Saturday, November 21, 2009

I Am In Love . . .

Such powerful words. I was wondering the other day how unfortunate we are if we cannot be in the state where we can say "I am in love". Love seems to me one of the highest virtues and when one reflects on history, we find that love has been a guiding force for much of our culture, art, and human progress and development. In Islam, sufis are often in this state of mind because they strive to be in love with the Beloved, which is God. Love is a fundamental aspect of Catholicism, Judaism and other religions. It seems to me that love is an underlying component for our salvation as mankind. When we can be in love, fall in love, be loved, stay in love, and say that we are in love, we can achieve greatness, transcendence and inner peace and harmony. Of course, the absence of love shows in the world but we must not let that deter us from pursuing this consummate state and thereby, relieve our personal tension, prejudice, conflict or disinterest. We must pursue such a state vigorously and thoughtfully so that we can be productive, caring, blessed and elevated in the eyes of the supreme being. There can be no greater feeling than when we can reach out to someone and say "I am in love". No questions asked. Why - because love is consummate; it is eternal and everlasting. It is our sole trace on a distant, forbidden planet where we can only depend on ourselves. When we can reside in a world where we can overhear these words spoke often - I am in love - while sitting at a cafe, restaurant, park, train, bus or our homes, our ears are still wanting and we have yet to hear the flute of heaven impart its sweet sound. I am in love - a wonderful phrase that not only creates bliss among us and for those that are mutually loved, but honors all humanity. Whether you are in love or not in love, there is a special power when you say, I am in love. Let that not be confused with any distorted view of how we must show our love . . . all that's needed is to speak these words from the heart and to let others do the same. One thinks why the pursuit of love is not an inalienable right in our Constitution. While that might not be the case, it is an unconditional, penultimate birthright for each and every one of us that should not be muted by our uncertainty. My new film Love Happens is devoted to my own enduring faith in love.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Hope Is Lost . . .

Hope is one of the greatest virtues and stands together with love. Hope is lost when the agents of hopelessness exact upon the world a heavy toll. The pavilion of hope under which all humanity stands is riddled and compromised when any of the following occurs:

1. When a mother cannot care for her young and a child starves out of wantonness.
2. When wealth is concentrated in the hands of the few who dictate how that wealth should be administered based on personal whim rather than servitude to God.
3. When men are murdered and criminality and economic hardship plague the land.
4. When children fail in schools and education fails to advance and edify them in the proper way.
5. When men do not worship or pray to a unified God.
6. When language becomes an impediment to communication and we cannot embrace one another as brothers and sisters.
7. When history fails to teach us how to live our lives and rectify our actions.
8. When imperialism of any stripe sweeps across the globe and war is declared on innocent civilians who cannot defend themselves.
9. When centuries-old culture is trampled under the feet of imperialist aggression and political skulduggery.
10. When moral leadership is scarce in the world and the light that gloweth in the bosom of our hearts no longer inflames our soul.

That is when hope is lost and we cease to be children of God and the world is no longer is our refuge.

Monday, November 2, 2009

The Caliphate System of Government

With voter registration currently underway in New York and the general election only days away, I wanted to briefly discuss a form of government that is not widely known today but was highly effective during a period in history known as the golden of Islam - I am referring to the Islamic Caliphate, a form of government based on absolute rule. In theory, the Caliphate system could potentially govern diverse masses across several nations and perhaps, the entire world. This is very akin to monarchies in Europe where kings and queens reign with a mighty scepter over the land but their power and influence too has diminished over time but should be respected for its historic integrity. Why is democracy so vastly different from glorified forms of government? Perhaps, it caters mostly to majority rule - but we know that majority rule is never always right. My film version of An Enemy of the People, addresses this topic quite convincingly. Dr. Stockmann is singled out for his views and rises as a hero in the story and opposes the town government over a water purification act. It is a perfect context for a discussion on majority rule and governance and how one man can stand up for the truth despite overwhelming opposition. Thus, it gives credence to more monarchical, religio-centered forms of government and also, alludes loosely to the Caliphate system discussed here. We vote today for our elected officials who are appointed to oversee matters of social importance both large and small. But the most fascinating part of the Caliphate system to me is undivided allegiance to a single man - a man chosen by God to rule the earth as his divine birthright. This is unthinkable for many of us today. How can a single man be expected to hold so much power. Well, in the Islamic world - government is more symbolic and in many ways prior to the Balfour Treaty that broke up the last known Caliphate, again a single man controlled a vast Islamic region. We can also discuss how power corrupts and the Machievellian view of government. It's important to know that a Caliphate does not necessarily denote a hierarchy. There are many flaws to the Caliphate such as overcentralization and mismanagement and other abuses that I have closely studied as an educator. Further, the breakup of the last known Ottoman Caliphate was a historic moment in the long, gloried history of Islam, where societies thrived under the flag of a supreme Vicegerent. Allegiance to the Caliphate has lived on and we can still recognize its vestiges throughout the Islamic world or whenever we see someone wearing a fez. To a large extent, my book The Shadow of God, is mostly inspired by my intense fascination with the Caliphate system - a chosen ruler by the will of God to rule the earth holds for me a profound and special intrigue. We wonder now how democracy has evolved over time and how it compares to other forms of goverment. We shun dictatorships, Communism and military rule and praise democracy above all. But to be truly democratic, one must always know the history of governance that has preceded it.