“IN GOD WE TRUST” – A JOURNEY TO THE UNITED STATES:
I dedicate this story to the loving memory of Robert Bruce Young Jr., former Director, Greenpeace – Ann Arbor. I am predestined to work for him, for God wanted to prepare my mind to begin a spiritual journey depending upon hope and comfort in finding Divine Mercy, Grace, and Compassion as the basis for man’s existence at any given place, under any kind of circumstances.
Historically the phrase “In God We Trust” started appearing on coins minted in United States since the times of American Civil War. Legislation to provide “In God We Trust” as the national motto was approved on July 11, 1955. The Act of Congress in 1956 is codified as Federal Law in the U.S. Code at 36 U.S.C. 302 and it mandates appearance of “In God We Trust” phrase on all coins and paper currency of the United States of America.
MY JOURNEY TO SULTANATE OF OMAN :
During 1983, while serving in Indian Army, while I was stationed at Army Ordnance Corps Centre in Secunderabad, I made decision to relinquish my Permanent Regular Commission in Indian Army Medical Corps and to depart from India. I started making my preparations and had considered several countries as my destination. I had tried to seek employment in countries like Iran, Iraq, and Kuwait. The Ministry of Defence in Sultanate of Oman employs a large number of military personnel of Great Britain, Pakistan, India, Egypt, Jordan, and others. Indian Army Medical Corps Officers are also sent there on deputation . Prior to 1983, I applied for deployment in Oman but was not selected. It was not easy to get my application for resignation from Army Service approved as my request was opposed by Lieutenant General V V S Pratap Rao, Director General of Armed Forces Medical Services(DGAFMS). General VVS Pratap Rao made decision to send me on a posting to Mizoram in Northeast India. It was a hateful and vindictive decision made by him to hurt me. I was unwilling to obey an order which failed to acknowledge the interests of Service. I had no option and had to prepare myself to move in a different direction to oppose his decision to dispatch me to Mizo Hills. In Indian Army Service, such decisions such as transfer orders( or posting orders) to move Medical Officers are made by Director of Medical Services(Army). General Rao violated this Rule of Conduct. I contacted Shri. Pendekanti. Venkata Subbaiah, Union Minister of State for Home and Parliamentary Affairs (1980-84) to get help to change my posting order. The Minister directly spoke to General Rao. The Minister could do so because General Rao had contacted him seeking his help. General Rao was making his plans to work after retirement from Indian Army Service. He found the job of a radiologist at Ministry of Health, Sultanate of Oman. Shri. Pendekanti Venkata Subbaiah, the Home Minister, was required to give written consent to approve General Rao’s application seeking Government of India’s permission to travel to Sultanate of Oman. General Rao agreed to the Minister’s demand to change my posting order and got his application for permission to leave India approved. General Rao asked Lieutenant General Banerjee, Director of Medical Services(Army) to issue me a new posting order to serve at a different Unit but insisted that I should be dispatched to any Unit which is based in Mizoram. To oppose my transfer to Mizoram, I too chose Oman as my travel destination. I could make that choice as Providence cleared all obstacles to relinquish my Permanent Regular Commission which has contractual obligations. I left India immediately after my resignation from Service was approved on January 10, 1984. By the time I had signed my new job contract on January 14, 1984 at Ministry of Defence, Muscat, Oman, General Rao had already reached Muscat. A friend of mine wanted to meet with General Rao and I accompanied him on that trip. My friend got out of the car to meet General Rao as he stepped out of his residence in Muscat. I stayed back in the car. I had simply wanted that General Rao to find me in Oman and know that I did not move to Mizoram as expected by him.
