Awaken

p20

BURNING at the center
of mere being
there is a radiant star
blazing in all of its agony
to reveal a secret
that you never knew existed.

You are asleep
haunted by the phantoms
of illusory dream-world;
caught and entangled
in the chaos
of false liberation.

Awaken
to the sound of
shockwaves tearing
across the sky
as the whirling dervish rotates
with the dance of the universe;
pound the drum that stimulates
the mystery of heart and soul;
listen to the rhythm that pulsates
with mystic solar energy
of time immemorial.

You are dizzy
lost in this ecstatic high
ailing from confusion
the dervish says:
you have been drinking poison
all of your life
you have been a victim
of a sadistic science experiment
reprogrammed by greedy corporations
implanted with falsehood
artificiality of living
you are an android
dreaming to be
human.

Unplug yourself
From the lies
From deceit and deception
From the fear and misery
Unplug
From the system.

Come, this way
to the open field
where the blade of sunlight
pierces through darkness;
open your mouth
and drink some of this
become absorbed
in this hyper trance
turn, spin, whirl
up, down, left, right
let go
and become
nameless, faceless
directionless.

Discover your luminary self
conquer dizziness
burn through the shell
of temporal chrysalis;
radiate like celestial fire
emerge and bloom
into flowery madness.

Yes, you know who you are
You are here to set the world ablaze;
open your eyes
with the flame of ignited stars
and see the universe
that was created with One Divine Breath.

Inhale and exhale with that.

~BM~

New Blog

persian painting birds
Greetings everyone!

I have officially decided to start a new blog for a number of reasons.  As you can probably tell from my “About Me” page, “Broken Mystic” originally started off as a very personal and private blog.  Somehow, the blog evolved into a more social and political one, lol.  There’s nothing wrong with that because I think those posts show that I’m getting back on track with my life, alhamdullilah, but I just think this blog should be limited to my personal and private thoughts.

I will still blog here and cross-post my poetry, but I won’t post anything on politics, current events, feminism, and media literacy here anymore.  I really appreciate all the readers I have on this blog.  For a long time, your comments have been so encouraging, supportive, and thoughtful, and they really mean a lot.  Sometimes, I would come home and feel in a bad mood, but then I’ll check my e-mail and see a really nice comment on one of my posts that tell me to keep my chin up or to remind myself that I’m not alone.  I created this blog so that I could vent and recover from heartbreak, and it wouldn’t have been possible if I didn’t have the support of my friends and readers.  It might sound strange to some, but blogging can really make a difference!  Having said that, I would really Love to share my new blog with you all.

If you’re interested, you can either e-mail me or you can just leave a comment here and I will e-mail you!  Whichever one works for you :)

Thanks again!  Peace be upon you, from my heart to yours.

They Called Me a “Spic”

jzovechkin2

Over the past week, my friends and I have been playing on a new roller hockey court that isn’t too far from my house.  Prior to that, we’ve been playing on a relatively unused basketball court (pictured above) for months, which has been fun for recreational hockey/pick-up games, but we really wanted to play on a better surface and actually use a puck instead of a ball.

We finally found a roller hockey court where a good number of people play at.  Although competitive, no one plays a rough game, there are people of all ages, and unsurprisingly, everyone is White.  Except for me (also pictured above) and my brother.  Being the only person of color at a hockey court isn’t something new to me.  When I played for an in-line roller hockey league in high school, I found myself getting self-conscious about it when people, including my teammates, would poke fun at my first and last name.  I remember one time, a couple of kids I played hockey with called me a “a stupid Afghanistanian” when I was carrying my hockey gear off the court.

I find myself operating under White gaze a lot, if not always, especially when I’m playing hockey with people I don’t know.  I can’t help but think about how they perceive me, a brown-skinned man, playing a sport that is filled with predominately White athletes (at least here in the United States and with what we see in the NHL).  If my friends and I are playing hockey on our old basketball court, I don’t feel like I’m going to be judged if I’m wearing my Pakistani cricket jersey or my Egypt and Turkey soccer shirts.  I don’t worry about it because I’m playing with my friends — people I know.  But when it comes to going on this new hockey court, I feel that if I wear a jersey that says “Pakistan” on it, people will be gunning for me or treating me in a rude way.

