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This is probably the umpteenth article about how to handle the news of Osama bin Laden’s death, but it comes with my own experiences and perspectives on the matter. My apologies, but I do hope it does bring something new to the discussion.
The rumors about bin Laden’s death came to my attention while I was (perhaps ironically) watching The Killing yesterday. Prior to that, there were some rumbles in the Twittersphere of an impending, and seemingly impromptu address by the President set for later that night. My first instinct was that it was likely about the NATO operation in Libya, the only current event that would likely merit an announcement like that. Yet the bin Laden tweets started to gather steam, and news organizations too began to disseminate details of a recent operation in Pakistan that had ended with the death of bin Laden.
I was floored.
I was still in high school when the towers fell. I believed, perhaps naively at the time, that bin Laden would be captured within months of the mission in Afghanistan. However, the video and audio taunts and proclamations from bin Laden continued unabated for months, then years, as our collective attention began to shift elsewhere. The inability of the Bush administration to capture bin Laden slowly drifted into the realm of comedic fodder, where it comfortably remained. It was something out of a Benny Hill sketch: ludicrous and protracted. Even though we all wanted to see bin Laden brought to justice, the sheer length of time that passed–combined with our collective lack of an attention span–relegated bin Laden to the back burner.
Within minutes of the news breaking on Twitter, crowds swelled in front of the White House and at Ground Zero in New York City, everyone united in celebration and patriotism, cheering the death of another human being. Yes, this human being was, by all accounts, sub-human in his ruthlessness and willingness to take thousands of human lives and indoctrinate so many people into his odious and loathsome school of thought. His ideology was the product of so many life experiences: the mentorship of the Ayman Al-Zawahiri (who ascribes to the Wahhabi sect of Islam), the anger against the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan and, later, the American presence in the Middle East, and a sense of personal duty to right these supposed wrongs.
In a way, there is now a similar emotional climate to the period just following 9/11. At that time, people were rallying in solidarity and in unity against a common enemy: terrorism. Today, they are rallying in solidarity and in unity in seeming celebration of the death of the man who epitomized terrorism, and was responsible for the massacre of innocent lives on 9/11.
Part of me wanted to give in to the celebratory mood that had been generated in the wake of his death, but part of me recoiled in horror at the idea of celebrating the death of another human being, no matter how evil and deluded he may have been. I remembered how news outlets had streamed coverage of the jubilant reaction in parts of the Middle East at the news of the World Trade Center towers being brought down. I remember the collective rage many had felt at seeing others take joy in our devastation and loss. The unrelenting campaign in Afghanistan followed quickly after. Now the tables have been turned, and surely coverage of our celebration is being beamed abroad. While there are certainly many who will also find relief in bin Laden’s death, there are others who will be enraged.
It is important to remember that bin Laden’s death does not mean the death of Al Qaeda, or of terrorism as a whole. Zawahiri, it would seem, is still very much alive, as are hundreds, if not thousands of militants who fall under the umbrella of Al Qaeda, the Taliban, or other similar groups. While I applaud the successful efforts of Obama to finally bring down bin Laden, for him to say the world is safer is an absolutely short-sighted conclusion. I’d argue that it’s probably, at best, no more safe than it was before bin Laden was killed. Yet more likely than not, it is probably far less safe, as acts of retribution are of far greater concern. This means the wars will likely continue, and the security measures will continue to be stringent here, and abroad.
“Delusion arises from anger. The mind is bewildered by delusion. Reasoning is destroyed when the mind is bewildered. One falls down when reasoning is destroyed.” This is a verse from the Bhagavad Gita that rings true in many contexts, no less
in describing the psyche of bin Laden and others who promote terrorism. Islam is still regarded as the enemy by many, but it is delusion that is the true enemy. Bin Laden’s popularity remains strong because he was viewed as a religious man who fought in the name of Islam, in Afghanistan, and in other regions. The truth is that he likely only saw combat once in Afghanistan. The falsehoods and half-truths surrounding bin Laden’s life must be dismantled, to stop the perpetuation of the delusion that continues to fuel terrorist acts globally.
On the flip side, America–now perhaps more than ever–must do more to rid itself of lingering Islamophobia, also the function of misguided anger and delusion. We must do more to embrace Muslims, and frankly all peoples, who seek shelter within our shores. Tensions are very high now, and there must be more effort to truly reach out to the Islamic world, to undo the misconceptions sown by bin Laden and his ilk, and to foster cooperation in achieving common goals.
How can terrorism thrive in an environment where knowledge, friendship, and respect thrive? It can’t.
This should be our ultimate goal.
This is a test.
I first joined Twitter on New Year’s Eve last year, and didn’t really think much of it early on. One year later, it has become a key networking tool for me. 2009 was the year Twitter exploded in popularity, mostly because of Oprah and the legions of celebrities that joined.
