Mike Ghouse speech in Boston at AFMI’s 25th Silver Jubilee Anniversary conference

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My speech in Boston at AFMI’s 25th Silver Jubilee
Celebrations.
Its’ a two part speech, first was pluralistic greetings and the
second was the motivational uplifting talk. 
I appreciate Mr. Frank Islam for making this possible, thank you Frank.

Pluralism Greetings

How many of you agree that you see problems between husband and wife, parents
and kids, families, friends, communities, societies and nations?


What is the single biggest
reason for that?
We don’t know each other!

And whatever we learn about the others are myths, in case of communities, we
paint all Muslims as one person as if all Muslims will do exactly the same….
all Hindus are behaving the same, or Jews should not be trusted… None of this
is factual.   And this myth building is
the singular cause for the problems and distrust we encounter every day.

What do we need to do about changing this?  Let’s take 2 minutes to do the first thing
first – Greetings.

Have you been to a neighborhood, where you felt apprehensive walking there by
yourselves, among those strangers!  Guess what, the other person feels the same way. Have you
experienced saying a simple “Hi” will change the dynamics? Puts you and the other person at ease?

How many of you have experienced that?

Indeed, when you say Namaste to that stranger, what you are saying is hey man
don’t run, we don’t need to be afraid of each other. Namaste in its broadest meaning is let the
good in you connect with the good in me. 
The Abrahimic faiths use the words Shalom, Salaam and peace.

When I say Salaam, Shalom or peace to you, what I am saying is May God shower
peace on you, and when you respond back, you are also saying may you be soaked
in peace. 

The greetings contains three elements;

1. Acknowledging the stranger
2. A desire to connect
3. Possible friendship.

When we are drenched in peace, then when we think, talk and act peace, and it should give
birth to peaceful acts and talks.

I hope we realize the greetings as an ice breaker and a connector. 

Let me greet all of you in at least 9 different religious greetings, you are
welcome to repeat after me quietly, loudly or you simply don’t have to if you
are not ready for it.

American – Aho piva (Cheyenne)

Baha’i – Allah-u-Abha 
Buddhist – Buddha Namo
Christian – Peace to you
Hindu – Namaste
Jain – Jai Jinendra
Jewish – Shalom
Muslim – Salaam
Sikh – Satsri Akaal
Wicca – blessed be…  Hail to Mother Earth 
Zoroastrian – Hamazor Hama Asho bed
 
A day will come, soon, when these phrases will becomes synonyms and used interchangeably. 

Thank you


Uplifting Motivational talk
.

Let’s talk for a few minutes about building cohesive societies, that is
societies where no human has to feel tense, alienated, apprehensive or fearful
of others.

God says he has created all of us from one single couple; a metaphor to mean we
all had a common beginning. Then he says he made us in to different tribes, communities and
nations and by extension, different religions. 

Guess what, he created each one of us to be unique beings with our own thumb
print, eye print, DNA and even taste buds. 

Like a mother knows her children well, the creator knows us well.  He also says that he could have created all
of us alike but chose to make us unique individuals.  I am sure the police appreciate that!

You know God could have opened a factory, and specified that all men should be
6’ tall, 2” long noses, 34” long arms… and women to weigh 100 pounds with
standard statistics… and produced 7 billion of us out exactly to the precise
specifications… but he chose to make us different, each one of us is our own model.

That uniqueness gives birth to conflict… like a mother knows her kids, God knows
his creation well and offers the solutions! The best ones among you are those who learn about each
other. The emphasis is knowing each other.

Knowledge leads to understanding and understanding to acceptance and
appreciation of the otherness of others. If we can learn to respect the
otherness of others, and accept the God given uniqueness of each one of us,
then conflicts fade and solutions emerge. Indeed that is the definition of
pluralism.

Imagine if Dr. Suhaib Siddiqi decides to take us on a bus tour to
Martha’s vineyards,  when all of us sit
in the bus with the idea of making the trip, 
one of the things that our driver will make sure is that all the ten
tires have equal air in them to ensure a safe journey. Don’t you all feel
comfortable?

Now imagine each tire to represent a religious, racial or an economic group…
and let’s say three tires have low air in it….and the 7 others are doing well.


Can the 7 tires tell the three tires, “Hey look, you Muslim tire, Black
tire or Dalit tire, seven of us have worked hard to reach this level, we are not going
to give you a hand out, you have to fill up yourselves and act as equal? 

How many of you are familiar with that dialogue?

Can the tires fill themselves up, if they could have, they would have, since
they are handicapped we have to give them a hand to bring them onto a level
playing field, by lifting others,
all of us are lifted and the Bus Journey becomes safe and surer than before.
All of us benefit from it. When all the tires have ample air, is our journey, the journey of India be safe, sound, secure and sure?