Maybe I’m thinking and assuming way too much, right?  Wrong.  Yesterday, before I went to the new hockey court, I swapped my red Egypt soccer jersey for a red Nautica t-shirt.  I figured, “I don’t want to deal with people giving me smack about my shirt saying ‘Egypt’ or making some stupid racial slur or whatever.”  I got to the court, laced up, and said “hi” and “what’s up” and “how’s it going, man” to all of the people there.  Everyone was friendly, conversational, and pretty much just wanted to have fun.  So far so good, I thought.

Since there were so many people, we played with line changes, and I think I played at least six shifts the entire day.  I ended up doing really well too and scored four goals.  When everyone packed up to leave, my friends and I said “good game” to everyone and that was the end of that.  Fun day, right?  Well, today, my friends and I played at the court again and a friend of mine told me, “Oh man, I have to tell you something.  When you scored your second or third goal yesterday, this kid on the bench said, “f****** spic!”  My friend said he was going to say something, but before he could, someone shouted at him and said, “yo, watch your language!”

It kind of messed up the rest of my day.  I’ve noticed that some people at that court try to play more aggressive against me (as opposed to others), and it could be because I stick-handle really well and they’re just trying to steal the puck from me, but then there’s another part of me thinks it’s because of my skin color.  Playing hockey for a long time in my life means I’m familiar with how the frustration and aggression levels can rise when you’re on the losing team or not performing as well as you would like to.  When you factor in a brown guy scoring most of the goals for the other team, would it be wrong to assume that the frustration could build into a racial slur?

The word choice of the person who delivered the racial slur just shows us even more how racists don’t even know who they hate.  It shows how ignorant, childish, and idiotic they are.  I am familiar with the racial slur, I know it’s directed towards people of Hispanic descent, but since this is the first time I was called it, I decided to run a few online searches just to read about it’s origins and use.   Reading about it just made me angrier and I don’t think it’s appropriate to share that information here.

I don’t care if people mistaken me for another race, there isn’t anything wrong with being Latino, Asian, Arab, or anything else.  What is offensive is when people use racial slurs — there is simply no excuse for it.  It’s offensive, it’s racist, it’s flat-out wrong.  If he thought I was Arab, he would have used another racial slur; if he thought I was South Asian (which is what I am), he would have had a racial slur for that too.  The point I’m trying to illustrate here is that I refused to wear a “team Egypt” soccer jersey for the sake of avoiding ethnic/religious stereotypes, but since I’m brown-skinned, I ended up getting stereotyped anyway.  How do you hide your skin color, right?  Thank God that I don’t wish I could hide my skin color, but what about the people who do wish they could hide their skin color just for the sake of avoiding conflict?  Maybe there are times when I do feel that way.

If there is something positive that came out of this, it’s that it reminded me that people of color face similar struggles.  I would say that most people assume I’m Indian (which is correct and incorrect at the same time, lol), but there have been a few people who mistook me for Latino, Arab, and even Greek.  When I hear a racial slur that is used against other people of color, it not only angers me, but also makes me think about the struggles they experience.  There are so many different stereotypes applied to all of us and they are experiences that we all share.  Most of the time, when I’m sharing some of my experiences with racism with a fellow person of color, I feel comfortable because I feel like they can empathize and understand where I’m coming from.  This person who used that disgusting word may have thought that it was “ok” or “acceptable” to use it, but I doubt he understands how hurtful it is.

I try to stay positive about it all.  At least someone on the bench told him to shut up, right?  Much Love to everyone who has experienced any form of discrimination, hate, or racist bigotry in their lives.  Keep your chin up, friends.

Feeling the Hate in Jerusalem

Wow, and I thought I was harsh on Obama.  Isn’t it interesting that there are people on the Left who think Obama is just another Bush, while there are others on the Right who absolutely abhor him because they think he’s a “secret Muslim” (laugh) or the, ahem, “anti-Christ”?  I wouldn’t go as far as saying that Obama is exactly like Bush, but I’m not overly enthusiastic about him either.  Yes, his speech was brilliant and beautiful, but let’s see how he follows up on his words before we start leaping for joy, shall we?

