And The Oscar Goes To… (Post Martin Luther King Day Musings)

Hello everyone,

This past week, we marked Dr. King’s birthday and had time to reflect on things. Perhaps by chance, perhaps otherwise, Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith started their Oscar boycott for lack of African-American nominees.

Have I lost any sleep over this, you ask? Nope.

And this is not because I’m against diversity. By all means, if there was even one African-American actor/ress who’ve been left out because of the color of their skin, I’d boycott the Oscar myself. Well, If I was watching it to begin with. I’m not.

No, for me, the issue is different. Completely different.

I see very few African-American affluent people working to better the lives of the African-American people of the USA. Please don’t name politicians, I don’t consider them working for the benefit of any people. I’m looking for people like Will Smith.

Mr. Smith is a well known, widely respected actor among many people, young and old alike. During his career he was able to endear himself to many of us and considering his financial situation it leads me to believe that he just might be the perfect person to fight for the rights of African-Americans.

I’m not being cynical here. I truly believe Will can be a major player in furthering the interests of a group which is still a minority and to this day, still suffer from racism and discrimination.

So what’s my issue with this “Oscar boycott”?

It’s very simple. Priorities.

Really, Will? THAT is your cause? THIS is what you want to rally the masses behind?

There are so many people in America who’re taking a risk every time they enter their car, for committing the crime called “Driving While Black“. And we know how much cops like them some black drivers. There are still many jobs that are out of reach, and so many other things that are so much more worthy of Will’s wrath.

So what does Mr. Smith do? He goes after, arguably the least important cause. He goes for the cream.

Let’s say his voice is heard and for the next 25 years, we will see 50% African-American movie makers winning Oscars. How many people are we talking about? 200? 500? And how will their lives be altered? They would become “Oscar winners”? Will that be the end of racism in America? Will that make ANY difference? Well, among the privileged, some African-Americans will also become a little more privileged.

Something tells me that Dr. King would’ve preferred to see a man of Will’s standings, working towards a far more significant cause.

I hope that none of you will participate in the – unfortunately – racially charged cyber-arguments. Will is right. A full cadre of white nominees doesn’t seem right.

Mind you, I haven’t watched enough movies this year to have ANY favorites – Well, Bryan Cranston is one, though I haven’t watched ‘Trumbo‘. But that’s besides the point.

The point is, America has bigger fish to fry and deeper problems to solve than the inclusion of this person or the other in some Hollywood shortlist. I hope to see Will Smith standing at the forefront of some of these.

Until next time,

The American Dream V2.0

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Why the high drama?

Because we’re here to talk about shiny, flashy, glittery matters. We’re here to talk about the evolution of the American dream. We’re here to talk about the new way of living. About consumerism and narcissism. About capitalism and other isms.
The “pilgrims” who came to America to start a new way of life would’ve never imagined just how similar their “New England” would be to the old one. On the other hand, it is nothing like the motherland.
The distance between the first settlements and today’s vast cities, the likes of New York, LA and Chicago is huge. Add the richer suburbs to the mix and you might want to start celebrating the glory of the American Dream! Oh, the land of endless opportunities. Every Tom, Dick and Harry can make it in the states!
Well, we know that is bull shit. Not only riches are reserved for the rich, this gap between the very rich and the very poor seems to only grow with time.
The descendants of the people who severed their ties with the Monarchy, have surrendered to oligarchy.
Within this blinding oblivion, the people are sucked in, deeper into the newest of religions. Consumerism. New-er, mind you. It wasn’t born today, but in the large scheme, it’s a religion in infancy. Sure, its roots go far and deep back into the darkness of history, but it’s celebrated and practiced in all its glory in our fine times.
I won’t dive too deep. You know it. You live it. To an extent, I live it, whether I want to or not.
So why the high drama?
Just, since I observed an evolutionary (not Revolutionary, just Evolutionary) development in the area I live in.
The modern American model living is a small, clean, if possible – green little suburb. You got your piece of grass with a house on. A mall, some strip malls, restaurants and other “facilities” to make sure you don’t die of boredom. Parks, a pond or two, and other shiny things. Ah, the American Dream. It can’t get any better, can it?