I have been lucky enough to get to know many incredible people from all walks of life. Some, I’ve even had the chance to get to know in real-life, and have been a great source of advice, wisdom, and friendship. Many are doctors, medical students, and scientists, but I’ve also gotten to know people who are newscasters, musicians, bloggers, and just generally interesting and inspiring people. As a rule, I don’t generally follow celebrities unless they have something vaguely interesting to say.
Twitter is great, but not perfect. It is still plagued by spammers, following people en masse, trying to hawk their products, marketing/entrepreneurial skills, or naked photos. There is no adequate mechanism in place to remove them before they start following people, so removing them becomes the responsibility of the user (and is a painfully slow process). It would also be nice if their “Suggested Users” function did not include just celebrities/other accounts with large followings. I’d like to follow people who may actually interact with me on some meaningful level.
While people may tend to think Twitter could supplant Facebook or vice versa (Facebook has enabled the @ function in their statuses possibly in an attempt to imitate Twitter), I think they can coexist. What I think (and this view is generally shared across many of my friends) is that Facebook is best reserved for keeping in touch with your close friends, while Twitter is great a way to meet new people.
So all in all, I’m pretty happy with my experience so far. I hope the next year brings new friendships and contacts who will help me achieve my goals, and perhaps I, theirs.
If you would like to follow me, my Twitter username is @sospokesaroj (original I know).
This post comes courtesy of the lovely Wynsters, whose site http://mommylonglegs.blogspot.com/ covers a wide range of topics and issues. Check out her post, “Mr. Carter”:
So here’s what I’m looking for: what does it mean to be born into one culture, but grow up in another? This is primarily with regard to either those whose parents were immigrants but were born abroad, or those who moved to another country from their mother country at an early age.
Let’s keep the posts to about 500-700 words. Be creative! It doesn’t have to be pure prose. If you have a style you’re comfortable with, use it. You can focus on one thing, or on everything. Even if you don’t quite fit the target group above, but have a post that relates to this topic, send it my way! Please include a little blurb on yourself, and if you have a website or blog, include the link. My email address is under the “About Me” tab.
Here’s a sample piece to get the ball rolling, it’s a post from last November on Indian communities as closed entities: http://sospokesaroj.wordpress.com/2008/11/18/indian-communities-as-closed-entities/
Edit: I’ve set a deadline of Oct 14th, please send me your posts before then!
For those of you who continue to follow my blog despite my being unable to update it as often as before, I want to first say, thanks. You warm my heart with your continued support and encouragement.
I have been busy with work…yes I finally got a job, something I alluded to in my last post. I’m doing cancer research in the city, and it has been an incredible experience so far. If I’m lucky enough to get into medical school, oncology is definitely a possible path I want to pursue in some shape or form. The stakes are higher and the returns can be poor (or downright depressing), but when fate blesses you with the opportunity to be someone’s savior or at least their support, it is amazing.
Cancer is a very crafty enemy, with many weapons at its disposal. To those of you who say a cure for cancer is not far away, as much as I’d love to believe that, I’m not sure what data you are relying on. Whatever drugs and radiation therapies we have now are effective, but like bacteria, tumors can become resistant. This puts greater pressure (obviously) on the patient, but also the healthcare professionals, who are forced to bounce from therapy to therapy until something works, if but for a while.
I’m also getting materials together for AMCAS and just took the MCAT. Hopefully that turned out well, and I’ll be a little bit closer to getting back on track. It’s unfortunate AMCAS costs as much as it does, there has been a lot of financial wrangling to make sure that everything works out. I’ll post updates on that front when I can.
That being said, even though things are still busy, I will try to update this blog as often as I can.
El Rap Enfermo
This is not a typical post, usually mine are geared towards issues and events, but I figured I’d throw in one or two slightly pointless/mildly amusing posts too.
My brother and his friends had to do an extra-credit project for Spanish, where they had to make use of a passage (or something of the sort) about being sick (remember this is still high school Spanish). So they decided to make a Spanish rap video, and it is hysterical. Even if you don’t understand Spanish, it is still very funny.
This semester has been a little more intense than I had originally anticipated. I promise there will be many more new posts after May 7, when my finals are over. There are a couple that I have in mind, but if you have any you’d like to see covered, comment here and I’ll do the best I can!
To all of my readers, I hope that all is well, and that spring has found you wherever you are (or I guess for those of you south of the equator…that weather is still pleasant!).
This is really a long-overdue thank you.
If you are a blogger looking for more traffic, this is probably the best site I have come across:
For me, it’s to get more readers to my blog in the hopes that they find something that piques their interest, and maybe grace my blog with their point of view. So far, it has helped tremendously in that end.