Anyway, I found this clip almost immediately after I watched Obama’s speech in Cairo.   Before you watch it, just be warned that it contains excessive profanity, offensive racial slurs, and homophobic remarks.  It’s also very important to keep in mind that these individuals do not represent the opinions of all Jews.  The people in this clip are obviously ignorant, childish, and poorly educated, so it would be foolish and counter-productive to associate them with Judaism.

At the same time, this video is important to share because it shows the kind of tension and animosity that exists concerning diplomacy with Muslim nations.  Remember when the mainstream western media showed video clips of Palestinians dancing in the streets after the 9/11 attacks?  It created the perception that all Muslims and Arabs rejoice whenever Americans and/or Jews suffer.  It told us that non-Muslim Americans and Jews were innocent and morally superior to Muslims.  Why do we only see Palestinians doing horrible things in the news?  Why don’t we see things like this video clip of American Jews and Israelis making racist comments?  Will that hurt the “good guy/bad guy” image it’s been trying to promote for the past 8 years?

Don’t count on seeing this clip on CNN.

Open Discussion: President Obama’s Speech in Cairo

President+Barack+Obama+Makes+Key+Speech+Cairo+XGVib4N-h75l

Also published on Islam on My Side.

President Obama delivered a very moving and powerful speech in Cairo on June 4th, 2009.  The speech focused primarily on improving American and Muslim relations, but also addressed issues such as the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as well as the situation in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

I admit that it was heartening and emotional to hear Obama cite so many verses from the Holy Qur’an, as well as referring to the miracle of al-Isra, the Night Journey, in which the Prophet Muhammad journeyed to the seven heavens and met with Jesus, Moses, and Abraham, peace be upon them all.  When Obama said “peace be upon them” after mentioning these Prophets, there was enormous applause from the audience because the attendees, as well as Muslims all around the world, knew exactly what it meant:  Respect.

It was also nice to hear Obama stress on the importance of Islam being part of America.  He acknowledged the contributions of Islamic civilization, particularly in mathematics, science, poetry, architecture, and music.  When he spoke of Israel and Palestine, he emphasized on a two-state solution and recognized the struggles that both Israelis and Palestinians face.  For many Muslims, the Israeli-Palestinian crisis is crucial simply because U.S. foreign policy has been overwhelmingly supportive (politically, militarily, and economically) of Israel while vilifying and ignoring the plights of Palestinians.

Although there were many times during the speech where it seemed like Obama was hesitant to acknowledge certain atrocities, such as Israel’s recent airstrike on Gaza, it was at least refreshing to hear a U.S. president recognize the Palestinian humanitarian crisis.  I really liked when he said “children of Abraham,” because that kind of language speaks to the hearts of inter-faith communities around the world.

While citing the Qur’an and reaching out to Muslim majority countries displays the President’s desire to improve relations, it’s important to stay mindful that actions speak louder than words.  As Tariq Ramadan mentions in his recent article, “Obama’s speech to Muslims will mean little if its symbolism is not followed up by concrete measures to restore trust.”  In no way am I trying to deny Obama’s efforts, but rather I’m simply pointing out that I truly hope he follows up on his words.

What are your thoughts?  If you missed the President’s speech, you can watch it below (it’s divided into 6 parts):

Watch Part 2
Watch Part 3
Watch Part 4
Watch Part 5
Watch Part 6

What Are Arabs Supposed to Look Like?

NHL/

Justin Abdelkader, the 22-year old rookie center for the Detroit Red Wings, scored two consecutive insurance goals in Games 1 and 2 of the Stanley Cup finals against the Pittsburgh Penguins. Abdelkader, who was called in as a replacement for an injured Tomas Kopecky, plays on Detroit’s fourth line and is making unexpected headlines with his first, and timely, NHL career goals.

