The Statue of Liberty and What She Represents…

Statue of Liberty

I remember the time when I was in elementary school (seems like eons ago…) and we were studying the Statue of Liberty. I recall that it was near the end of the school year, sometime in early June. I guess it was a prelude to the Fourth of July. I will admit that while I have never personally visited this “great lady,” there were times when I could observe her from a short distance.
We studied the words inscribed at her base. I was personally moved by them, “Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free…1 Suffice it to say that I hold what she represents in the highest regard.
It brings me great shame to see these words, seemingly disregarded in this current day and age. I know we are inherently better than this!
I would suggest that we all do a little research pertaining to the Statue of Liberty, her origin and what she represents. Please look at it in the context of today’s events.
I see the results of people trying to relieve their suffering and pursue a better life and I wonder… How will we be judged for these events? Our personal interventions bring Surah 99, Ayats 6-8 to mind,

On That Day, people shall come forth in groups to be shown their deeds.

So, whoever has done an atom’s weight of good shall behold it.

And whoever has done an atom’s weight of evil shall behold it.

When our symbol of liberty loses meaning, can America be far behind? This really worries me! I pray that this does not happen…

Migrants 1

(Recent photo of bodies of Salvadoran migrant Óscar Alberto Martínez Ramírez and his nearly 2-year-old daughter Valeria. They attempted to reach U.S. soil., Credit Julia Le Duc/Associated Press 2019)

A young migrant, who drowned in a failed attempt to sail to the Greek island of Kos, lies on the shore in the Turkish coastal town of Bodrum

(three-year-old Alan Kurdi on the shore of Turkey, 2015)

migrants 3

(Up to 70 Ethiopian migrants drowned off the Yemeni coast, 2014)

migrants 4

(Border Patrol Agent Brady Waikel rescues a 7-year-old boy from Honduras after he fell out of a makeshift raft crossing the Rio Grande River near Eagle Pass, Texas, on May 10, 2019. Bob Owen / The San Antonio Express-News via AP)

1The New Colossus

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,

With conquering limbs astride from land to land;

Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand

A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame

Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name

Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand

Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command

The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.

“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she

With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,

Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,

The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.

Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,

I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

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Nasi Goreng

A little more than a year ago, I was in Jakarta, Indonesia for a brief vacation.  I came across a dish that I used to make in Brooklyn for my brother and my niece when we were all quite young. Me being the oldest of the group, I considered myself a bit industrious in the kitchen. My trip to Jakarta triggered the memory of a meal I had long since forgotten.

We didn’t have much food in those days and there were times that I would have to watch the two of them. I would have to make do with whatever was leftover in the refrigerator.  I did not know that what I was making at the time was a variation of an Indonesian dish or for that matter a variation of something that could be picked up at your local Chinese restaurant. I am of the opinion that this dish is quite popular throughout parts of Asia and maybe even South America.

I would take some leftover rice, chopped onions, two eggs, some green peas or peas and carrots and fry it all in a little butter. I would also take a couple of pieces of leftover chicken, slice and dice it up and add that to the mixture. This turned into a meal “fit for both pauper and prince”.

Recently, I concocted a “modified” version of my “nasi goreng”(fried rice). I went to the neighborhood Chinese restaurant, greeted the owner, “Gong Hai Fa Cai” (Happy New Year!). (I like to “show a little love” to those who make my food…) I ordered a simple shrimp fried rice dish for takeout. When I got home, I scrambled two eggs, added some green peas and a generous serving of hot sauce to spice it up. A friend had brought me some frozen dumplings from Trader Joe’s that I wanted to try. I nuked those and added them as a side dish. Voila! A meal fit for a king!

I tell you this story because I truly realize that there is more that we have in common than that which should keep us apart. We all eat variations of the same foods! There is a passage in the Quran,  “We have created you all out of a male and a female, and have made you into nations and tribes, so that you might come to know one another.” (49:13) I believe that.

We all know the difference between good and evil. Embrace what is good and condemn that which is evil. Try to be less selfish and more selfless. Exercise compassion in your personal lives. These things mean more to me, as I get older. We grow physically closer to each other with advances in transportation and communication. Strive to know your neighbor. He is closer to you than you imagine.  And remember, diversity is our strength!