Observation: “In a Dark, Endless News Cycle, the Thailand Rescue Gave Us Light” By Musafir

The US news media didn’t talk much about this because it happened in an area that is not considered strategic in their point of view. Nonetheless, that doesn’t diminish its sigoct 18 thailandnificance. I am talking about the rescue of twelve boys and their soccer coach in Thailand.

The rescue team and the whole nation of Thailand undertook a heroic mission as it strained every nerve to save the 13 who were trapped inside a cave. Laughter and tears go together. Humanity is still relevant and alive in Thailand today.
However, the rescue is not without grief. In the midst of the celebration by the 13 families, there is an unmistakable sense of gratitude as Saman Gunan, a former Thai navy diver who lost his life in the rescue effort. A nation thanked and grieved for its hero who set an example of altruism for all of us.

The 18 days were marked by dimming hopes, a sudden discovery, and the race against time to save the lives of the boys and their coach. Yet what made this story so powerful and absorbing was seeing humanity at its best. The rescue is a true inspiration. It has underlined what can be done when humans overcome their fears, pull together and put others first.

Twelve children were swallowed by the darkness last month. They have re-emerged into the light, and this was palpably evident from the visuals of the rescued that have gone viral for close to a week. The boys themselves, with their coach’s encouragement, have shown extraordinary fortitude.
In a divided world, the rescue has been a model of international collaboration. US military personnel, British rescue experts and specialists from China, Australia and Japan worked alongside the Thai authorities and the people in a heroic effort.

In an era of greed, many involved are unpaid volunteers. In an age of narcissism, they have shunned the spotlight. Amidst division, rancor and killings in different parts of the world, the successful mission to save the boys’ football team offers inspiration. There may be hope yet in a strife-torn world.


Friday Fun: Pleasure of Air Travel: By Musafir

oct 18 princess

The year was 1982. There were no online bookings or pre-checking at that time. Not having any luck finding a cheaper flight on my own, I called the airline.

Representative: “Okay, so there are two fare options on that ticket: $287, which is non-refundable and can’t be changed or $431, which can be changed with the applicable change fee and is our recommended ticket,” said the agent on phone.

Me: “That’s not bad. How much is the change fee on this kind of ticket?”

Representative: “$200.”

Me: “…I’ll do the $287 ticket.

Representative: “But it can’t be changed. You’ll lose the full amount if you change plans. If you get the $431 ticket, you can change the ticket and just pay the change fee.”

Me: “Which is $200, yes?”

Representative: “Yes, Sir.”

Me: “I’ll take the $287 ticket.”

Finally on the day of travel I made it to the security line when the agent asked, “Has anyone put anything in your baggage without your knowledge?” To which I replied, “If it was without my knowledge, how would I know?” The agent was so mad that he put me through special screening and further interrogation. That made me miss my flight.

I went to the ticketing again where I had to pay extra for another flight. I was signing the receipt for my credit card purchase when the clerk noticed I had never signed my name on the back of the credit card. She informed me that she could not complete the transaction unless the card was signed. When I asked why, she explained that it was necessary to compare the signature I had just signed on the receipt. So I signed the credit card in front of her. She carefully compared the signature to the one I had just signed on the receipt. As luck would have it, they matched.

On boarding, I was seated next to a young mother with an infant in her lap and a toddler seating next to her. Soon the stewardesses started their safety routine, “In the event of a sudden loss of cabin pressure, oxygen masks will descend from the ceiling. Stop screaming, grab the mask, and pull it over your face. If you have a small child travelling with you, secure your mask before assisting with theirs. If you are travelling with more than one small child, decide which one you love the more.

“They are cruel,” the mothered murmured.

“I know, must have watched Sophie’s Choice” I replied and pretended to go to sleep.

After the flight reached its cruising speed, the mother next to me pushed the call button and asked the stewardess if the pilot could shut off one of the jet engines so his children could sleep peacefully.