As you can probably tell by his surname (which NHL commentators hilariously mispronounce) there is another exciting fact about Justin Abdelkader: He is of Jordanian descent. The last time I heard about an Arab ice hockey player was when Ramzi Abid (a Muslim of Tunisian descent) played for the Nashville Predators. Abid no longer plays in the NHL, so from what I understand, Abdelkader is currently the only Arab in the league.

As I ran searches to learn more about Abdelkader’s ethnic background, I came across many comments on internet forums and fan websites that said, “He doesn’t look Arab at all” or he is the “least-Arabic looking person with an Arabic last name.” These comments reminded me of an article I read a few years ago called “What Does a Muslim Look Like?” by Mona Eltahawy, an Egyptian-American Muslim, where she writes about the stereotypical images of Muslims that many non-Muslims expect to see based upon limited media coverage and representation. I saw one comment on a forum that read, “[Abdelkader] definitely doesn’t look Muslim.” No, Abdelkader is not Muslim, but even so, what is a Muslim supposed to look like? Islam is a religion open to all people, regardless of ethnicity. There is no such thing as a “Muslim look.” In response to those who say Abdelkader “doesn’t look” Arab: What is an Arab supposed to look like?

Confusion regarding Abdelkader’s appearance and Arab background stems from the stereotype that all Arabs are dark-skinned. What seems to be overlooked (and perhaps unknown to many people) is that the Arab world consists of 25 countries populated by cultural, religious, and genetic diversity. It’s not uncommon to see some fair-skinned Arabs like Justin Abdelkader in countries like Syria, Lebanon, Palestine, and Jordan. For history buffs out there, this shouldn’t come to a surprise since those regions were colonized and ruled by Western imperialism and empires several times throughout history (Romans, Greeks, Crusaders, French colonialists). On the other hand, Arabs from North Africa (like the aforementioned Ramzi Abid) and the Gulf areas tend to be darker-skinned.

Of course, this is not to say all Arabs from Lebanon, Syria, Palestine, and Jordan are light-skinned. For instance, there are some Syrian Muslims at my Mosque who are blonde-haired and light-skinned, and there are some who are dark-skinned. What also needs to be factored in is the possibility that Justin Abdelkader’s grandmother is not Arab, since it is only reported that Justin’s grandfather is Jordanian. Regardless, when we make statements like, “He doesn’t look Arab,” we’re reinforcing the stereotype that Arabs have a certain or specific “look.” It also underlines the immense amount of influence that the media has played in shaping our perception of Arabs.

At the 2009 CAIR (Council on American-Islamic Relations) banquet in Springfield, Pennsylvania, Arab-American comedian, Dean Obeidallah, pointed out that since he doesn’t fit the stereotype of how an Arab is “supposed to look like,” many people have made racial slurs about Arabs around him. When he told them he was Arab, they replied, “You don’t freakin’ look like it!”

On a positive note, it’s great to see an Arab-American like Justin Abdelkader making a notable presence in the NHL. The recent spotlight on him is an excellent way to break stereotypes about Arabs, especially for those who may not personally know or interact with many Arabs.

Enjoy watching his awesome first goal in game 1:

An Unforgettable Night With “Bat for Lashes”

UWJpChn7tR

Earlier this month, I went to see one of my favorite musicians, Natasha Khan (aka “Bat for Lashes”) perform live at the First Unitarian Church in Philadelphia.  It was definitely one of the most unforgettable musical experiences I’ve ever had.

I wanted to attend the concert with some of my friends, but everyone I called that day were either busy or out of town, so I decided to go by myself.  While I would have liked it if someone came along with me, I think going alone made the experience that much better.  It gave me some personal time to privately connect with the music and escape with it.  It’s hard to describe or even categorize the music of “Bat for Lashes” because of how unique they are, but if I were to draw comparisons, I would say they’re like a cross between the “Cocteau Twins,” “Bjork,” and “Claire Voyant.”  It was amazing to see Natasha Khan’s energy on stage; you can tell how passioante she is about performing and singing.  She has an incredibly beautiful voice and unlike most mainstream singers, she doesn’t manipulate or alter her voice.  The way she sounds on the album recordings is exactly how she sounds live.

