It is Sunday morning 9:00 AM PST (Pakistan Standard Time) January 9, 2011, I have electricity, and connection to the Internet. There was warm water for the shower, the noise of Pakistan’s daily life transmit through the windows, from horse hoofs clopping to trucks passing by on the road. I pour my hot water into my cup that has a spoonful of folders gold instant coffee and I feel fresh. Once the internet connects and I see the top story on Yahoo and then my day is shattered into a million fragments of hurt, disbelief, and frustration.
Only several months for me here when the hope that started early the decade was changed into tears, as I was just over two months old and people of the United States and many around the world wept due to the death of John F. Kennedy. The tragedy was magnified for the people of the U.S. since our nation was preparing to celebrate during this time of year our blessings at Thanksgiving yet our nation’s heart was heavy at the travesty of the manner of his death. Unfortunately our nation would experience the treacherous loss of life due to assassinations on three more occasions in the same decade totaling the number to four. Malcolm X, Martin Luther King Jr., and Bobby Kennedy all suffered the barbaric action of being silenced by the bullet from a gun instead of intellectual discussion aimed at resolution of “Justice for All”. Martin Luther King Jr. spoke these words:
And when this happens, when we allow freedom ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual:
Free at last! Free at last!
Yet Martin Luther King Jr’s hope, vision, and words were silenced as he suffered from the barbaric act exiting the end of a gun due to his passion and openness to speak from his heart what he felt needed to be said. In my own research into his life I remember locating a news article published immediately following the assassination where the reporter published comments from people on the streets of America immediately after the shooting regarding how white people felt about the assassination. One of the quotes from a person was they felt it was appropriate that Martin Luther King was killed because he should not have been saying what he was saying in public. The article went on to say that a number of other people felt he should keep his opinions to himself. When I read this I was infuriated at that type of sentiment of people in our own country after a person’s life was taken for speaking freely.
Martin Luther, who did you think that you were?
Appointed by some higher up
Merely mortal, your plans were unaffordable
No one wants to pay for love
Oh, you beautiful fool
Swimming upstream, kicking up waves
Dreams weren’t meant to come true
That’s why they call ’em dreams
Oh, you beautiful fool
Sung by Kathy Mattea- written by Henry,D
Each of these four men our country lost in the prime of their life were all “Beautiful Fools” in seeking the ideals of freedom, equality, dreams and hopes for a civilized world. This was a dark time in the U.S., as it continued to struggle with the deep rooted social and cultural issues that existed in our country.
When I mentioned to people, both friends and strangers, at home in LA or friends around the United States I was going to Pakistan, there was always a pause with a look of , did you say what I think you said-Pakistan! Our nation when it hears the word Pakistan immediately recalls all the headlines of negative words, images, and issues related to Pakistan. In Pakistan my base is in Lahore one of the largest cities in Pakistan, in the Punjab region, and Lahore is where the Punjab regions governance body is located. Each of the four regions of Pakistan has a Governor appointed by the President of Pakistan to assist in oversight of the region. The office of the Governor for Punjab is about 5KM from where I am staying here in Lahore.
The Governor of Punjab was in Islamabad earlier this week which is the capitol for the country of Pakistan. Islamabad is a five hour drive north from Lahore on motorway. This last week on Tuesday January 4, 2011 the Punjab regions Governor Salman Taseer was assassinated. I too was in Islamabad on a trip related to meeting family and working on community reconstruction after the floods in the KPK region of Pakistan. I was internally disturbed to be here in Pakistan, in the city of the assassination, and watch the news knowing that you are in the region where this has happened. Being here to see the grief, frustration, and disgust of what the gunman did on the faces of the people of Pakistan only affirms the people of Pakistan’s respect for human life and personal dignity. Here in Pakistan there is a great amount of remorse and pain due to this extreme act of violence. The Lahore news wrote, the gunman was very religious and held strong beliefs regarding the use of the name Mohammad. It is important to understand that Al- Qur’an states that murder in any form is immediate separation from God. There are some fanatics that have twisted their beliefs and deem the act religious that are stating their approval of the gunman’s action regarding the Governor, yet the well over 90 percent of the people are disturbed and offended at the action taken by the gunman.
In the discussions I have had with people here about who this act leads to an increased concern in the United States regarding Pakistan. I discussed that the importance of intelligent discussion and the opportunity of free speech is important for Pakistan to develop into a nation that can compete in a world market. I field some tough questions regarding violence in schools that occurs in the United States and that political officials have also been assassinated in our country too. At first I was able to state that that has not happened in decades yet as I thought about it longer I realized there was four in one decade. To my disbelief in the same week almost in the same manner, a person gets within five feet, with a semi or automatic weapon and shoots another person for standing up for what they believe was right. Not just in Pakistan but also in the United States.
With all our modern marvels, technologies, scientific, and medical breakthroughs we still in the realm of human relationships and handling differences fail in the ability to intellectually, respectfully and with dignity to resolve to find common ground. Instead we resort to barbarianism manifested in the use of a gun to claim our turf regarding our ideological opinion. God please help us as mankind to use wisdom, lover and honor to advert resorting to animalistic behavior.