Argus

Adorn Hera’s peacock with the eyes of a cyber-Argus.

Guard a new technological order.

Record local violence and global slaughter.

Freeze-frame nations on the brink of an abyss.

Transiently capture the dissolution of every psychological border.

Prepare for the possibility and the uncertainty of the new singularity,

When your conviction becomes my restriction,

And breaking societal benediction results in eviction,

Or digital crucifixion

Immortalized in zeta-bytes of enmity and anonymity.

 

Tailor your façade to each environment’s unseen eyes.

Focus your lens on the enemy and mimic his maneuvers to win a coveted prize.

Change your behavior to project yourself as the crowd’s savior.

Sacrifice your individuality for the sake of the community.

Shine a beacon on human torment and inequality.

Feign ignorance and do nothing in the face of tragedy.

Is transparency worth the destruction of honesty?

Hate

Was it piety or peyote?

What drove a young man to insanity?

Friendly eyes and a Mona-Lisa smile, half-hidden by a trim beard that would make a prophet proud,

Gave no hint of the hell he would unleash on enemies ─ leaving them dead or cowed.

In the indifferent maelstrom of a 21st century-society,

Operating by a modern miasma of hierarchical rules unheard of in a bygone era,

He sought refuge in a like-minded cyber-minefield of angry humanity,

Where leaders culled scriptures to stoke a passion unmet by life’s unequal ration.

Reshaping Biblical lands to historical norms would relieve him from a modern Sodom-and-Gomorrah’s penury.

Spiritual annihilation in the West ─ a blood sport practiced by the arrogant and educated elite

Would be met by medieval judgment and crushing defeat.

Only orthodoxy could quench the thirst of the righteous in an arid land,

Infidel lives destroyed in their prime would bring no judgment in Akhirah,

And puritanical consecration would ensure reservation of a desert paradise on dunya.

 

What is the answer to the young man’s quandary,

Annihilation, isolation, integration, or continued maintenance of a porous boundary?

Billions of dollars are readily invested in the name of security and war.

What price are we willing to pay to open up his eyes to the duality at every human being’s core?

Poverty in the United States

Happy Mandela Day to all the readers. In keeping with the spirit of Madiba, today is meant to be a time to share your expertise or volunteer to improve the lives of others. This is especially the case for the 45.3 million people (many of them are children) currently living in poverty in the United States. Poverty can be described in absolute terms by citing federal poverty level guidelines for 2015 ($15,930 for a family of two; try living on that amount of money as a single person in New York City) or by comparing income between different groups. In the case of women, a recent Huffington Post article cited a report that retired women are twice as poor as retired men for a litany of familiar reasons. Together with a 2012 Infographic about Poverty by the Numbers in the USA, an image crystallizes of a country where we have much to be thankful for, but where much remains to be done.

The Road to Damascus

First appeared in the Norwalk Patch

If we are to teach real peace in this world, and if we are to carry on a real war against war, we shall have to begin with the children.

Mahatma Gandhi

Despairing children represent the anonymous faces of an intractable, bloody, three-year conflict in Syria. At least 10,000 children have been killed to date, and numerous others have been arrested and tortured in Syrian prisons. It is hard to imagine that wounded children would harbor forgiveness when surrounded by carnage that is difficult to explain by Middle-Eastern experts. Regardless of whether one views the war through a religious, social, geo-political or ecological prism, dire predictions for the future may leave donors overwhelmed and fearful of lending support to the innocent victims of war.

Sometimes it is easy to forget that Syria is home to key shrines of the three monotheistic faiths: Christianity, Judaism, and Islam. Damascus was one of the first cities in the Levant to receive Christianity during the ministry of St. Peter. The group of dialects known as Aramaic or the language of Jesus Christ, is still spoken in parts of Syria. Legend also has it that the head of John, the Baptist, is housed in the Umayyad mosque. While this shrine is still intact, the Jobar synagogue ─ a holy Jewish site, was looted and burned in 2013. Another Shia religious site, the Sayyidah Zaynab mosque, was a battle site between Syrian troops and rebels in mid-2013. The brother and two children of Zaynab bint Ali, one of the Prophet Muhammad’s grandchildren, were killed at the battle of Karbala. This brief military engagement in an Iraqi city has been described as the defining moment marking the schism between the Sunni and Shia denominations in Islam. Centuries later, the 2003 battle of Karbala would contribute to the deaths associated with the 2003–2011 war and occupation in Iraq.

How does the diverse truths and wars affect young ones currently living in Syria? UNICEF has listed Syria as one of the most dangerous places on earth to be a child. Moreover, “boys as young as 12 have been recruited to support the fighting, some in actual combat, others to work as informers, guards, or arms smugglers,” according to the organization. In addition, there are 1.2 million Syrian children in refugee camps and an estimated 425,000 are under the age of five. Only a small number of children (148,000) are receiving education in neighboring Lebanon.

The exodus from Syria (one of the largest in recent history) has no end in sight and renewed Cold-War tensions do not bode well for a diplomatic resolution to the conflict. As Turkey reports shooting down a Syrian plane and politicians discuss options for a political solution to the crisis, one can only hope that people will remember the agony of Syria’s future – its children.