There are a lot of magical themes in Natasha’s music and it’s something I appreciate enormously.  I think a fantasy element is essential to us, and yet it seems that humanity runs away from it.  I’ve noticed, especially in the academic setting, that people tend to take on a more “logical” and “rational” approach to things, which is fine, but whenever a spiritual perspective is suggested, it seems there’s often a negative reaction to it, as if spirituality is something reserved only for places of worship.  I get a strong spiritual vibe from Natasha’s music, but I think there’s a unique fantasy element that is intertwined with it.

When we “grow up,” we detach ourselves from fairy tales because we learn that they’re not “real” — “real” in the sense that we cannot see a unicorn or actually fly out of our windows.  In the midst of this reasoning, I believe we miss out on the point of these stories, particularly the beauty and gift of the human imagination.  I believe everyone has an inner life that serves a significant purpose in the way we look at the world, interact with others, and manifest our own creativity.  Our ability to imagine things, to me, is not so much about seeing than it is about believing.  Sure, there’s escape and fantasy, but there’s something else there that connects with us deeply, something that evokes the importance of transcendence.   We’re surrounded by superficiality all the time and yet I believe a lot of us remain confused about what is “real” and what is “unreal.”  True Love versus the material world — both things are perceived as unreal to us, but in different contexts.  We think True Love cannot exist because it’s just too good to be true, but mostly because of the superficiality that surrounds us.  It doesn’t make True Love false, it simply reveals that True Love is something to be discovered amidst the illusions of the world.

Natasha Khan sings about things that many of us don’t believe in anymore.  She calls us to return to our childood, to revisit forgotten fairy tales, and to learn there is purpose in believing.  I let my imagination take flight after the concert was over as I walked towards my car in the parking lot.  I was reminded of the Angels that sit upon my shoulders and guard me.  I imagined them and reflected on how much we ignore the unseen reality.  I was reminded that we have friends in the unseen world; friends who never want us to see us frown or feel alone.

I also have to say that it meant a lot to see a fellow Pakistani on stage (Natasha Khan’s father is Pakistani) and seeing so many people who appreciate her music.  I read in an interview that she received a lot of racial slurs when she was younger and it’s really repulsive when I see the same remarks being made about her on some of the YouTube comments.  On the bright side, it’s nice to see people taking a stand for her and showing their support.  I’m sure that, for the most part, she’s breaking a lot of stereotypes.

Here’s a live performance piece by “Bat for Lashes” that I’ve been hooked to!  Definitely check out 2:57 and onward — everything from Natasha Khan’s energy, vocals, the incredible drumming, and the synth work works in beautiful harmony:

A Mirror for You

Morning_Star
In her silent glow
the full moon shines
with her Creator’s beauty

She knows you wander down below
feeling so helpless
and wounded in the dark

Look how He made me, she says
so radiant and beautiful
serving as a mirror for you

The violet stars can feel your heart tremble
who taught you to be afraid of the dark, azizam?
bring your gaze here and dive into moonlight

Become my guest on this lonely night
and see the Creator’s work in you
look into yourself to see Him

Realize…

You,
like the moon,
luminous and beautiful

~Broken Mystic~

Delirium

+Master Doorkeeper b
The mystics invited me to their gathering
On the way, a strange man met me on the road
He stood before me, eclipsing the sun in his black robes
He said, “Come to the carnival instead”

I followed him like a ghost crossing into another world
Where everything is spoken through symbols and metaphor
I watched as we passed through the crowded fair
Of old and young lost in the recreation of ancient folklore

Wizards with their tarot cards, magicians in medieval costumes
Mimes trapped in their imaginary prisons
Fire breathers lighting up the sky in wonder
Appearing like dragons in the imagination of children

A sun-colored butterfly fluttered amidst the strange
I followed its flight to a stone-faced audience
Watching the puppet show of Crusaders and Saracens
Hypnotized by the centuries of cruelty and violence

My eyes sank in sorrow
Not realizing that the man I came with
Vanished into the unknown
Leaving only a compass around my neck

It pointed to a tall, thin man watching me with his gothic eyes
A crystal ball levitating in the palm of his hand
I looked inside and saw myself soaring through clouded skies
He veiled the image and invited me into the large tent behind him

