Tag Archive | "Activist"

Muhammad Ali: January 17, 1942 – June 3rd, 2016


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From David Anthony Hohol…

Today a small piece of me passed away. Very few times in life do people have the chance to witness real heroism and true bravery. Muhammad Ali was man who gave us both. He was a genuine hero to me from the youngest of ages and I was blessed to have had the chance to witness at least part of what was an amazing life – a truly global life that influenced so many the world over. He will always be the Greatest of All Time. The world simply does not produce many like him and he will be missed by all those he touched. I miss him already.

Born on January 17th 1942, Muhammad Ali’s part time job was being the 3-time heavyweight Champion of the world. In reality, he was a politician, a diplomat, a social activist, a poet and a living breathing inspiration to people around the globe. Before or since, there has never been an individual who has fused sports and politics to such incredible depths, reaching unimaginable heights in the process. When this writer was just a young boy, I read the following words from Ali in a newspaper story. Immediately thereafter and forever since, I’ve been enthralled by the man:

Impossible is just a big word thrown around by small men who find it easier to live in the world they’ve been given, than to explore the power they have to change it. Impossible is not a fact. It’s an opinion. Impossible is not a declaration. It’s a dare. Impossible is potential. Impossible is temporary. Impossible is nothing.”

Although I was old enough to witness his recapturing of the heavyweight crown from Leon Spinx, Ali’s career was already winding down when I discovered him.  That being said, I became a student of history, watching documentaries, reading books and talking to both my father and grandfathers about a man who somehow became so very important to small town Canadian farm boy not yet ten years old. As I began to make my way through my teens, I slowly came to realize the political landscape Ali so daringly traversed in his day and he roused my independent spirit even more. By the the time I grew into a man, I found myself standing before the life of Muhammad Ali in awe.

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The following is an Ali quote after being stripped of his boxing license in 1967 for refusing induction into the Army in protest against the Vietnam War. Keep in mind blacks were not even allowed to vote in America until 1960 and segregation was still commonplace in many parts of the country at this time:

 

“I ain’t draft dodging. I ain’t burning no flag. I ain’t running to Canada. I’m staying right here. You want to send me to jail? Fine, you go right ahead. I’ve been in jail for 400 years. I could be there for 4 or 5 more, but I ain’t going no 10,000 miles to help murder and kill other poor people. If I want to die, I’ll die right here, right now, fightin’ you, if I want to die. You my enemy, not no Chinese, no Vietcong, no Japanese. You my opposer when I want freedom. You my opposer when I want justice. You my opposer when I want equality. Want me to go somewhere and fight for you? You won’t even stand up for me right here in America, for my rights and my religious beliefs. You won’t even stand up for my rights here at home.”

I remember feeling goose bumps when I watched the grainy video of Ali walking out of the courtroom and ranting, unrehearsed and off the cuff, challenging the status quo, unafraid to be who he was, and living out loud what he believed. I was inspired not to box, (although I did for a time) but to stand up for myself, to say what I wanted, to do what I wanted, and to be what wanted to be. He came of age in a time of change and was not afraid to be suffer the consequences of chasing after it, of pioneering it, of being the living embodiment of the change he wanted to see in the world around him. How can one not be inspired by his story?

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Below, minus the two epic quotations above and in no discernible order, are ten memorable Muhammad Ali Quotes. Every single one of them transfers beyond the ring and into the very human experience of living life . What a giant of a man he truly was, the likes of which we will never see again.

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  1. Only a man who knows what it’s like to be defeated can reach down to the bottom of his soul and come up with the extra ounce of power it takes to win.”
  2. “You lose nothing when fighting for a cause … In my mind the losers are those who don’t have a cause they care about.”
  3. “The man with no imagination has no wings.”
  4. “Inside of a ring or out, ain’t nothing wrong with going down. It’s staying down that’s wrong.”
  5. “If my mind can conceive it, and my heart can believe it – then I can achieve it.”
  6. “The best way to make your dreams come true is to wake up.”
  7. “He who’s not courageous enough to take risks will accomplish nothing in life”
  8. “To be a great champion you must believe you are the best. If you’re not, pretend you are.”
  9. “Champions aren’t made in gyms. Champions are made from something they have deep inside them – a desire, a dream, a vision. They have to have the skill, and the will. But the will must be stronger than the skill.”
  10. “I hated every minute of training, but I said, ‘Don’t quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion’.”

