presenting India’s gift of Pluralism to America.
As a social scientist, my contribution would be sharing my motherland's pluralistic heritage with my homeland as a gift to America. By the way, India was one of the first three nations on the earth to recognize American independence in 1776, it was Tippu Sultan, the head of the state of Mysore (Karnataka) then.
The Asian News Magazine featured the essence of every religion, and the multi-cultural aspect of India and its inclusiveness, the Asian News Radio featured weekly hour dedicated to presenting the essence of religious festivals so we can learn about each other. We also produced more than 500 hours of talk show radio on religion, every beautiful religion, Pundits, Pastors, Imams, Rabbis, Shamans and Religious clergy from each faith joined me daily to share the wisdom of his or her religion, indeed, Atheism and pluralism had its own slot.
The international forums including the Council for a Parliament of the World’s Religions in Melbourne, Australia; the Middle East Peace Initiative in Jerusalem; and the International Leadership Conference in Hawaii, Chicago and Washington have also provided me the platform to speak about Pluralism.
No matter where I go, my identity is Indian.
We are the original Pluralistic Democracy in the world, and can serve as a model to nations where they are experiencing co-emergence of multiple religious people in work place, schools, dining, playground and different aspects of living. They all can look up to India about moving forward despite the difficulties, India's diverse population has successfully co-existed for centuries in relative harmony. Thanks to the founding fathers for embracing that tradition and opting for a Secular democracy upon Indepedence in 1947. Where else on the earth, can you have personal conflicts resolved through your own religious guidance? Hindus, Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Zoroastrians, Buddhists, Jains and others have their personal laws to square with the personal and family issues as an option. America can benefit from such practices.
Standing up for others
Indeed, Pluralism flows in my veins, and that is respecting the otherness of others and accepting the God-given uniqueness of each one of the 7 billion of us.
My father was a Mayor of the town of Yelahanka in the fifties, and we always had construction work at our apartments or remodeling at our historic house, originally owned by the founder of Bangalore, Hon. Kempe Gowda in the 16th century. My father was a maverick, and dared challenging the abusive but prevalent norms of the society, he had the Dalits (shameful word: Untouchables) work at our place, my mother would make them tea or give them food in the plates and cups we used, it was a big no-no in the society at that time, you ‘kept them' away from your house, just as it was for the Blacks in America then. I am proud of my father, and my mother for supporting him in breaking the uncouth norms. He was constantly called on to quit, and at times threatened, but the dare devil held on to his ground firmly and the town loved him dearly and gradually followed his example.
I saw humiliation in the eyes of men, women and children, who came to collect water from the public tap on each corner of the street, the upper caste person would wash the tap three times before he or she collected the water. It was difficult for me, and I played out my share of the drama and mumbling in protest. Despite the significant progress made, we have a long way to go in the housing discrimination, indeed, even in America we have ways to go, but we are all going forward.
As I am writing this, I grudgingly acknowledge that I have learned nothing new; my father did everything that I am doing now, Gee, a drop of tear rolls down my cheek in reverence to Mahatma Gandhi for becoming a catalyst in uplifting the down trodden and restoring their God-given dignity to them. I just have to pray for the Mahatma for saving the Indian souls by getting rid of guilt from ours minds, by having us open our hearts and minds toward the fellow beings, just as MLK did in America.
Early on in my life, even though I had chosen to be an atheist, and I stayed the course for the next thirty years, but never looked down on any faith like a few of my fanatic Atheist friends do. I have had the opportunity to know and learn about different faiths and sub-cultures. I went to Mahabodhi (Buddhist) Society on Thursdays, Mosque (Muslim) on Fridays, and Bhajan Mandir (Hindu) on Saturday nights. The Interaction with my Jain neighbors and friends, and my mother’s Zoroastrian friend was productive.
In the first few years of my childhood I spent Christmas evenings with our neighbors, and I was also dressed up as Krishna with the Makhan (butter) when I was a baby. In my college days, I had serious dialogue with my English Teacher Ramachandran, a Saibaba devotee and my weaver friend Mohamed Fakhru, an Islamic scholar in his own right.