A JOURNEY TO THE UNITED STATES :
While I was stationed at Khasab, near Strait of Hormuz, I had faced a problem about my daughter’s education. My daughter who was studying in Muscat English Speaking School reached 6th grade had no further opportunities for higher education in English. When we reached Oman from India, she had initially joined the School for Indian children in Muscat and we were not satisfied with the quality of education at that school and as a consequence she had joined Muscat English Speaking School. I had no desire to return to India and I was not able to send her to a Boarding School in England or Europe at that young age. Myself and my wife, who was working as Medical Officer(Doctor) at Al-Munther Clinic in Wadi Adai, Muscat, had job contracts to live in Oman but we were not immigrants. The only choice we could make was to leave Oman and find a new destination which would provide opportunities for my daughter’s uninterrupted higher education in English. My son was in first grade and his education did not pose any immediate problem or concern. We had considered Australia, England, and the United States. I had also checked about United Arab Emirates, Iran and Iraq to explore the opportunities of employment and long time residence to help my children’s education. As I was stationed at Khasab, I could travel to United Arab Emirates in my military Land Rover without the need for a visa or a travel document. I found there were no opportunities to immigrate to that country. I went to Iranian, and Iraqi Embassies in Muscat and was very warmly received by them. These Embassies had no powers to help me with immigration to their countries. In Oman, there were several British Expatriates. My Commanding Officer, Lieutenant Colonel WWG Hardy, a British citizen and others had owned houses in England and were willing to help me with my housing requirements if I were to decide to move to England. At that very critical moment as I was planning to choose a destination for my journey in life, it could be a mere coincidence and I read a story published in The Oman Daily Observer, the only English language news paper published by Oman. The story described the official motto of United States as “In God We Trust”. The story caught my immediate attention. Earlier at Khasab, I had written an essay describing the Role of Islam in Medical Care and had also written a paper exploring the connection between Spirituality and Health Care. The term ‘Health’ is defined as the physical, mental, and social well-being of an individual in his environment and community. I wanted to redefine the term ‘Health’ as the physical, mental, social, moral and spiritual well-being of an individual in his environment and community. The well-being of man depends upon Power/Force/Energy of Mercy, Compassion, and Grace which operates or regulates access to extraterrestrial source of Cosmic Energy.
MY INTERVIEW WITH IMMIGRATION OFFICER, EMBASSY OF UNITED STATES, MUSCAT, OMAN :
I went to the Embassy of United States in Muscat in my military uniform. The Force Medical Services of Sultanate of Oman’s Land Forces provides free medical services to all citizens of United States living in Oman. While I worked at the Force Base Hospital in Muscat, I used to often treat American teachers and American personnel employed by PAN AM Airlines Company based at the Seeb International Airport in Muscat. The Embassy officials had also immediately recognized that I was stationed at Khasab base near Strait of Hormuz from the badges of regimental affiliation worn on my military uniform. I had directly told the Embassy Staff that I needed help to immigrate to the United States. The Embassy provided plenty of information about places in United States and life in the United States. I had an interview with a young Immigration Officer serving at the Embassy. I told him that I am very impressed by the official motto of United States which proudly proclaims Trust in God. I had narrated to him my story and about my service in Indian Army and my journey to Oman to uplift myself and my family from a social environment that caused anxiety and stress. I had shown him my essay and my plans to protect Public Health by promoting Spiritual well-being of people. He was very impressed by my presentation. He had very cheerfully agreed to help me with my journey to the United States. I left my lucrative job contract with the Ministry of Defence, Sultanate of Oman for I had trusted in God and I had no concern for prematurely ending my adventurous military career at a very young age of 38 years. I had faced every kind of risk to my personal life while I had served in military uniform and yet I have no scars to display on my body. I had never experienced any fear about my personal well-being.
DOCTOR GOES BEYOND TRADITIONAL MEDICINE :
After I had arrived in Ann Arbor, Michigan, my daughter had joined Slauson Middle School. The School did an academic evaluation and admitted her to 8th Grade. She was allowed to skip 7th Grade altogether. It reflects upon the high quality of education given at Muscat English Speaking School. My son had joined Haisley Elementary School. I sent the same essay, which I had earlier presented at the United States Embassy in Muscat, to The Ann Arbor News. The Editor was also equally impressed with my ideas and had arranged for an interview to publish a story. The Ann Arbor News published a story titled ‘Doctor goes beyond Traditional Medicine’ in its Saturday’s edition dated January 17, 1987. Quoting from my essay, the Ann Arbor News story has said,”This type of faith is acquired step by step through love, meditation, and contemplation. One who attains this faith has a spiritual insight about life, able to appreciate the greatness and splendor of the creation all around us. This faith is a vital force for leading a healthy and spiritually rich life and works as a strong preventive weapon against illness. Disease Prevention is more than mere Health Education. It requires a philosophical approach based on spiritual values. Modern Medical Science alone cannot solve the problems facing humanity.” My son Ashwin who had joined Grade 1 Class at Haisley Elementary School, Ann Arbor had informed me that his Class Teacher had shared this News Story with my picture with her Class. We still live in Ann Arbor keeping our Trust in God who still protects us and keeps our spirits alive. God has ensured that I live in Peace, Harmony, and Tranquility while keeping me as a Prisoner who has no choice about the circumstances of his Time, and Place. To gain the subjective experience called human Freedom, I may have no choice other than finding a place in the World that would show respect, and concern for my desire for Individual Freedom. But, the question that I face is that of God’s Choice. If God has condemned me to live in the United States as a Prisoner who has no power of action and is confined by the circumstances of Time, and Place; how could this Leader of the Free World deliver me the experience called Freedom or Liberty???
R. Rudra Narasimham/Rudra N. Rebbapragada, B.Sc., M.B.B.S.,
Ann Arbor, Michigan, U.S.A.,