Sure it can.

Because the Avalon “Mixed development” (That’s how they call it) is the American Dream V2.0.
So you live in your little suburb and after a while, you’re a little sick of driving all of 10 minutes to the mall. You’re exhausted just thinking about travelling 15 minutes to try a new fusion restaurant. And how about driving the same 10 minutes to the cinema? Please… I’d rather die.

But hold on! There’s Avalon!

Avalon is a place, where for a measly 800K $ to 1.5 Million $ you could purchase your  home right inside this shiny, glittery shopping center! It’s a steal ladies and gentlemen! And why the hell wouldn’t you pay every penny you ever saved and will save for the chance to live in a place where you can spend the rest?
Ah, capitalism in all its might and glory! The rich will take your money and in return, they will give you the golden opportunity to pay them more of it for the shiny stuff they’ll ever so altruistically peddle right outside your door! What about that trickle down effect? We’re glad you asked! We’ll be happy to pay your kids minimum wages to bust their asses selling as much of our shit as possible to you and yours.
See? It works!
God bless America!
Join our cult today! buy more stuff!
Of course, feel free to speak your mind right here!

Better than a thousand hollow words

Welcome back folks. It’s nice of you to drop by again.

Today, I want to share a conversation with you. Just a normal Q&A, back and forth, chitchat between two people.

One of them is me. The other one, we will call M.I.F for reasons which will become apparent as you read.

This conversation took place in Facebook, as many these days do. Between two friends who have never met in real life. In light of this, the nature of the conversation is of course, trying to understand who the other person is. What he likes, dislikes and to try and get a peek into his views of the world. Just 2 guys talking here. Also, please excuse some grammar and spelling errors. Both of us speak English as second language.

Here goes:

Gil: Please recommend three places to visit in your country.

M.I.F: To Americans, Israelis and perhaps British, I recommend the following. I said America and Israel cause they have a bad image (perception) of Iran. Not all of them but I know many of them do. These three countries can meet the real Iran. We like guests. We’d especially welcome Israeli people, because in the past, before the Islamic revolution of 1979 many Jews lived in iran and also thousand years ago there was a really good relationship between Persians and Jewish people. Even now in Iran, there are many Jews, Muslims, Christians, many atheists and then Zarathustra live in Iran. We want peace with America and Israel, don’t listen to the media outlets, maybe about 70% Iranians are the friends of peace and they do not agree with this Islamic republic of Iran, and about 70% of Iranians disagree with these Islamic rules and this regime in Iran. They are not happy with that because before 1979 Iran was a free country like the west and we NEVER, EVER had any Islamic rules in Iran and these Islamic rules came to my country from Arabic countries. You can read about this also and make sure my words are correct. Any way, I would welcome all guests to Iran and i hope to see a good relation again between Iran, Israel and America.

Gil: What kind of music do you like? Any favorite artists?

M.I.F: I love sonati (traditional Persian music). I listen to rap, rock, Reggae, and all kinds of music. I don’t hate any kind of music, If that music gives me a good feeling i will listen to it (lol). My favorite artist is Homayoun Shajarian, a Persian singer who sings sonati, and also the Persian rapper (hichkas). I like 50 cent, Bob Marley, Eminem, and many other artists.

Gil: What sports do you like (If you do)? Any favorite teams? Athletes?

M.I.F: I love cycling as I was a cyclist, cars racing, swimming and many kinds of sport, my favorite team is the biking team of Astana, lotto, Columbia htc team etc. My favorite athletes are Marco Pantani, Alberto Contador, Mark Cavendish, Lance Armstrong etc.

Gil: What was the last movie you watched? Would you recommend it?

M.I.F: As i love comedies, my favorite movies were Dictator, Ted, The hangover, American pie etc. I recommend these movies if you didn’t see them (lol).

Gil: The lonely island scenario. What book would you take with you?