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My Guardian, My Dictator


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From Saudi Arabian Correspondent Eman Al Nafjan…

In Saudi Arabia this past August a campaign was launched titled “My Guardian Knows What’s Best for Me”. The aim of the campaign is to stand against women who are demanding to be treated as adults. Yes you read it right, a campaign that demands that the status quo remains as is. The campaign is headed by two  princesses and has two rivaling websites. And since it has gotten a lot of attention and some rumors that the two princesses were fighting over whose idea it was, the “Who are we” page has been taken down on one of them. The goal of the campaign is to gather one million signatures from Saudi women who support it. On the bottom of the main page of the weaker website is a button that says click to vote and when you click it, it automatically counts as a vote of support! The other website’s button actually asks for specifics like name and city. The stronger website is here and the weaker one here.

Below I’ve translated Dr. Elham Manea’s piece on the hows and whys of this campaign: 

I swear I almost smiled, but how could I smile?
Then I said to myself, that people are people, in their wisdom or weakness, here or there, no difference.
So I contemplated rather than smile.

Some Saudi women have decided to express themselves.
They wanted to take a stand against human rights activists calling for Saudi Arabia to give women some (not all) of the rights that are enjoyed by their Arab counterparts in neighboring countries. So they came out with a new campaign titled “My Guardian Knows What’s Best for Me”.  
Do we blame them? All they wanted was to fix a problem they know nothing of, and thus made it worse.  It would be strange to expect anything else from them. You cannot miss what you’ve never had.

Most of them belong to the Saudi aristocrats. Their leader is a princess. Their hands are velvet. They live in palaces and villas. How could we blame them for not knowing the reality of average Saudi women?

These campaigner are only worried about Saudi women. They are protecting women from themselves.They are protecting us from activists, activists who have lived the reality of being a Saudi woman in the East, West, North and South of Saudi Arabia. They know how we suffer, and how we are subjected to humiliation on a daily basis. Luckily, these activists are not princesses.

These activists believe we should be treated as adults and humans and not as children and minors, and not as digraces to be covered. Activists who are tired of this reality of suffering and daily humiliation and so they call for the guardian system to be absolved.

These campaigners who stand againsts activists see nothing strange in the fact that we are the only Muslim country that bans women driving. Isn’t it funny that Saudi Arabia is unique in this odd religious aspect? But it has always been so. They don’t wonder as to how a woman’s freedom in our country has been choked and strangled a thousand times over,so that the poor soul cannot make a move without a male’s permission, a male who’s only distinction is his genitals. To the degree that we see nothing weird about a twenty year old being reprimanded by her ten year old brother.

My guardian knows what’s best for me, seriously?!

They do not see anything strange in that the women of their country cannot make the smallest move without their guardian’s permission. They have no right to leave their houses, to study, to go to a clinic…without their guardian’s permission. And the guardian is a woman’s father, brother or any related male until she marries. And then her guardian becomes her husband until either one of them dies. Her guardian may marry her off at ten, hit her, abuse her or may be kind to her, it’s all up to luck. Her life like a watermelon, it might open up to be red and sweet or bitter and rotten.

These campaigners live like princesses and the restrictions that stifle average women daily, do not apply to them. Have they ever faced a PVPV  commission member who stole their very breath. If a PVPV commission member even set his eyes on them, he would shake from fear, because the only power that the PVPV recognize is the power of your guardian. These men know nothing of religion.

My guardian knows what’s best for me, seriously?!

They never wonder and they never question. Instead in a naiveness that is to be envied, naiveness reminiscent of Marie Antoinette, they are bothered by the demands of the women who have suffered. And so they send to the king, asking him that this system of injustice be maintained.

They say “Who said we need to be human?”
“We do not want rights that contradict our customs!”

“Stop their demands!”

“Cut their tongues!”

“Silence their voices!”

“Leave us as we are!”

“An object in a degree closer to the animal! (With all due respect to animals)”

And surprisingly, I am not surprised. Not surprised by the campaign.
And you know why?
Because the history of  movements demanding women’s rights throughout the world, was full of similar campaigns to this “My guardian knows what’s best for me”. For every woman who demanded her rights, stood more women who cursed her, in the name of tradition, in the name of customs, in the name of religion (whatever that religion may be), and shamed her for seeking change.
This campaign is not strange.
It is similar to another campaign carried out by women in Switzerland in the twenties and then again in the fifties and sixties against women’s right to vote. They too used religion, customs and traditions as an excuse to stop development.

Even in this, they are not unique.
People, as I said before are people,in their wisdom, and strength and in their weakness and simplicity.
Here or there. No difference.

But my guardian does not know what’s best for me.
I am worthy of making my own decisions.
And only I know what’s best for me, even as I bow my head in respect to my father.  

Those campaigners insist on staying minors.
That is their decision. But who said that they speak on behalf of Saudi women?

 

Click here for Eman al Nafjan’s Bio

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