Stretching up from my seat, I scanned the plane. As far back as I could see, people were pinched between fellow passengers packed like cigarettes. Suddenly the mother had to change infant’s diaper. She got out of her seat with a great difficulty. I realized that child birth couldn’t have been more difficult than her ejecting from her seat. The narrow aisle of the plane was jammed with passengers lining up for toilet. Having no other option, the mother lay the infant in the aisle in an attempt to change the diaper. Soon I heard the scream of the stewardess,” Get out of my way, so I can finish serving drinks to the other 70 passengers on board.”

To add to the misery the plane suddenly dropped violently because of an air pocket while we were eating. The woman next to me cuddled both her children and started making scary noises every time the plane went down. “Ask the pilot to find a different route,” she shouted.

“He won’t,” I replied, “they are dare devils and obstinate.”

“Doesn’t turbulence bother you?” She asked.

“Turbulence? That’s OK, I’m used to it. I’m married.

“I was married too.”

“What happened?”

“He died two years ago.”

“How ‘bout this infant?” I was curious to know.

“I said he died; I didn’t,” she answered.

The landing was worse – the plane was shaking when we were descending and then we just landed with this really big thump that felt like the wheels were bouncing on and off the runway.

Finally the pilot announced, “Thank you for flying with us. We hope you enjoyed giving us the business as much as we enjoyed taking you for a ride.”

Commentary: “Putin 4, Trump 0” By Musafir

Oct 18 TrumpRussia may not have won the World Cup of soccer but it certainly beat the United States squarely during the summit between President Trump and President Putin in Helsinki, Finland. Putin, a seasoned politician and a trained KGB operator manipulated and dominated over a novice politician and a successful real estate magnate, Donald Trump. I am an independent thinker and am independent in my political views. Knowing the quality of leaders and their hidden agendas in both the political parties, I consider clinging to any one party as an insult to my intellect.

One of the many reasons I voted for then candidate, Donald Trump was his stance on a strong America and because he came across to me as someone who would not be compromising when it came to America’s interest. Disappointingly, Mr. Trump not only looked enervated coming from a tough European tour, I never saw his picture so filled with ennui before. In terms of a soccer game Putin beat him 4-0.

Goal 1: Mr. Trump declined to side with US intelligence over Putin: “”I have great confidence in my intelligence people, but I will tell you that President Putin was extremely strong and powerful in his denial today,” Trump said during a joint news conference. Trump’s statements amounted to an unprecedented refusal by a US president to believe his own intelligence agencies over the word of a foreign adversary and drew swift condemnation from across the partisan divide.

Goal 2: President Trump sounded flattering to Putin whereas the latter was steadfast and restricted in his views about his relationship with The US. Here are the excerpts for comparison.

In answer to a reporter’s question, “Do you hold Russia at all accountable or anything in particular?” This is what Trump said, “Yes I do. I hold both countries responsible. I think that the United States has been foolish. I think we’ve all been foolish. We should have had this dialogue a long time ago, a long time frankly before I got to office. And I think we’re all to blame.”
He further added, “I think that the United States now has stepped forward, along with Russia, and we’re getting together and we have a chance to do some great things, whether it’s nuclear proliferation in terms of stopping, have to do it, ultimately that’s probably the most important thing that we can be working on.”

When a reporter asked the following question to Putin,” If I could follow up as well. Why should Americans and why should President Trump believe your statement that Russia did not intervene in the 2016 election, given the evidence that U.S. intelligence agencies have provided? Putin answered,” As to who is to be believed and to who is not to be believed, you can trust no one – if you take this — where did you get this idea that President Trump trusts me or I trust him?”
He defends the interests of the United States of America. And I do defend the interests of the Russian Federation.

Goal 3: “Well our militaries do get along.” Instead of criticizing Russia over supporting the Assad regime’s massacre of 400,000 adults and children in Aleppo, Syria, Mr. Trump seemed pandering to Putin with these words, “In fact our military is actually have gotten along probably better than our political leaders for years but our militaries do get along very well and they do coordinate in Syria and other places. Ok? Thank you.”

Goal 4: Annexation of Crimea was not discussed: Russia in 2014 annexed Crimea from Ukraine, eliciting widespread international condemnation. The U.S. and European Union enacted sanctions against Russia for its role in the annexation and Russia was removed from the Group of Eight, now Group of Seven (G-7), over the move.