M.I.F: (lol) Weird question. If i was there, I think i wouldn’t need Quran(koran) or any holy book cause there is no Allah or god in that time to help me or any different god from different religion. This is my belief. I’d want a book about: how can i live in The lonely island and what can I do and what do I need and how can I run away from this hell (lol). Also, to spend my time with other books, I prefer to read the beautiful Persian poems from Maulana Rumi, Saadi, Hafiz, Omar Khayyam, Ferdowsi etc. I love Omar Khayyam and I think his book is good to spend my time. Let me write one of his poems:

 Khayyam, if you are intoxicated with wine, enjoy! If you are seated with a lover of thine, enjoy! In the end, the Void the whole world employ Imagine thou art not, while waiting in line, enjoy!

Meaning: In life devote yourself to joy and love Behold the beauty of the peaceful dove Those who live, in the end must all perish Live as if you are already in heavens above

Gil: Who was (or is) your greatest inspiration?

M.I.F: My inspiration person is Cyrus the great father of Persia (Iran) from 2600 years ago. When he said respect to all people with any beliefs and anyone is free to choose his/her religion or way and many beautiful words he said on his first charter of human rights in the world about 2600 years ago. He was a great man. I also love Maulana Rumi the Persian (Iranian) poet when he said: Not Christian or Jew or Muslim, not Hindu Buddhist, Sufi, or Zen. Not any religion or cultural system. I am not from the East or the West, not out of the ocean or up from the ground, not natural or ethereal, not composed of elements at all. I do not exist, am not an entity in this world or in the next, did not descend from Adam and Eve or any origin story. My place is placeless, a trace of the traceless. Neither body or soul. I belong to the beloved, have seen the two worlds as one and that one call to and know, first, last, outer, inner, only that breath breathing human being. or one of other poems of him is:I profess the religion of love, Love is my religion and my faith. My mother is love My father is love My prophet is love My God is love I am a child of love I have come only to speak of love. Etc.

Gil: What did you (or do you still) want to be when you grow up?

M.I.F: Well I am happy with what I have and so it should be. I have my 2 shops as I’m 21 years old. It’s true, we say people have many dreams to have all they want and each one of us has different wishes. Some can and their dreams will come true as they work hard for their wishes and some can’t because they didn’t try, or maybe their life changed by other things and they couldn’t do something to make their dreams come true. This world is too weird. My dream is peace between everyone. Each one of us, different countries, and I’m trying to help this world to be in peace. A big/hard wish but I hope slowly this wish will come true too, and many wishes I have which are not just about myself, but rather about the world or even my land Iran. I’m not selfish so i don’t have too much dreams for myself. I am happy with my life.

Gil: If a movie was made about you, who would be playing your part?

M.I.F: I’d prefer that I act in that movie (lol) because I think I can be a good actor and that movie will be more appealing, as it’s my life and I can act all feeling so true, and it will be just the true feeling in each part of my life in that movie.

Gil: What do you value the most about your friends?

M.I.F: Friends always help each other. With my good friend, we help each other, we have fun, When he or she is sad I’m sad, the valued thing with the real friends is that they don’t leave you alone and in the lonely moments they are with you.

Gil: What do you consider the most important lesson life taught you?

M.I.F:As I’m silly sometimes, I do stupid things. Don’t  laugh (lol). I’m sure you did too because we are all human and each one of us do the wrong things sometimes. All of humans, even the biggest persons. Experience – that’s what we get, sometimes. When I make mistakes, I will not be sad about it, maybe you can’t believe that, but I will be happy because it will be experience and is like a medal for me. Or an achievement (lol). It’s true and I’m not kidding. We should never be sad for making mistakes because any mistake is a step towards victory. I believe that we should never give up.

M.I.F: Which places do you like to visit? which place you choose for living (except the place you living now)?

Gil: I appreciate the greatness of nature Vs. the contrasting humbleness of men. For that reason, places that interest me are places where that contrast is evident. Examples include the grand Canyon in the US, the Amazon, Antarctica. I will likely not make it to most of these, but would be happy to see some. If there’s one place I’d like to live it’s the Golan Heights at the north of Israel. A beautiful place.