“Come, step inside,” he said

Walking through, I listened to the magical bells
Echoing in peaceful jubilee
As a garden bloomed on the concert stage
With rose petals raining like dream-like fantasy

A young girl dressed as a princess
Whirling beneath the falling tulips
With a halo hovering over her head
And a precious smile painted on her lips

She reminds me of the ocean’s dance
When I was another child
Dreaming about portals in the sea
And escaping far, far away into self-exile

For a moment, it was all happiness and bliss
Like living in a floating sphere vibrant with color
Like beautiful words blown into the wind
Touching skin and heart softly like an Angel’s kiss

But how transitory that was
When the wild lights began to spiral
And I heard those crazy circus clowns
Laughing wickedly on their unicycles

Their laughter reminds me of hellfire
Roaring through those endless fields of mine
Burning every flower, slaughtering every dream
Leaving nothing left to grow, nothing left to find

They juggled their sharp and deadly blades
Grinning at the audience like cardboard cartoons
Each dagger spinning and slicing through the air
I can only hear violence and murder in their tune

As if they were putting on a sadistic show
Where I was the dummy flown to the highest cloud
Only to have my strings cut and fall below
Deep into the heart of the darkest abyss

I left the tent, not wanting to stay any longer
Yet it were gypsy strings that called me to another street
Beyond the ferris wheel where families gathered
Beyond the swan boats where Lovers drifted upon the lake

I saw the fiddle player sitting upon a stage
Next to a luminous unicorn glowing like a star in Heaven
A magician bowed her head as the marveled audience clapped
Her eyes searched through the sea of faces and met mine in unison

She smiled and said, “I need a volunteer”

As if it was instinct and meant to be
I rose my hand and made my way through the masses
She opened her hand, waiting for me
Like a savior offering eternal refuge and escape

Our fingers touched, our hands merged
I felt my heart tremble as a current rippled inside
She drew me silently up the steps
Like I was the seeker and she the guide

“This Way,” she whispered
While walking me to a double-sided door
Nothing behind it, nothing within
Just a frame of wood, nothing more

She wrapped a blindfold around my eyes
Mystified and blinded in darkness
She told me I could remove it soon
After I opened the door and walked inside

I took my careful steps, hoping for answers
And closed the door behind me
I finally removed the blindfold
Only to find myself in a hall of spiraling mirrors

I turned around and reached for the knob
But watched it unscrew and fall to the crimson floor
Pounding at the door, I heard nothing from the other side
The past sealed shut – no other way but forward

I walked to the center of the room
Watching infinite reflections follow myself
Gazing deep into my own eyes, I saw a storm gather
The joys, the pain, the misery, the light, the gloom

I became lost in my own self
Not wanting the heart’s agony anymore
A desire to flee from this shell swept over me
A desire I never recognized before

I thought to myself and longed for escape:

I’d rather be a statue in the water fountain
Engraved with a smile on my face
Handing out roses to the lonely souls
Who just want to live in a beautiful place

I’d rather be a voice in your mind
Telling you that it’s going to be ok
As you drive home alone late at night
Dwelling on your sorrows and contemplating suicide

I’d rather be the ever-present spirit of Love
Holding you in arms, whispering comfort in your ears
As you weep over your broken heart
And wallow in unwanted fear

I’d rather be a guardian Angel
For an innocent prisoner sitting on death row
Adoring her paintings and releasing her from the shackles
Carrying her beautiful soul into the next life

I’d rather be a drop of rain
Kissing your cheek for comfort
Or a ray of light from the sun
Reminding your heart that it will shine again

I’d rather be the gentle breeze blowing through your hair
Accompanied by the magical tune of the santour
A sheet of wind wrapping around you
Carrying your imagination to a distant seashore

I’d rather be a vision of a better world
Rushing into the arms of artists and activists
Celebrating in tears of joy as each and every dream
Is made real and manifest

I’d rather feel nothing
No anger, no hate, no pain
No one to hurt, no one to blame
Nothing to take, nothing to gain