However, Crimea was not mentioned in the press conference by either leader because Peskov, a Russian diplomat said Putin may be willing to compromise on other issues but not Crimea. Prior to the summit Mr. Trump had implied the U.S. could discuss recognizing Russia’s annexation of Crimea during the summit in Helsinki, but Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Crimea is off the table.

In conclusion, Putin got what he wanted –prestige at home and a world audience. The fact that Putin made Trump wait for an hour before the summit started, and that the American spoke in glowing terms about their future relationship—without mentioning Crimea, election meddling, or the Novichok poisoning—makes Putin seem in control. While Putin put America down mentioning the assassinations of Kennedy and Martin Luther King, Jr. and by condemning police brutality against minorities (One-on-one with Chris Wallace), Mr. Trump appeared as a sycophant at his best.

A Short Essay: “In Praise of Eloquence”: By Musafir

“Eloquence is a painting of the thoughts.” – (Blaise Pascal)

The other day, someone asked me what my favorite word of the English language was. I had to think it over since English has so many effulgent and expressive terms. However, when I choose a word, I want to be eloquent about it (I am not necessarily good at it). So, ‘eloquence’ naturally came to mind.

I have had the good fortune to be exposed to eloquent writers and poets since my childhood. To name some of them, Kabir, Rahim, Ghalib, Premchand and Tulsidas (among the Indian men of literature) left profound impressions on my mind. Coming to the English literature, Shakespeare, Maugham, Emerson and the poets of the romantic era such as Keats, Wordsworth, Lord Byron, Blake, Shelly and Coleridge have always enthralled and fascinated me. By the way, Eloquence in English literature did not arise until well into the sixteenth century. Pre-renaissance writers and poets such as Chaucer (Canterbury Tales) and Bunyan (Pilgrim’s Progress) were scholarly and great thinkers, but lacked eloquence. That’s what I think.

Coming back to the subject, who can forget Mark Antony’s speech after Caesar’s assassination, “Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears…?” Antony’s speech appealed to the crowd’s emotions, while Brutus’s was clinically logical and direct in explaining why Caesar had to be killed. The Romans were persuaded by Mark Antony’s speech because he spoke eloquently compared to Brutus who was dull and apathetic. In other words, he lacked eloquence.

Words when spoken eloquently, get etched in people’s minds. For me, many of them have become tenets and guides to live my life by.

“The race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong,” (from Ecclesiastes) has always encouraged me to fight on in face of adversity.

“To err is human, forgiveness divine,” (Alexander Pope) has taught me to be tolerant. No one is infallible. We need to forgive others and move on.

“Brevity is the soul of wit,” (Polonius in Shakespeare’s Hamlet) has helped develop my wry sense of humor in writing and speaking. (I am not necessarily good at it).

I consider eloquence as a symphony of words that reflects beauty, style, rhythm, pleasure and, overall, creates a lasting impression in one’s conscious. Eloquence isn’t necessarily about flowery speeches. It’s rather about someone who can express the heart of the issue with force and clarity, and appropriate to the audience which is not the same as being generally articulate, although they tend to go hand in hand most of the time.

When asked to explain his policy to parliament, Winston Churchill responded with these ringing monosyllables: “I will say: It is to wage war, by sea, land and air, with all our might and with all the strength that God can give us.” Robert Frost observed that “Home is the place where, when you have to go there, they have to take you in.” And William H. Johnson used 10 two-letter words to explain his secret of success: “If it is to be, it is up to me.”

nixonWe don’t have to be great authors, statesmen or philosophers to tap the eloquence in expression. My aunt didn’t go to school, but she had a knack of getting her message across very efficaciously in her native tongue. I always remember to conserve energy; buy possessions like a rich man (good quality) but maintain it like a poor man (take good care); place things back where I picked them from. Those messages and their resulting behaviors are etched in my mind due to her eloquence.

A word of caution: Like anything else in the world, eloquence can also be used with bad intentions in mind. I remember Senator Lloyd Bentsen saying this to Dan Quayle: “Senator, I served with Jack Kennedy, I knew Jack Kennedy, Jack Kennedy was a friend of mine. Senator, you’re no Jack Kennedy.” That statement labeled Mr. Quale a tyro in comparison to everyone else for the rest of his political life.