How many of you want to be those lifters?

Now let me ask some of such lifters
to stand up as I call their name – Dr. Nakadar – what a great man he is, AFMI
was his concept and his idea, and the group together has uplifted so many
children adding the prosperity to India, adding a new consumer in the middle
class market and giving a boost to the producer of Goods. More employment and more prosperity.

May I ask Frank and Debbie Islam to rise?

Frank is
another blessed rich man, whom God has blessed the ability to make big money
and a bigger heart to uplift more people and add to the prosperity of
India.  Do you remember Muhammad Ali,
Frank is like him in so many ways, he is bold, and takes up the challenge and
meets it.  He is our champion!
Bill Gates is one rich man who led the way in changing the world who donated
bulk of his wealth to uplift the world. Did you know, the more millionaires he
made out of his employees the richer he got. 
He is a great role model.

Dr Suhaib Siddiqi, Akram Syed, Frank Islam, Syed Ali Rizvi, Mitha, Naved Syed, Mike Ghouse, Dr. Nagama

Can I ask
some of the Uplifters to join us in standing up… Dr. Sardar Aziz, Mr. Ali
Quraishi, Dr. Samia and Mustafa Raheem, Dr. Mohamed Ameer Rana, Dr. Iqbal
Ahmed, Dr. Aslam Abdullah, Naved Syed, Akram Syed

What Dr. Nakadar, Frank Islam  and these
men and women, and many of you have done is amazing!  You are blessed to enjoy the fruits of your
charity while you are alive, what a joy it is.

Now, I ask each one of you who has donated a Dollar or more to uplift others to
please stand up.

Let’s give a big round of applause to all these men and women!

When I was president of the North Texas Cricket Association, I
went to a gentleman to host a dinner for our group, he said it would cost
$18/person, and I asked him to do it for $15 and $3 per person would be his
contribution… I did not even complete the sentence, he screamed at me… No
charity, I have worked hard to earn this money, I am not going to give charity
to any one… 

This is true story, three months from then, he was in a road accident and the
fence board went thru his face and died on the spot. When I heard that,  my
instant response was not good… then I held myself and prayed for him.  What happened after that? His partners robbed
his wealth, his kids squandered the money… he did not get a chance to enjoy the
life and his money went to waste.  There
are many stories like that.

Mani Rahman, my friend in Dallas passed away three weeks ago, a day before I
left to Washington; he insisted we have lunch together….  He agreed to join and contribute towards my work
after three years!  However he was a rich
man and had a will and his money will not go to waste.  He donated generously to different events.

The last one Mani donated was $250 to produce a video on Pluralism in Islam, he
got to see the video a month before he passed away in Costa Rica and sent me a
text that,  this is the kind of work he wants to support.  I am glad he saw the fruits of his donation. Here is the video about Pluralism in Islam, if you wish to watch – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b7Tyt7raIXM

How many of you have lost a friend or family member in the last year?
Did they leave a will?  Please consider
buying a life insurance and donating a big part of it towards uplifting
deserving Children thru AFMI and other foundations.  Insha Allah, I will write an article on this
topic, as I had promised to my late friend Mani Rahman, who was an Insurance
agent. I wrote a tribute to him.  This is
another way of continuing your good work. First you enjoy while you are alive,
and then your soul will be blessed for years to come.

Friends, if you have the money, you are a blessed one, your kids don’t need
your money, they will make a heck of a lot more than you….  Uplift others. Donate the money to your
favorite Charity including AFMI. Look at Dr. Nakadar, Frank Islam, and many of you who are seeing the good your donations are doing.

Tomorrow when you wake up, you will thank God for doing the right thing.

God bless America, God bless India and God bless each one of us

Say Amen!

Added: Congratulations to Frank Islam, he was honored with the Prestige of India award at the convention. Details at: http://muslimobserver.com/afmi-renews-commitment-to-excellence/

Mike Ghouse is a public speaker, thinker, writer and a commentator on Pluralism, Islam, India, Israel-Palestine, Politics and other
issues of the day. He is a human rights activist, and his book standing up for
others will be out soon for others will be out soon, and has published over 3000
articles on the subjects. He is producing a full feature film ” Sacred” and it
is about changing perceptions about Muslims and Muslims adopting the non-violent
principles in dealing with conflicts. He has appeared over 100 times on Fox News
with Sean Hannity and on syndicated Talk Radio shows and a writer at major news
papers including Dallas Morning News and Huffington Post. All about him is
listed in 63 links at www.MikeGhouse.net and his writings are at
www.TheGhousediary.com – Mike is committed to building cohesive societies and
offers pluralistic solutions on issues of the day.

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