Today, an eager donor, Mr. Jewan Singh, wrote a check to the International Red Cross, Tsunami Disaster, at the Baldeo Community Center, located at 125-14 Liberty Avenue in the heart of Richmond Hill. He looked around and saw the massive show of sympathy and support for our suffering brothers and sisters recently affected by the terrible tsunami, symbolized by the many generous donations of food, supplies, shoes and clothing. He saw the landlord collecting the commensurate rental for such prime office space, and wondered whether a pharmacy would be a better business idea. Many recipients of free legal and medical services hardly stop to think just who pays for such a center to operate daily. "The government give al yuh grants?" is a common question. "No, there are no outside funding here, just Dr. Philip Baldeo and Albert Baldeo's efforts. God willing. They fulfilling their father's wish. They get de inspiration from their father there." Another volunteer pointed reverently to the photographic presence of our deceased father, Harry Baldeo, appropriately garlanded, and enjoying the photographic, but distinguished company, of Mr.Mohandas Gandhi, Rev. Martin Luther King and Dr. Cheddi Jagan.

Realization struck, and almost immediately, Jewan became another enthusiastic volunteer. The aura of the center's work touched him. He related easily to the higher calling. He then asked me, "What drives you, a successful lawyer, to mobilize such an effort to help others, when others could not be in the least bothered?" "My brother," I assured him, "the late great President John F. Kennedy, and many men far greater than we will ever be, instructed us not to ask what others can do for us, but what we can do for others. Their is no greater service than that done in the cause of humanity, and that is my oyster. Politics is the vehicle whereby I can defend, protect and further the rights of my fellow human beings. I hope others do likewise, but not in a divisive way, so that our brothers and sisters can be empowered. This is not about Albert Baldeo. It is about the people." He nodded, gave me that acknowledgment of deep understanding, inspiration and encouragement which drives me, and said, "You and you brother Dr. (Philip) Baldeo are on a mission." It is simple acts of humanity from brothers like Jewan that drive humanity to do more for itself, alleviating the hurt of the cynics in our midst. He then assisted an elderly couple who needed help to register to vote and listened as I explained to their son the benefits of becoming a citizen.

I can hear the thoughts of a miserable few of you skeptics, aloud. "Oh, Baldeo doing that to get elected!" And a few others also. "Baldeo gone get rich! Let we put up we own candidate, and get in on it too!" And still others. "But there must be some reason he running." There are reasons, my friends, but, as Bob Marley advised, "Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery, none but yourselves can free your minds!..."

The human need to be understood and accepted is felt by every new American. We are still trying to assimilate and match our economic balance with some semblance of political power. There are still the crabs and snakes amongst us, who feel threatened that their "de facto," back yard leadership will be compromised. Evil souls, barriers to progress. Self-anointed "mayors." Egos, galore. Yet, they line up with hefty donations for "fat politicians" who can serve them personally, not the community, nor the locals in their midst. One so called mayor even collected $40,000 US from others for a visiting head of state and took all of the credit for the fundraiser, so that he could stay at his Maracas Bay beach home and "drink free liquor and eat bhunjal duck whole day." His other lifelong achievement was to inveigle the Guyana government into an infamous law book contract, which he surreptitiously entered into with his alter ego and anonymous inner circle, executive officers of a notorious offshore corporation called New Global Consultants. His hidden, deceitful scheme to rob the Guyana people, and the cover up were discovered before he received his hugely inflated compensation. The government later secured another entity to perform the same contract for a very, very small fraction of his price, and hopelessly tried to dissociate itself from him. We are informed that there are many more such "secret contracts" which are still secretly flourishing to the detriment of the Guyanese people.

But the substance of this article does not allow a detour into an expose of the machinations of the few degenerate skeptics and spoilers amongst us, although their dictatorial tendencies make their conduct relevant. Not just yet, anyway. Certainly, such misguided souls should not sully our thoughts, not when we rise to pay homage, as the heart warms and the soul waxes, to the other half of that Duo of Great Souls, Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. Sorry, skeptics, the slime and sin of man's betrayal of his fellow man must take a back seat at this glorious moment.

Everyday, relatively new immigrant groups like ours experience the challenging, yet unique American process of assimilation. From "alien," (Oh, how I resent that categorization), an outsider, to a citizen, "one of us." How is our Diaspora community faring in this effort? Let us try to understand the importance of the historical nexus of our entry into America, and answer the rhetorical question Dr. King himself asked, "Where do we go from here?"

The Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s and the struggles of our African-American brethren changed restrictive immigration policies and opened doors for us. When we celebrate Dr Martin Luther King's Day, it reminds us of the universality of the message of love, peace, brotherhood and the principles of truth and justice. In a letter from Birmingham City Jail, April 1963, Dr King wrote, "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly."

It is trite that Dr King was strongly influenced by Gandhi's thoughts on nonviolence. Globalization of thought has existed from time immemorial. In March, 1936, Mahatma Gandhi wrote, "I have nothing new to teach the world. Truth and nonviolence are as old as the hills. All I have done is to try experiments in both on as vast a scale as I could."

New York is a microcosm of America. Its portals are graced by the entry of many different people, whose blood, sweat and tears, oftentimes unrequited, provide the foundations for growth. Its strength is its diversity, in excelsis. The gatekeeper was Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Yes, it was Dr. King who not only brought together the African-American community, but also welcomed people from around the world, from all races and walks of life, to follow his dream and work for equality and justice. The celebration of his life is a timely reminder of the ideals for which he stood. Not for a day, but for the rest of our lives, if we are to truly and collectively live the American dream!

To live the dreams and hopes of both Dr Martin Luther King and Mahatma Gandhi, our community must unite for a common cause, and unite and participate in meaningful political pursuits. Our community must see this day as an all-inclusive American holiday, the most pivotal in our history, one for all of us.

One of the pillars of Mahatma Gandhi's teachings was to attain freedom and build unity by integrating the principles of Truth and using peaceful methods to advocate self-reliance and self-sufficiency. The Baldeo Community Center has initiated the integration effort. It is open to the community for other uses, FREE of charge. All are welcome. Our efforts here will continue the process of assisting our fellow human beings, our brothers and sisters. We must demystify archaic traditions of caste, class and consciousness, and help our neighbors to see us as just another brother passing this way but once, and if we stop to help a brother or sister, it must be seen as just that-humanity.

But we are yet to realize our own collective potential. When we build bridges of understanding with our neighbors, we need to address our internal community issues. We must applaud and promote service to our brothers and sisters, not detract from them. Service costs money and time, which is a sacrifice. We need to develop our civic consciousness, overcome our petty prejudices and narrow mindedness, and make a difference in the fabric of the country we have adopted as our own.

The Civil Rights Movement of Rev. King changed the course of history in America. We must nurture inspiration today to understand what it means to be part of a much more diverse and challenging America, where our challenges will grow daily. Just as how communities across America are inspired, daily, by King and Gandhi's approach of inclusion, brotherhood, peace and nonviolence, we must likewise take counsel. My fervent hope is that we will understand the issues and get involved to strengthen and empower ourselves, our neighborhoods, our families and communities before it is too late.

Long live Rev. Martin Luther King! Long live Mahatma Gandhi!

Postscript: Dr King wrote five books, all compulsory reading: Stride Toward Freedom (1958), Strength to Love (1963), Why We Can't Wait (1964), Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos or Community? (1967), and The Trumpet of Conscience (1968).



  AlbertBaldeoForCityCouncil.Com 2005