Pat Buchanan’s statement, “Bill Clinton’s foreign policy experience is pretty much confined to having had breakfast once at the International House of Pancakes,” created doubts in people’s mind about his diplomatic skills.

Barney Frank said this about George W. Bush: “People might cite George Bush as proof that you can be totally impervious to the effects of Harvard and Yale education.” People still doubt Bush’s level of intelligence.

Lyndon Johnson on Gerald Ford: “He’s a nice guy, but he played too much football with his helmet off.” Our accidental president is still a laughingstock.

My only hope is that we, as a civilization, remain eloquent. We are losing some of it due to instant messaging, texting and impatience with civility in our expressions and other forms of communications. For now we are losing the artful form of our language. Formerly taken for granted, eloquence on the civic stage is virtually disappearing. At least, it seems that way but let’s hope for another renaissance,









Travel: First Experience: By Musafir

I love traveling despite my health restrictions. It gives me a heightened state of awareness. Travel is better than reading a book because “the world itself is a book and those who don’t travel read only one page.” (Saint Augustine). Yes, we get infatuated but, at the same time, we also form a lifelong bondage with fellow earthlings. At the moment I’ve met someone new, Southeast Asia.
My travels have taken me mostly to Europe, India, the North and Central Americas and the Caribbean isles. The Far East is new to me. I just traveled Bali (Indonesia) with stopovers in Tokyo and Singapore. I’d like to share with you some observations about my first impressions.

Travel in Asia has a good feeling. All those countries that I mentioned are much more welcoming than I expected. The airports are modern and beautiful, particularly the airport in Singapore. Signs are in English everywhere. It is straightforward to navigate; transfers and arrivals are easy. The toilets are always attended and clean. What a relief!
Tokyo made a great first impression. The airport was clean, well-organized and filled with polite people. I soon discovered that this was not due to the fear of losing employment, the traits are deeply entrenched in the Japanese psyche. It is a sincere and genuine sensibility, a core value of the society.

The Japanese don’t point; they direct you to whatever it is you want to see or where you need to go, whether to your seat in a restaurant, the way to the exit or the invitation to step first into an elevator, with a graceful extension of the hand with palm facing up and fingers closed. It is a charming thing to see performed. 

Singapore is a place that cannot be described that can only be experienced. The road to the airport is like a garden tour adorned with colorful plants and flowers.

Bali has a majority Hindu population. Everyone in Bali greet and say goodbye with a hand gesture, both hands together as if in prayer at the chest, which I found genteel and charming. I had a most polite and helpful taxi driver in Bali. We communicated on WhatsApp. I still communicate with him. We are now lifelong friends. If you ever plan going to Bali, feel free to ask his WhatsApp number from me. You won’t regret that.
I must mention my brother’s wonderful family who accompanied us in Bali. They treat us like their own without pretensions or one-upmanship. It’s pure love and congeniality, a gift of my life.

bali 5
The purpose of this writing is not to present a guide for tourists, it is only to express my sentiments. Southeast Asia is where the nice go to be nice, where the humans go to be human, and where everyone goes to experience human dignity and respect. Journeys can be wonderful. So seek out the frames that will capture the goodness and put a smile on your face. It’s priceless.

Perspective: ‘An Honest Hypocrite’ By Musafir

I am neither a Republican nor a Democrat. I come in all colors and attributes because I am truly a hypocrite. They also call me a politician. My countrymen, you may walk up to me and calmly say, ‘you sir, are nothing more than a hypocrite.’ I won’t mind as long as you would continue voting for me. It isn’t much of a revelation to me. It isn’t even an insult. It’s simply a banal statement of fact. Just think about it. I am trying to represent thousands if not of millions people’s diverse, conflicting interests at once! I have to please all of you, so I have to be a bit double minded and speak from both sides of my mouth.

Of course, as a politician, I have to try to distract you from my consistent inconsistencies by expressing outrage at the hypocrisy across the other side of the political aisle. It’s simple, I don’t have to prove myself right. I need only to persuade you in believing that the other guy is a bigger hypocrite than myself. I know you’ll join me in the chorus and will do everything to prove that I am right and the other party is wrong. After all, I represent you. I am your reflection.

