Saturday, August 17, 2013

Hoping to Walk the Talk ...

Nearly three decades ago

Nearly three decades ago, as I was leaving “home” as an economic √©migr√©, I went to my mother and asked for words of wisdom that can guide my immigration journeys. She smiled and said: “you talk too much – it could be your strength but also your weakness.”

Mothers are indeed the custodians of knowledge and wisdom. I wish I had given due attention to her advise. Instead, I have been talking since and mostly non-sense.

About two decades ago, I had enrolled myself in a class for “public speaking.” I had hoped that a formal tutelage in talking would help me fine-tune my weaknesses that my mother was hinting toward.

My speech teacher opened the class with this sage advise; “it does not matter what you think on your seat, but it does matter what you say on your feet.”

Like mothers, teachers are also the custodians of knowledge and wisdom. I guess my speech teachers’ advise hit me close. I have been talking since, in public and on my feet – protesting this and challenging that. Although nothing got resolved but I keep talking from my seat and also on my feet and for over half a century. I believe it is time to stop talking and start walking.

From the eve of August 24, I will join a small group of conscientious p eople, who are doing just that. They are walking for dignity and also for freedom from the labels of ‘diseased,’ ‘undocumented’ and ‘illegal’ among others.

I will walk (hopefully without talking) a symbolic 111 miles for the 11 million fellow human beings. As a collective, they have been the subjects of hate and bigotry for too long.

I will walk in the tradition of Moses who walked out of Pharaoh’s land to free the oppressed. I will walk in the tradition of Jesus who walked and protested the oppressors. And, I will also walk in the tradition of Muhammad who walked from his birthplace to a city afar, for a better tomorrow of his people. Walking is prophetic. May God’s choicest blessings always be with all of them.

I am hoping that my 111 miles long walk in 8 days from the city of Fresno to the city of Bakersfield, if not prophetic, would be pleasant. I invite you to come along and join me from this space. And if you are really curious of my daily walking itinerary, click here.

Friends, you have always helped and supported my many adventures – from Bosnia to Banda Aceh and Occupied Palestine to Occupy Los Angeles. Please do me two more favors.

  1. Call/Email or walk into Rep. Kevin McCarthy’s and tell him that you support full and complete immigration reform and demand that no person be called illegal or undocumented. Remind him that God did not create people with documents but with dignity and honor. And insist that he should stand with the 11 million people and seek full citizenship for them and without conditions and now.
  2. And secondly – open your wallet and pitch in a dollar or a million. Nope it is not for me but to help those who are helping others. Please click here to do the needful.

And now I better shut up. My mother was right. I talk too much. It is time for a walk and to sing .. Si Se Peude!

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Walking Itinerary from Fresno to Bakersfield - 125.8 miles

August 24th






St. Anthony of Padua Catholic Church

Sat - Aug 24


1st night in Fresno

Afternoon Prayer Service

Fresno to Selma

Sun - Aug 25

17.4 miles

2nd night in Selma


Selma - Halfway to Visalia

Mon - Aug 26

14 miles

3rd night - half way point to Visalia


Halfway from Selma - Visalia

Tue - Aug 27

14 miels

4th night in Visalia


Visalia to Tulare

Wed - Aug 28

16.4 miles

5th night in Visalia

Vigil at Dios Habla Church - Tulare 

Tulare – Half way to Delano

Thur - Aug 29

16 miles

6th night - half way to Delano


Half way from Tulare – Delano

Fri - Aug 30

16 miles

7th night - Delano


Delano - half way to Bakersfield

Sat - Aug 31

16 miles

8th night - half way to Bakersfield


Half way from Delano to Bakersfield

Sun - Sep 1

16 miles

9th night in Bakersfield


125.8 miles

Mon - Sep 2



Action w/Rep. Kevin McCarthy

111 Miles in Solidarity with 11 Million

A Jesuit activist friend emailed me about a 285 mile Pilgrimage for a Pathway to Citizenship

A Jesuit educated Baptist activist friend emailed me about a 285 mile Pilgrimage for a Pathway to Citizenship. After reading his email I questioned myself if my response should be as a Muslim-at-peace or a citizen-agitated. Read the rest and tell me if my response was influenced by my faith or impacted by my agitation.

For almost two decades, I remain agitated for our nation's indifference toward the now demonized "un-documented," who were freely exploited from the valleys of California to the shores of Maine. And during these last twenty years, the poor and the un-documented became poorer and powerless while the plantation capitalists became richer and more indifferent. Some pundits even screamed from their bullhorns, that the un-documented are the "diseased aliens," not worthy of documentation, let alone any recognition. And, this makes me a citizen-agitated. 

For more than a millennium, my faith teaches me that "when you see a wrong, right it." This mandate is without an option for neutrality, let alone apathy.  The choices to right the wrong includes, “action," "speech" or "empathy," in that order. Action is considered to be an expression of the strongest of faith while empathy, though admirable is considered as the weakest expression of the faithful. And, this teaching makes me a Muslim-at-peace.

My agitation as a citizen and inspiration as a faithful now morally binds me to the more than 11 million undocumented women and men of myriad faiths and diverse tradition.

It is for these reasons I decided to join the pilgrimage for a pathway to citizenship and walk 111 miles in solidarity with and dignity for the 11 million undocumented women and men, young and old of our nation.

Along the way from August 24 to September 2, I will walk and learn their stories and share mine with them. Together, we will walk, pray and break bread. We will also sing and may even cry. But for the 10 days as a pilgrim for a pathway to citizenship, come what may - rain or shine, we will be one ... walking for respect and dignity and demanding honor and equality. And this, I believe could be a duty of every citizen, agitated or not and an obligation of each faithful, a Baptist or a Muslim!

I invite you to walk with me virtually by visiting this blog. Also, hold us in your thoughts and prayers. And if you cannot do either, I ask that you consider the following:

1. Write to Rep. Kevin McCarthy  or your legislator and ask them to support comprehensive immigration reform that includes pathway to citizenship without hurdles and obstavcles.

2. Help those who are helping others. Your contributions, however large or small, helps LA Voice to push  in making the Pathway to Citizenship, a Highway to Citizenship.