Romeo & Juliet redux

Most would immediately consider the story of Romeo & Juliet as depicting a love that is so deep, that the lovers (un-wittingly) die for each other. It’s also a tragedy as Romeo was not aware that Juliet had faked her death, and he then committed suicide by drinking poison at her tomb. She wakes up, discovers Romeo dead at her side, and in turn, commits suicide with his dagger. This Shakespearean story has a happy ending as the two feuding families reconcile through these deaths.

We are witnessing a modern tragedy involving love. 19 elementary school, 4th grade children and two adult teachers were killed yesterday (May 24, 2022) in Uvalde, Texas by a 18 year old armed with an AR-15. 19 innocent lives that had more years of living. 2 dedicated teachers. No society can afford to experience such periodic losses without losing its own innocence. It’s foolish to brush this aside as though it’s an inevitable part of our nation’s story, to let a minority have its way.

What is the “love” that’s tied to this tragedy? It’s the love of an unfettered 2nd Amendment Rights that currently allows a 18 year old to buy a military style assault rifle.

History books tell of ancient (uncivilized) societies and tribes who offer children, virgins, etc. at their altars to appease their gods, to secure blessings for their tribe.

Can Americans recognize by allowing such mass killings to persist without doing anything, we in effect, are allowing the High Priests of the 2nd Amendment Right to continue such sacrifices in this modern day and age?

Consider the plight of parents now and tomorrow, as they send their school children off to school. How can normalcy be wondering if they will come back safely at the end of the school day?

As we look into the mirror, who will we see? Someone who has become inured into helplessness and hopelessness, or someone who will no longer allow a minority to out-shout and over-rule a majority.

How will we work towards our own happy ending from this tragedy? A journey starts with a single step.

The Passing of an American Hero

We can learn a lot from the lives of great figures. We can also learn a lot from the deaths of great figures in these contemporary times. If we observe and reflect.

John McCain (August 29, 1936 – August 25, 2018), may his soul rest in peace, was a Patriot, a Statesman and a Hero. A Patriot “loves, supports, and defends his or her country and its interests with devotion”. A Statesman “exhibits great wisdom and ability in directing the affairs of a government or in dealing with important public issues”. A Hero is “noted for courageous acts or nobility of character; and is regarded as a role model or ideal”.

This piece cannot do justice to the achievements, the character and values of John McCain. The eulogies by his daughter Meghan, by Presidents Bush & Obama, testifies of an individual who loved his country beyond measure, who had unquestioned and unparalleled integrity and who was able to genuinely reach beyond his Party. Very few can merit the same authentic eulogies from Presidents Bush & Obama.

Rather what this piece can do, is point out the reactions of some. The eulogies by his Party Leaders pale significantly. It was interesting to observe most of these party apparatchik exclusively used the term patriot, and no more. The passion meter hovered near lukewarm. It was also interesting to observe the outrage from Trump supporters at the fiery eulogies delivered in the Senate Capitol, encouraging presidential tweets to respond. To non-partisan observers, there is an echo from Hamlet, “The lady doth protest too much, methinks”.

The Jan 2017 Presidential Inaugural address promised to unite the country. The truth is that the nation is more divided. And those in power, appear to relish the division, as it energizes their base to help maintain power. Previously, I have only heard of national leaders in 3rd world countries claiming violence if the elections fall the other way. Now, this has occurred in USA. Perhaps descending to the depths will teach a humility that is needed.

What messages should we then take from the Maverik’s life and death?

  • Having unquestionable integrity to what America stood for, to a cause beyond self, regardless of costs or sacrifice, regardless of party affiliation, is a lamp that illuminates the world.
  • Standing up for the weak, the oppressed, the victimized, those without voice, points to a large heart that reaches beyond blood.
  • Even if we disagree, there’s still respect of the other’s perspective and concerns. We see so little of that from those in power today, and in truth, they sow the seeds for their own future failing. All reap what they sow.

John  is looking down from heaven as his love for America will transcend human body. May his life inspire others to continue his aspirations for and vision of America.

Festivals and Festivities

Every nation has its festivals. Malaysia, with its multi-cultural heritage, had an unfair abundance of festivals. The Malays have their Hari Raya Aidilfitri, which was the culmination of Ramadan’s fasting. Hindu Indians have Deepavali/Diwali, the Festival of Lights. The Chinese have their Chinese New Year, welcoming in the new lunar year (based on the Chinese zodiac). Christians have Christmas and Easter. Ibans have Gawai Dayak, celebrating the rice harvesting. And many more.

What is unique in Malaysia is the concept of the ‘Open House’, during these festivities. Namely, the various cultural festival celebrants, would welcome ‘all and sundry’ to their homes.  There would be special dishes, cakes, desserts prepared, a wondrous palate for the senses. Indulgence and merry making was the order of the day. No RSVP was required because one did not need a specific invite for an Open House. All one had to figure out was the Open House hours. One could even bring others who the host did not know. Hospitality was extended to friends and strangers alike.

The greeting custom back in the 60s/70s/80s was that everyone wished everyone the festive greeting. Thus, we had non-Christians/Muslims wishing Christians, ‘Merry Christmas’. We Christians, even wished non-Christians/Muslims, ‘Merry Christmas’ when they visited us in our homes. Because when one really delves into the heart of the matter, wishing another person, even if he/she doesn’t share the same beliefs/culture, is just plain and simple, ‘good will’. Otherwise, if I, as a Christian, withhold wishing someone ‘Merry Christmas’ because I am not sure if that someone is a Christian, am I not then reserving my goodwill for only those of the same faith?

Let not political correctness nor religious fundamentalism be an obstacle to humanity coming together, to acknowledge and celebrate each other’s festivals.

With that, a Blessed and Merry Christmas to All.