I know and you know that politics is a game of criticism. We all were too busy criticizing Obama. Now it’s Trump and tomorrow it will be the future presidents. Our job is to disrupt as there will always be plenty to criticize. I have to please you all. This can only be achieved with plenty of political hypocrisy at play. That’s why I try to confuse genuine wisdom and create a partisan wall of noise. Yes, I am a hypocrite. It’s my job calling out the hypocrisy of other hypocrites to excuse my own hypocrisy. He is a hypocrite, you are hypocrite; I am the only honest hypocrite.

We all keep losing, but somebody has to be in first place. Why not I?oct 18 hypocrite

‘Carpe Diem’ – Humor by Musafir


Oct 18 humor       My ex-friend Gus follows a self-declared business adviser Wendy Wacko who gives business advice and commentary on our local radio four times every hour. Normally, I press the mute button during her chatter but Gus takes her literally.
To give you an idea about Gus’ IQ, he voted for Crystal Ball who promised that, if elected, she’d make certain that everybody would get an above average income.
The other day I caught Gus mowing his lawn barefooted. Concerned about his safety, I asked him to put on his shoes.
“No way! Mowing lawn with shoes on may be injurious to your body parts,” he replied.
“Who told you that?” I asked.
“Wendy Wacko,” Gus replied without hesitation. “Most folks injured during lawn-mowing were found wearing their shoes at the time.”
Eyebrows raised, I just glanced Gus from toe to head and kept quiet. I learned a while ago not to ever give a sucker a sane advice.
This afternoon Gus and I met for lunch, and I can’t say it went that well. Through the whole meal I couldn’t decide whether to rip his shirt off or cut his chicken into bite-size pieces.
“I have decided to celebrate my birthday every year now on,’ he said, “I just heard Wendy Wacko say that Birthdays are good for health. Statistics has proved that those who had more birthdays, lived longer.”
“Okay,” I said, “help me out here. What are you aiming for? Granted, I may have as much depth as a Dixie Cup, but you are so shallow that even I am appalled.” I was totally disgusted by then.
“All I know…” he added, his mouth full, “I am certainly going to outlive you.”
“Oh,” I shrugged, “why don’t we part ways and make sure that we don’t miss each other?”
“Don’t you worry, I have been thinking of moving to Iceland as soon as I get proficient in the Old Norse language,” Gus suddenly blurted.
“In this lifetime?” I asked.
“Yes, while you are still alive,” Gus snapped.
“What? Did Wendy Wacko say something?” I asked shoveling sugar in my cup.
“Yes, she said that speaking English may be bad for one’s heart. Therefore, folks in non-English speaking countries such as Japan and Iceland have healthier hearts and they live longer.”
Rolling his narrowed eyes in my direction, Gus glared at me like that was the end of our intellectual conversation in the restaurant.
“Yeah,” I said, “and why don’t you hurry up before you change your mind? And you know what they say: carpe diem – Seize the day.”
The moral of this story is: If he is stupid enough to walk away, be smart enough to let him go.

Current Affairs: ‘President Trump Is Right yet He May Be Wrong’ By Musafir

During the recent G-7 summit in Ottawa, Donald Trump cried foul about trade disparity with Canada and their levying stifling tariffs on US products. Trump’s critics went haywire on the U.S. proposing to slap a 25-per-cent tariff on imported steel and a 10-per-cent tariff on imported aluminum. Lots of people in the U.S. were hurt because Mr. Trump flabergasted all innocent, doll faced Justin Trudeau, the Prime Minister of Canada with harsh criticism about unfair trade on their part. Despite all the criticism and apocalyptic forecasts about repercussion of the Canadian wrath, Mr. Trump is right about the unfair trade. Here are some facts:

Canada charges 245% tariff on American cheese and 298% on American butter above tariff-rate-quota (TRQ levels). Canada provides milk components at discounted prices to domestic processors under the Special Milk Class Permit Program (SMCPP), but charges 275% tariff on the U.S. milk imported by Canada. There are restrictions on U.S. grains imported by Canada. There are barriers to market access by Canadian provinces on U.S. wine, beer and spirits. (Source Export.gov)

There are similar restrictions and tariffs imposed on the U.S agricultural products by the Europeans. I already mentioned those in my previous articles, so I am not going to repeat them here.

