Mino Farooq Akhtar October 30, 2018
The last time I sat on an early morning Pascack Valley commuter train to Hoboken was in the mid-90’s- an era suffused with the glow of optimism and progress, quite a contrast to the gloom and doom environment of today. But more about that later. It felt so good today to get up early, get dressed, have my tea and sit with so many commuters making their way into New York City. Of course, their purpose was to get to work, while mine is to help my daughter Sonia twice a week as Nani (mother’s mother) or Nanny or Grandma twice a week. I am very excited for this new chapter in my life and thankful to have the opportunity not only to help but shape a fresh new life on this planet. What a privilege, honor and sheer luck that my 7th grandchild too is within daily commuting distance!
As I observe the commuters around me of all ages, I feel lucky that I can zoom out and reflect on my long corporate experience in Manhattan. I hope they all know how great the American Corporate experience can be at the level of the individual- the opportunity to grow, contribute, develop and learn are limitless! Of course, at the macro level, we now know that society as a whole may not benefit from the “corporate system”, with its lack of social awareness and unsustainable practices due to its single-minded focus on short-term profits.
Yesterday, my weekly TED talk was by an Israeli historian – Yuval Harari- who has written two books: Sapiens and Homo Deus. His long-term projection for the human race is quite sobering and scary as he predicts that technological disruption and climate change will leave millions more jobless and angrier than now. However, his ending note was that because technology has made most of us “disembodied”, we now have to look inward and reconnect with our conscience, our ability to feel and to connect. I liked that slight glimmer of hope, as that is what I believe and work for.
As we approached Hoboken terminal, the sun was coming up and reflecting a beautiful orange/yellow glow on the New York City skyline, an my own hopes rose- the homo sapiens of tomorrow, like my granddaughter Nyla and her cousins will chart a better path to the future than where Professor Harari says we are headed. And what better act to engage in human connection and community, whether caring for an infant or an elderly, a pet or a garden, a faith or interfaith community, whether gathering to say NO to hate.
Shahid and I had attended a Peace Vigil last night at the Jewish Community Center in Tenafly NJ for the 11 victims of terrorism (notice no one does or should ever say white Christian terrorism) at a Pittsburgh synagogue. 500 people of all faiths, Senators and Congressmen had gathered to mourn and to stand together against hate. Many of the speakers said that the attack was not just on the Jewish people, but all people of all faiths and backgrounds which is why it is so important to stand up, act and seed the toxic breeding ground with love, compassion and understanding. And then I read that the Muslim community in Pittsburgh has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for the victims of the attack. This is the true American spirit I thought, and we have to hold on fast to that.