Here is a link to my most recent post: http://sospokesaroj.wordpress.com/2009/03/01/what-is-beauty/
Let me start with a story:
We had gone to the Hindu Temple in Flushing, and had stopped by the temple canteen for Madras coffee and snacks. When we walked in, we saw a bald man (possibly North Indian but that doesn’t really matter), maybe in his fifties, ranting about how slow the service was and occasionally yelling to the servers, “I want my dosa!” and disparaging them, blaming their being Madrasi or from some other part of South India, for their supposed ineptitude (I should add that it was particularly crowded today so they really were not to blame). Naturally we found the whole thing entirely too amusing and the guy eventually got his dosa and came back to his table, where his family was waiting. I figured the whole thing had passed, and we spent the time making fun of him and how incredibly immature he was. We saw him get up and go back to the front, where I guess they had asked him to pick up after himself. He had left a mess at his table, and yelled at the servers that he was not going to clean up the table.
Here is where stupid became downright embarrassing, if not despicable.
Another man, trying to play the role of good Samaritan, went up to him and tried to get him to stop raising his voice and starting a fight. Instead of backing down and leaving, the man raised his voice even more, yelling at the man and now proclaiming that he was “not going to clean that f*****g table.” Naturally there was a collective gasp, as there were several children around. The man’s wife attempted to pull him away, but instead got a slap on the wrist. Not only did the man not stop, but now he continued to hurl a string of expletives in Hindi and English at the man and the servers, all well within earshot of the rest of the people in the cafeteria. The servers nervously called security…which consisted of one very confused man. Eventually the man was herded out, and he could still be heard yelling as he left the building.
There are a few things I’d like to address:
1) Being an egotistical (insert word of choice) does not solve anything.
2) There are ways to criticize something without cursing.
There are people with inflated egos everywhere, but for some reason, the real class-acts seem to come from the Indian community. That’s a pretty broad generalization to make, but I’m basing this off of my experiences. We just seem to be teeming with people who tag themselves with a level of prestige that they don’t deserve, and are quick to find fault with others, while proclaiming themselves blameless. This guy…who I will call 92, because I think that was the number of his order, does not help matters.
The world doesn’t revolve around any of us, even though many of us (myself included) go through life assuming we are the center of the universe, to some extent. I don’t think there are very many people who go through life recognizing they’re one of many people, and keep that realization alive every minute of every day.
In this case, he should have recognized that they weren’t intentionally slowing things down. Weekends at the Hindu Temple mean large crowds, both in the temple, and in the canteen. The line was about ten people long when we got there, and the tables were mostly taken. No one purposely goes out of there way to deliberately screw with people…at least that’s the case with most people.
The second part is sometimes easier said than done, but the most important thing to keep in mind is that it can be done. It takes a special kind of lowlife to yell and curse about something so petty. It takes another kind of lowlife to yell and curse within feet of a temple or other place of worship. It takes an entirely different brand of lowlife to yell and curse about something knowing that both his children and the children of everyone else within earshot are listening to them. There isn’t a therapist in the world that could change that man’s approach to problems, most of it arises from his own view of himself in the context of the world. He’s probably one of those guys who constantly go through life thinking the world owes them something, and feels slighted by the smallest misgiving.
Cursing is sometimes cathartic, and I totally understand that because I’m guilty of it on so many levels. Yet his cursing wasn’t so much cathartic as it seemed to be some sort of feeble assertion of manhood and toughness. Seriously though, was it even necessary? I was so embarrassed for him, since clearly he felt no shame whatsoever.
Basically he came across as a balding baby with a tiny arsenal of curse words that he brandished with all the effectiveness of a rubber dagger. He didn’t look tough, he looked like an idiot, and if a non-Indian was looking in on this, would probably (unconsciously) generalize his behavior to the Indian community as a whole.
In conclusion: it’s never a good idea to pick a fight in public. You risk looking like an idiot and embarrassing not only yourself, but everyone around you. Save the melodrama for something else. Seriously all I wanted to do was sit down and relax with a cup of (amazing) Madras coffee, not be an unwilling audience to a man’s descent into idiocy (though I’m not sure the descent was that steep, in hindsight).
The corollary to that would be it’s definitely never a good idea to pick a fight with the servers at a restaurant or cafeteria. They work hard and they’re serving your food. Besides the fact that there’s something wrong with getting mad at the people sustaining you, you also don’t know what pissing them off could make them do to your food. I’ll end off with this little story:
A woman had gone to a deli and was, for some reason or another, not happy with their service and raised a scene. She then ordered a sandwich, demanding mustard. The guy making the sandwich was clearly pissed off, and though he gave her mustard, he squirted the mustard onto the sandwich so that it formed the word “bitch.” Unfortunately for him, she caught him in the act, and started to fight anew…