However, Mr. Trump’s argument about overall U.S trade deficit may be flawed. To start with, we must distinguish between trade deficit and budget deficit. Trade deficit may not be necessarily bad whereas a long term and out of control budget deficit may be cataclysmic.

Trade deficits are not a sign of unfair trade practices or a lack of American competitiveness. This shows the willingness and affordability of the Americans to buy products from foreign countries. For example, we buy coffee from Starbucks because we want to and can afford so. We don’t expect Starbucks to buy things from us of equal value. Thus, this transaction cannot be deemed unfair.

When Americans buy imported goods, foreigners must do something with the dollars they earn. They can either use the dollars to buy American exports or invest in American assets, such as Treasury bills, stocks, real estate, and factories. One reason for a trade deficit is that the deficit country is growing faster than its trading partners. Faster growth attracts investment dollars, which, along with rising incomes, allow the deficit country to buy more imports on the global market.

Mr. Trump should be more worried about our country’s budget deficit instead. Fiscal (budget) deficits arise whenever a government spends more money than it brings in during a given fiscal year. If the deficit arises because the government has engaged in extra spending projects – for example, infrastructure spending or grants to businesses – then those sectors chosen to receive the money receive a short-term boost in operations and profitability. However, if the deficit arises because receipts to the government have fallen, either through tax cuts or a decline in business activity, that can be disastrous in the long run.

All government deficits need to be financed. This is initially done through the sale of government securities, such as Treasury bonds (T-bonds). Individuals, businesses and other governments purchase these bonds and lend money to the government with the promise of future payment. So, the day of reckoning will come when the U.S. will have to honor the promised payment.

The scary part is that a major portion of U.S.A’s collection goes towards the payment of interest on money that it borrowed. This is just like an individual paying interest alone on credit card debts.

Total government debt has real and negative long-term consequences. If interest payments on the debt ever become untenable through normal tax-and-borrow revenue streams, the government faces three options: cut spending and sell assets to make payments; print money to cover the shortfall; or default on loan obligations. We all know what happens to countries who print money to meet their spending. We don’t want to become another Venezuela. Do we?

 Oct 18 G-7 2

Book Review: THE SOUL OF AMERICA: The Battle for Our Better Angels Author: Jon Meacham Publisher: Random House, 416 pp.

mechamAccording to Meacham, we are living under political fear in a broken political system. However, Mecham chronicles the history to convince us that this is nothing new. The politics of fear had been prevalent many times before and we always survived them as a nation. This is because of the greatness of America’s soul and that is the message of his book.

Though Mecham gives full credit to Lincoln and Martin Luther King, Jr’s efforts, unlike many writers who overlook the contribution of President Jonson, Meacham praises LBJ for his efforts in passing the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. He aptly quotes him, “There is no Negro problem. There is no Southern problem. There is no Northern problem. There is only an American problem.”

Meacham chronicles other momentous developments: women’s suffrage, ignited at Seneca Falls and fueled by Susan B. Anthony (“We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men and women are created equal”); Teddy Roosevelt’s “melting pot” view of immigration; the rise and fall of populists Huey Long and Eugene McCarthy; Franklin D. Roosevelt’s contribution to the nation — “a spirit of optimism forged in his own experience.” Time and again, Meacham mentions Trump as a counterpoint — a figure, because his presidency “has more in common with reality television or professional wrestling,” who stands in stark contrast to “past presidents [who] have unified and inspired with conscious dignity and conscientious efficiency.”

Meacham believes the USA will get over the present disunity. All in all, this is a good read to reacquaint oneself with American struggles for justice and equality.
-Reviewed by Musafir
12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos
Author: Jordan B. Peterson
Publisher: Penguin Random House, 480 p.

Jordan Peterson says nothing in his book, “12 Rules for Life” that has not been told before. His maxims can be summed as: “Pursue what is meaningful, not merely what is immediately expedient. Stand up straight and face the world with courage and confidence. Get your own life in order before you go out and try to save the world. Treat yourself like a person whom you are responsible for. Tell the truth.”

