Wednesday, February 1, 2012

TEXAS FAITH: How do we create a common good today?

We hear plenty about how political bodies can shape it, but I'd especially like to hear what other institutions could play a role. And how they could shape the common good, or perhaps are shaping it.

Ten Panelists respond:

MIKE GHOUSE, President, Foundation for Pluralism, Dallas

Fifty years ago, President Kennedy said, "Ask not what your country can do for you - ask what you can do for your country" and President Obama's theme in the 2012 State of the Union -- "Government and citizens are responsible together for the common good, even as they celebrate individualism and free markets." -- completes that equation.

Indeed, welding two of the greatest statements from the last fifty years can shape the common good and uplift the American spirit from the doldrums. Each one of us is individually responsible to achieve that with the state as a mere catalyst.

One of the few things that made us a great nation is the belief in "Live and let live." It is an epitome of responsible capitalism. We have slipped away from that. Some of the Americans who made it big on Wall Street were consumed by greed and messed up the goose that gave them the golden eggs. Instead of walking away with millions in bonuses, they could have reinvested that money in keeping the jobs of fellow employees. Then they would have continued picking the Golden Eggs, kept the jobs, survived the corporations and kept the economy going.

A few among us have been misled for perceived political gains of someone else, and attack those who have made it. Instead of denigrating Mitt Romney for cashing in on his investments, we should applaud and look up to him as a model of prosperity. Isn't that the American Dream?

The biggest victim of the bad economy is our attitude. It is tearing the social fabric of America. Our belief in "live and let live" has become corrosive, and we have let a few politicians shamelessly divide us.

Together as Americans, we can restore America individually and collectively. Chief Seattle, a Native American said this perfectly, "All things are connected. Whatever befalls the earth befalls the sons of the earth. Man did not weave the web of life; he is merely a strand in it. Whatever he does to the webs, he does it to himself."

We have to ask ourselves, what I am doing as an individual to maintain the harmony and cohesiveness of one nation under God with liberty and Justice for all.

We must question our politicians and the clergy who deviate from our foundational value, which is: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, and that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."

Isn't that ideal the one that has made us a great nation? We need to align ourselves with it. Martin Luther King Jr. expressed it so well that we must be judged by the content of our character rather than the external manifestations.

Yes, we can restore the common goodness and uplift the soul of America by asking and correcting ourselves, whenever we feel less of the other Americans regardless of their religion, race, sexual orientation, ethnicity or economic status. The question is what have I done to preserve the cohesiveness of America?

To view all the ten responses, please visit Dallas Morning News’s Religion Blog at:
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Mike Ghouse is a thinker, writer speaker and an activist of pluralism, interfaith, co-existence, peace, Islam and India. He is a frequent guest at the TV, radio and print media offering pluralistic solutions to issues of the day. His websites and Blogs are listed on
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quraan burning

Planned Muslim Response to Qur'an Burning by Pastor Jones on September 11 in Mulberry, Florida

August 19, 2013| Dallas, Texas

Mike Ghouse
Text/Talk: (214) 325-1916

Mirza A Beg
(205) 454-8797


We as Muslims plan to respond to pastor Terry Jones' planned burning of 3000 copies of Quran on September 11, 2013 in positive terms.

Our response - we will reclaim the standard of behavior practiced by the Prophet concerning “scurrilous and hostile criticism of the Qur’an” (Muhammad Asad Translation Note 31, verse 41:34). It was "To overcome evil with good is good, and to resist evil by evil is evil." It is also strongly enjoined in the Qur’an in the same verse 41:34, “Good and evil deeds are not equal. Repel evil with what is better; then you will see that one who was once your enemy has become your dearest friend.”

God willing Muslims will follow the divine guidance and pray for the restoration of Goodwill, and on that day many Muslim organizations will go on a “blood drive” to save lives and serve humanity with kindness.

We invite fellow Americans of all faiths, races, and ethnicities to join us to rededicate the pledge, “One nation under God”, and to build a cohesive America where no American has to live in apprehension, discomfort or fear of fellow Americans. This event is a substitute for our 10th Annual Unity Day Celebration ( held in Dallas, but now it will be at Mulberry, Florida.

Unwittingly Pastor Jones has done us a favor by invigorating us by his decision to burn nearly 3000 copies Quran on September 11, 2013. Obviously he is not satisfied by the notoriety he garnered by burning one Qur'an last year.

As Muslims and citizens we honor the free speech guaranteed in our constitution. We have no intentions to criticize, condemn or oppose Pastor Terry Jones' freedom of expression. Instead, we will be donating blood and praying for goodness to permeate in our society.

We plan to follow Jesus Christ (pbuh), a revered prophet in Islam as well as Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) – that of mitigating the conflicts and nurturing good will for the common good of the society.

We hope, this event and the message will remind Muslims elsewhere in the world as well, that violence is not the way. Muslims, who react violently to senseless provocation, should realize that, violence causes more violence, and besmirches the name of the religion that we hold so dear. We believe that Prophet Muhammad was a mercy to the mankind, and we ought to practice what we believe and preach. We must not insult Islam by the negative reactions of a few.

We can only hope it will bring about a change in the attitude of the followers of Pastor Jones, and in the behavior of those Muslims who reacted violently the last time Pastor sought notoriety – We hope this small step towards a bridge to peaceful coexistence would propel us towards building a cohesive society.

Like most Americans a majority of Muslims quietly go about their own business, but it is time to speak up and take positive action instead of negative reaction. May this message of peace and goodwill reverberate and reach many shores.

Lastly, we appreciate the Citizens of Mulberry, Florida, Honorable Mayor George Hatch, City Commissioners, police and Fire Chiefs for handing this situation very well. This will add a ‘feather of peace’ in the City’s reputation. We hope Mulberry will be a catalyst in showing the way in handling conflict with dignity and peace.

We thank the Media for giving value to the work towards peace rather than conflict.


Thank you.


The people in Dallas are making an effort to understand and clean their own hearts first, when we are free from bias, it would be easy to share that with others. Islam teaches us in so many ways to "respect the otherness of others" and it is time we find simple practical ways of doing it.