“I” would rather not exist

And suddenly, the hallway erupted in laughter
My eyes darted down both ends of the room
Before realizing it came from my reflection in the mirror
“Why do you laugh?” I ask

“Because you are the real lunatic,” he answered
Mysteriously, he stepped out of the reflection
Standing in front of me, he said: “Yet you remain a coward”
“For all you know how to do is merely speak of non-existence”

Without warning, like a being possessed
I broke the mirror with my fist
And with one swift motion
I slit my clone’s throat with a blade of glass

The blood splashed on the mirrors
The entire glass hallway shattered – Kshhh!!
The pieces flew into my skin
As the ground beneath me shook like an earthquake

I fell through the floor
And found myself tumbling through outer space
Debris floating around me as I plunged deeper
I became surrounded by stars, distant planets and nebulae

Comets, meteors, galaxies whirling in darkness
I spun like a pinwheel, spiraling in every direction
My arms extending, my fingers reaching
Reaching for something in desperation

Reaching for Love, hope, beauty
For happiness, joy, euphoria
For peace, balance, tranquility
For life, home – something, anything!

My skin turning pale
My body surrendering
My blood freezing to ice
My heart beginning to fail

A voice enters my mind – Look, over here!
I turn and see Simurgh – my old Friend
Soaring through the heavens like a shooting star
Oh, Simurgh, I thought you were dead

Carried by the solar winds
She swoops above me – bloodied from our past
Before I could smile, her talons dig into my chest
And violently tears me open

My screams suffocated by the cosmic void
Only tears and blood can trickle from my eyes
When murdered by the Friend of Love
Only the soul can fill the universe with my endless cries

Amidst the pain, I heard sound emerge in space
I saw Simurgh pulling stars with her flapping wings
Energy and light – They raced in my direction!
I heard music! – Like a symphony of strings!

Luminous orbs of plasma gathering like an ocean
And swirling like a solar typhoon
I heard them whistling through the dark
As they charged towards my open wound

I heard the orchestra’s crescendo
The chant of mystics resounding
The passion drums pounding
Duum! Duum! Duum!

I understood now
As the realization came to me
“Death before death”
The Way to eternity

O Giver of Love and Mercy!
You have cut me open
Pull Your storm
Into me

Flames shooting out of my eyes
And infinite rays of light beaming in every direction
As my heart swallowed Heaven’s fire
Every star filling me with divine resurrection

I have exploded into infinity
Sailing to that Love I cannot name
Expanding forever with the universe
Bidding farewell to yesterday’s “me”

And upon those memories of sorrow, I smile at you

I am Supernova
And you are Stargazer
Watch the multi-colored flame
Of my Being shine anew

~ Broken Mystic~

Don Cherry’s Xenophobic Remarks on Ovechkin Should Not Be Tolerated

ovechkin

Someone needs to call Don Cherry out on his childish xenophobic rants.  Regarded as a legendary ice hockey analyst and Canadian icon, Don Cherry is known for his often inflammatory and controversial remarks, but it seems that the general public recurrently lets his ethnocentric diatribes slide rather than holding him accountable.

For years, Cherry has been characterizing European players as “cowards” for not understanding the “Canadian way” of hockey.  When asked to comment on why he didn’t have any European players on his junior team, he said, “They call me a racist because I don’t want any Europeans coming to play for my Ice Dogs. If a kid comes over here and becomes a Canadian, I’ll put him on in a minute. But I will not parachute him in so that he can grab the money and run.”  Cherry took similar jabs at the dazzling Czech center, Jaromir Jagr, accusing him of being “everything that’s wrong with the NHL.  He gets hit, he goes down and stays there. Get up!”  In the same interview, Cherry compared Jagr to another hockey legend, Tim Horton, a player who, according to Cherry, would stay on the ice and finish his shift even if “blood would be coming down his face.”  Apparently, Cherry thinks only Canadians know how to play “tough.”