The very fact that the book is the best seller currently, tells us that we all needed to hear them again as a refresher course in life. Peterson expounds on those 12 rules in twelve different chapters. He weaves nice stories to establish premises before coming to the conclusion. Though an interesting read, many a time his stories do not relate to the conclusions he draws.
I particularly like the first chapter of the book where he compares human neurophysiology to that of the lobster, while making the point that we exist in hierarchies that are at least partly explicable as evolutionary patterns. His advice is then to “stand up straight”, following the example of the body language of dominant lobsters.

In this era when women’s rights and issues are dominant, Peterson draws attention to society shaming males and looking at masculinity only in pathological sense. He speaks against the movement of devaluing fatherhood and other male paternal qualities.

His message can be summarized as realizing personal responsibility, meaning and purpose should be a central part of life’s journey regardless of the outcome.
-Reviewed by Musafir

Reflecting Reality: ‘Black and Underprivileged’ By Roop Raj

“These people just need to pull themselves up by their bootstraps and find a way to succeed. Oprah did…” How often have you heard this? Every time crimes happen in inner cities, this cliché suburban conversation hits social media.

We have to stop. This dialogue widely ignores a problem; gives no room for solutions and is plain nasty. To make my point, let’s travel way Far East for a quick look at a centuries old problem. You’ve read about class issues in India – A caste system. A social ladder in which people are placed in boxes and told what they will become in life. If you’re born into a caste in which people make clothes, then you will end up doing the same job and, probably, be cajoled into marrying someone who makes clothes too.

Sure, there are people who rip free from the caste system. But millions more are stuck. It’s all because of who they were born to and where Indian society, with careless complicity, allows people to land.


That’s happening 10,000 miles away. But let’s not pretend it’s not happening here. It is. It’s happening right here in Detroit, New Orleans, Chicago and many other AMERICAN cities. Young boys and girls are born into poverty and are growing up without air conditioning, clean water, books and most importantly, they’re often born into a society that won’t give them a chance.

I was recently covering the murder of a young man on the streets of Detroit. It was Memorial Day. While you were likely grilling or attending a parade, a young 17 year old man who watched his friend get killed ran out of any hope he had when he woke up that morning. He yelled, crying while putting his shirtless chest up against an officer. He asked him to shoot him. He asked them to arrest him. This is a teen who faces the same reckless abandonment the neighborhood homes are facing. Blighted homes and wrecked childhoods share the same street corner. There were beer cans and syringes littering the sidewalk.

Compare and contrast. I grew up in Troy. The only syringes I saw growing up were at the doctor’s office. The only empty beer cans I saw were the ones people recycled at Kroger. I didn’t have to deal with what this young man has to see. I had AC, heat, books, computers, and three square meals a day. Level playing field? What game are we playing here? So before we pull out our favorite “he pulled himself up by HIS bootstraps” token stories, let’s think about the fact that some people don’t have shoes, much less bootstraps to pull themselves up by.

Working hard and not having a lot growing up is one thing. Growing up in a neighborhood that is short on hope and high on drugs, knives and guns is different. We should all care. If we can’t do anything to help, let’s at least make sure we aren’t marginalizing the real struggles these kids face. After all, most people rolling their eyes at inner city kids have had three meals a day and a bed to sleep in. Easy to say when your belly is full and your clothes are clean. Oprah is amazing. But she’s an exception. Let’s not forget about the rule.

The late Bill Bonds came to my high school back in 1994. I interviewed him from the $36 million dollar newly built Troy High School. He asked a question that haunts me every time I cover a crime scene. “Ask yourself, would you be where you are today if you grew up poor and Black??” the newsman asked. We have to ask our privilege and ego to step back to get a clear answer.

Back to Memorial Day. I wish that young man well. Detroit Police exercised amazing restraint even as they were being pushed. It took friends and the teen’s mother to calm him down. I went home, slept, woke up and actually wondered if that teen would survive this summer. I pray he does. I wish for him one thing. It’s something I wish was as easy to find as the drugs anBlack unprivilegedd guns loaded in his neighborhood. I wish him hope.

(Roop Raj is a Fox news anchor/reporter at WJBK in Detroit)