The only religious group I did not interact in India was the Jewish community, but learned about Eishman, the killer of six million Jews, the book was in Urdu language, and my mother prevented me from reading, as she was concerned about her child’s well being, but it created a sense of incompleteness in me for not reading the forbidden book. The completeness to my life came when I organized the first Holocaust commemoration event in 2006 in Dallas. It was the first such event in history, by non-Jewish people. It is our moral duty to understand the atrocities we humans have inflicted upon each other and educate others to say no to such tragic events from even seeding.
It is a blessing to have seen Mahatma Gandhi twice in my dreams in the early 70’s with Bangalore University’s Vice Chancellor Narsimaiah, and the next time in early part of 2000. In both instances, all he said was, son you have work to do and patted on my back, and that has been my inspiration all along to commit to pluralism. It was Gandhi for me.
We grew up with Gender equality, the four brothers and the sister were equals in every aspect of life. My father never treated my mother any less, he always consulted her and regretted when he did not. I would have been a farmer or a politician in India, had my mother not insisted, and my father listened to her, here I am today. The images we grew up with were of gender equality, treating men and women the same. The four of us brothers and our sister have all agreed to share the proceeds of the sale of the property of our parents equally. We never questioned it and never thought there could be difference in inheritance laws.
My father is my hero and opened the doors of wisdom to us. Pluralism indeed runs in my family. He taught us one of the biggest lessons of my life in social cohesiveness and dealing with extremism that I continue to reflect in my talks, acts and write ups.
- The Ghouse diary . www.TheGhouseDiary.com
- My profile - http://www.mikeghouse.net/Profile.asp
- Mike Ghouse for India - http://MikeGhouseforIndia.blogspot.com
- Profile in India - http://www.worldmuslimpedia.com/mike-mohamed-ghouse-a-pluralist-and-an-outstandi
- My Real name - http://theghousediary.blogspot.com/2010/01/my-name-is-mike-ghouse.html
- Pluralism Speaker - http://www.mikeghouse.net/InterfaithSpeaker_MikeGhouse.asp
- Muslim Speaker - http://mikeghouse.net/MuslimSpeaker.MikeGhouse.asp
- Curriculum Vitae - http://www.mikeghouse.net/MikeGhouse-CV-09192012.pdf
- Linked in profile - http://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=3451402&trk=tab_pro
- Foundation for Pluralism - www.FoundationforPluralism.com
- World Muslim Congress - www.WorldMuslimCongress.com
- Quraan Conference - www.QuraanConference.com
- America together Foundation - www.AmericaTogetherFoundation.com
- Standing up for others - www.Standingupforothers.com
- Reflections Annual Holocaust and Genocides - www.HolocaustandGenocides.com
- Unity Day USA - www.UnitydayUSA.com
- 30 Blogs - http://theghousediary.blogspot.com/2012/11/mike-ghouse-list-of-sites-and-blogs.html
- Video- Trailer Americans Together - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YMXsTo4VYh8
- Video- My story, Part I - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mLiQeOo9oEs
- Video- My story, Part II - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mLiQeOo9oEs
- Video - My latest talk at Gurdwara - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vNxrf8fFU0I
- Video- July4th Tippu Sultan - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AXNS365UEw4
- Video - Quraan Translation/Bhagvad Gita - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5ZOFLQSAOhA
- Video - Immigration Rally - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OrjU0KULv-Y
- Video- Pluralism Prayers - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8mc9D9guPMY
- Video- Pluralism greetings, Chicago - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Eo3a8wX6SXQ
- Video - There are over 200 links on the YouTube.
Mike Ghouse is a speaker, thinker and a writer on pluralism, politics, peace, Islam, Israel, India, interfaith, and cohesion at work place and standing up for others as an activist. He is committed to building a Cohesive America and offers pluralistic solutions on issues of the day at www.TheGhousediary.com. Mike has a presence on national and local TV, Radio and Print Media. He is a frequent guest on Sean Hannity show on Fox TV, and a commentator on national radio networks, he contributes weekly to the Texas Faith Column at Dallas Morning News, fortnightly at Huffington post, and several other periodicals across the world. His personal site www.MikeGhouse.net indexes everything you want to know about him.