mother earth for short term gain in pocket change is very last century. I think prolonging longevity of energy sources and expanding alternatives should be something everyone should be able to get behind without hiding behind jobs. We all would like clean running water to not run out.

But politicians will never show you the longview because they need your votes today.

Another point of argument is ‘America first’.  Which country can sustain power by being inwards looking? How does a country that has its influence bleed through veins covering more geography than any other country, withdraw? And what is the consequence? Americans did gain something in that trade, it may not look like a lot – cheap clothes, electronics, small machinery, food and so on. American salaries are not going up as fast as cost of living. If the nationalistic fervor catches on, are Americans going to make enough money to buy the very expensive cars and shirts and shoes and phones made in the USA? Is that kind of self sufficiency a realistic goal in today’s world? Or has that ship sailed and it is a lot smarter to have an upper hand in creating a strong infrastructure for trade? Aren’t we better off exporting more GE products, aircrafts, pharmaceuticals, infrastructure and security and importing what is cheap?I cannot judge what is short term gained or long term lost here at this point. But I desperately hope plutocracy doesn’t end up filling the vacuum made by in the dismantling of trade structure, where rich get richer and day to day goods become out of reach for others.

American exports are many, tangible and cultural. And most are to gain goodwill to keep the balance that is needed for a secure global world. Today, by closing doors to refugees and alienating Muslims around the world, all that was achieved was creating in minds of a 1000 more children a deeper hatred for Americans for not doing their share in helping them, when they very well could. Everytime a bomb kills someone – terrorist or civilian, a child who is watching learns quickly that the world is not fair. And to deal with that, he names an enemy. Today, America became an enemy to more kids than it was yesterday. How short sighted is this path ro security then? However one sided the Iran deal was or the extension of friendship to Cuba was – the goal achieved was, timely planting of seeds of goodwill. Nobody should be alienating more and more and more people till the only friend you have left is a deranged Russian President who only cares to have his sanctions lifted. What has ever been achieved by bravado that has been more important than diplomacy?

If you don’t see your competition or enemy as human first, they certainly will be happy to return the favor.

I hope that my well meaning friends on the other side of my political beliefs will open their hearts and minds just as we on this side pledge to understand what having a good paying job means to them. But can we atleast agree that discriminating people by race, religion, sexual orientation, creating “alternative facts” and libeling all press as “dishonest media”, restricting press, freedom of expression and curbing science and arts, selling national lands to oil industries and such shennigans takes us back to dark ages – not make us great. Again. Or ever.

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Not quite Charlie

Not even 4 days have gone after the terror attacks in France and already all over the social media are reactions from people saying why is there not the same level of coverage given to terror assaults that happen daily in the middle east and non-1st world countries. The shock hasn’t even started to wear off but the intellectualization of the event has already started. Everyone wants to talk about freedom of speech and freedom to offend and problems with Islamist extremism and jihadists.  I guess for people watching from afar, the distance certainly helps cutting short the shock and then a debate over core causal issues naturally ensues.

There is still so much naiveté in the mass American response – blame the Muslims/ Islam fosters extremism and rightful absolute horror at killing of innocent people. Also accompanied was the hope that things can get better and there is room for people to stand together through various political and humanistic efforts. And then follows the disastrous and habitual mantra of war against jihadists not as a part of the problem but part of the solution.

The response from my fellow Indians has been the quite interesting. Ofcourse nobody with a beating heart is going to fall short in condemning the horrific assault on human life.  The intellectuals further mourn the attack on freedom of speech and debate over freedom to offend. There are a few who wonder if there is a way to put up a defense against the offense and when is it ok to say enough.

But the vast majority of my kin have shown pathetic indifference – or worse – ‘now the white people know how it feels to be attacked’. Actually similar words have been thoughtlessly expressed  after the various terror attacks in the past couple 15 years, especially among those that feel it to be too much of bother to think beyond daily meal and immediate family. There is ofcourse middling disapproval for killing of the innocent, shock at the brutality of it but beyond that – not much else. Why is that? I was in Mumbai during the attacks Nov 2008. That probably was the only terrorist assault in India that got world wide attention. And my neighbor had then pointed out, people have been setting off bombs in public places (and even the parliament once) in India every few years since the 90s. Even in this densely populated country, it is becoming easier to find someone who has lost someone in a bomb blast somewhere, he had said.  Right after that event, quite a few politicians went on new channels saying ‘things like this happen in big cities, we should move on’. There were met with large outrage and loud outcry and were promptly re-elected in the next couple years! It struck me then as it is hitting me now, we from Asia are getting quite used to hearing about bomb blasts and mass shootings that unless it hits immediately home, there is a foul, ill gotten and growing apathy to loss of human life. It may stem from lack of faith in system to stop or stem these terror assaults.  Rooting out terror, to many, is a futile exercise other than those whose family is enlisted in the army.

I was talking to an Indian friend here in the US that every year at 9/11 we all seem to unite more as humans. There is a tenderness in interaction with people, a shared pain of loss and a weight in the memory of those images of planes driving through the towers.  But I do not meet many people from India who feel that weight about the Mumbai attack nor want to remember it with heavy heart but will readily to jump on to the bandwagon of blaming the government for inaction and quickly forget about the loss.

The world has truly changed since 9/11 and has been changing long before Desert Storm, the machinations set rolling since 9/11 have made sense of safety progressively difficult. But in the West, there is still hope. Is the East envious of this hope? Or does it look at this hope as audacity? Where is that contribution to global safety and participation? If it isn’t at a government level, is it not our job to strive for it at a basic human level? One has to care about a human life lost, no matter under what circumstances and no matter how. It is time we brown people put value in human currency.

There really isn’t a need to fret about who and what gets more coverage as long as there is voice of care and a human bonding. Not all of us can be ‘Charlie’ as we might not be willing to lay down our life for what we wish to say. But we come from a line of people who did so to give us freedom. And we can stand together in mourning senseless loss of human life.

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