M.I.F: Which pet would you like to have? which pet wouldn’t you like?

Gil: As far as pets, I’m a dog person. I had a few and loved them. Currently taking a break from pets as I have enough on my plate. I don’t particularly like cats (Sorry internet :)) and I’d never keep a wild animal captive.

M.I.F: Out of the books you read, what are your favorite books?

Gil: Good thing you asked in the plural form, as I have quite a few. The books that really had an impact of me include: 1984/George Orwell, The Man In The Maze/Robert Silverberg, Lord Of The Rings/JRR Tolkien, Otherland/Tad Williams and Foundation/Isaac Asimov among others.

M.I.F: Which behavior don’t you like with people?

Gil: I will phrase it that way, people who do not have capacity for compassion. I feel sad for these folks. No matter what happens in our lives, there’s always someone who might have it less fortunate.

M.I.F: Which person is your biggest inspiration person? and why?

Gil: I’d have to say that on a personal level, my father was and still is my biggest inspiration. A person who’s done his best to be positive, honest and hard-working, who put his family’s needs ahead of his own. A person who fought Cancer for years, so he can see his kids reach a stage in their life where he could let go. A person who did not need anyone’s approval to be a good person. Another person who I’ve always thought highly of is Martin Luther King who showed that non-violence can achieve great things and overcome great wrongs.

M.I.F: What kind of music do you like to hear?

Gil: I love Rock music of many kinds. Some of my favorites include Led Zeppelin, Metallica, Bruce Springsteen, Nirvana and many many more. I’m also a big fan of Israeli singers who mix rock, and other western styles with middle eastern influences. Look up ‘Ehud Banai’ (Who I believe is from a Persian descent) in YouTube 🙂 Another Persian Israeli singer is Rita. Whether I like her style or not, her voice is simply amazing.

M.I.F: What are your dreams and wishes?

Gil: I am very modest in that regard. I believe I share the great dream of being happy. I do my best to be happy at all times, regardless of circumstances. I find that negative feelings tend to invite more such feelings into our lives. Outside of myself, I hope that people will find a way to live with each other in peace. So many lives, so much energy, money and resources are directed towards hate… it makes me wonder how can we not see that directing these to peaceful and productive existence would make this world so much better.

M.I.F: What is your purpose in life? And tell me about ultimate goal in your life.

Gil: This is a question I am still trying to answer myself 🙂 My ultimate goal in life is to try to live in peace with myself and others.

M.I.F: Which person did you want to be? and why?

Gil: As a youngster I wanted to be a DJ on the radio. I love music and always wanted to be the one to share it with people. These days I just want to be the best me I can possibly be.

M.I.F: Tell me about the biggest and important thing you learned from this world.

Gil: There are many great lessons I learned (and I have plenty of room for more). Perhaps the most important thing I learned was to understand that I’m responsible for everything in my life. To realize that nothing in the past could be changed and that the future is not here yet, therefore, I can only change what I do in the present. Because of that realization, I choose to avoid falling into the pitfall called regret, forgive myself and others and do my best at present time.

I hope you enjoyed our conversation. To complete Buddha’s quote in the title

Better than a thousand hollow words, is one word that brings peace.

I hope you did not find any of these word hollow. Each one of these, and so many more that are spoken every day, are meant to bring about the goal of many in the middle east – Peace.

My Iranian Friend could not be named in this forum to avoid persecution in his homeland.

I’m grateful for your cooperation my friend!

We both met on Facebook as part of the Israel-Love-Iran group and one of the goals of this group is to encourage communication between people of these two countries. I wanted to share this, and encourage others to have more of these! We are not our leaders, we are not politicians, we’re people and as you could see above, we have no problem with each other.

Feel free to share this post, spread the word. Hopefully one day, we could meet in Tel Aviv or in Tehran and chat over some coffee. Until then, Peace, Shalom, man solh raa arezou mikonam.

Come on and ride on the peace train!

What have you done for Peace lately?

Until next time,