So what’s eating at Don Cherry these days?  See number 8 on the Washington Capitals, a remarkably talented Russian left-winger named Alexander Ovechkin. Actually, to say he is “remarkably talented” is an understatement.  The guy is a magician with the puck and arguably the most exciting player to watch in the NHL today.  Playing in his fourth season, Ovechkin not only led the league in goals, but he has also earned his place in the pantheon of hockey superstars.  Cherry’s beef?  Ovechkin’s goal celebrations are too “over-the-top.”  That’s right.  Ovechkin’s enthusiasm is too much for Cherry’s “Canadian” standards.

On CBC’s Hockey Night in Canada, Cherry complained that Ovechkin was acting like “those goofy soccer guys” by “jumping up and down” after scoring goals.  In pure dogmatic fashion, Cherry pointed at the screen and lectured Canadian kids not to act like Ovechkin.  Instead, he tells kids that they should behave the “Canadian way” and act like Joe Thornton, Joe Sakic, Brendan Shanahan, Jarome Iginla, and Bobby Orr (all Canadian-born players).  I didn’t realize the NHL had a “Canadians only” stamp on it.

What’s more disturbing is how ethnocentric and racist Cherry’s presentation is.  He shows clips of dark-skinned international soccer players jubilantly celebrating on the field, calls them “goofs” and says, “Look at this! This is what we want our hockey players to act with?”  Then he shows clips of Ovechkin’s celebrations and yammers, “Look at this!  Does he not remind you of a soccer player?”  For those who missed it, here is the clip:

Cherry receives plenty of criticism for his remarks, but the problem is not just his unapologetic ego, it’s also how the media and the NHL simply brush off his words as if they don’t generate negative and stereotypical perceptions of European players (or any player who is not from North America).  On the CBC Sports website, Cherry is showcased for his opinionated views, no matter how bigoted or how xenophobic, but the line needs to be drawn somewhere.  Cherry undeniably crossed it right here (and it isn’t the first time either, he once went as far as saying Russian players have “zero heart”).  Not holding him accountable is to ignore the weight of the issue altogether.

Around college campuses and street hockey courts, I hear hockey fans debating about Ovechkin’s exuberant celebrations.  I’ve been watching ice hockey since 1997 when the Philadelphia Flyers went to the Stanley Cup finals (and were swept by the Detroit Red Wings), and I’ve never heard this kind of debate before.  It’s no doubt that the “celebration controversy” was generated by Don Cherry’s commentary, but whether people realize it or not, it reinforces this new idea that there is a Canadian/North American “unwritten law” on how hockey players are supposed to celebrate goals.  When Ovechkin scored his 50th goal of the season, Cherry ripped on Ovechkin’s “hot stick” celebration and had these words for the young star, “Have a little class and do it right.”  In other words:  Be Canadian, otherwise you’re “threatening” the “Canadian way” of hockey and aren’t worthy of admiration or praise.  It’s sort of like the Bush administration on ice.

The fact of the matter is that many aspiring hockey players admire Alexander Ovechkin, not because of his nationality, but for his extraordinary display of talent and leadership.  What worries me is how people like Don Cherry want to make Ovechkin’s nationality an issue.  It seems that he wants us to perceive Ovechkin’s style of play as “foreign” and “un-Canadian,” while making us forget the fact that Canadian-born players such as Theoren Fluery, Tiger Williams, Wayne Gretzky, and countless others have also displayed plenty of dramatic celebrations in the past.

Dictating how NHL players should celebrate their goals isn’t so much about hockey than it is about fascism.  Calling all European players “cowards,” accusing them of having no “heart,” and then comparing them with “goofy” dark-skinned soccer players is not about hockey either.  It’s called racism.  If Don Cherry is not held accountable, then what’s to stop him and other sports commentators from making racially charged statements about athletes outside of North America?  What’s to stop the xenophobia and ethnocentrism from spilling out on the ice?  Everyone remembers what happened to that other Don (Imus), right?

It’s funny because amidst all this controversy, whether its Cherry yapping on about the “Canadian” way of hockey or our generation’s hockey fans engaging in superficial debates about goal celebrations, a simple truth lies beneath it all:  Alexander Ovechkin is one of the greatest players to have ever played the game.

Great athletes don’t always have to be North American.

~Broken Mystic~

« Older entries

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 65 other followers