METROFOCUS: MAY 17, 2019

The transit agency is facing serious scrutiny after dozens of employees raked in millions in overtime. We have the details. From breaking into acting to “Breaking Bad,” Emmy and Tony Award-winning actor Bryan Cranston is back to discuss his journey to the big screen. This year the Islamic holy month comes with traditional fasting and prayers. But, in the wake of rising Islamophobia, it also comes with newfound fears.

Aired on May 17, 2019.

TRANSCRIPT

> TONIGHT ON 'METROFOCUS.'

THE TRANSIT AGENCY IS FACING SERIOUS SCRUTINY AFTER DOZENS OF EMPLOYEES RAKED IN MILLIONS FOR EXTRA HOURS ON THE CLOCK.

THE LATEST.

> FROM BREAKING INTO ACTING TO BREAKING BAD.

BRIAN CRANSTON IS BACK.

IF YOU WANT SOMEBODY TO SAY TO YOU, HERE WHAT IS HAPPENING IN THE WORLD.

LET US DISTILL IT AND PRESENT IT TO YOU.

YOU DECIDE.

KNOW WHERE YOU GO?

RIGHT HERE.

FOR ME.

YEAH.

THIS IS WHERE YOU GO.

AND IT'S RAMADAN.

IT COMES WITH TRADITIONAL PHASING AND PRAYERS.

IN THE WAKE OF RISING ISLAM PHOBIA THERE'S NEWFOUND FEARS.

THOSE STORIES AND MORE AS 'METROFOCUS' STARTS NOW.

> THIS IS 'METROFOCUS' JACK FORD AND JENNA FLANAGAN.

IT'S BROUGHT TO YOU BY THE SYLVIA A AND SIMON B.POITA FOUNDATION.

BERNARD AND IRENE SCHWARTZ.

ROSSLYNN P. WALTER.

AND BY --

> GOOD EVENING AND WELCOME TO 'METROFOCUS.'

WHEN IT COMES TO OVERTIME AT THE MTA, AND PARTICULARLY AT THE LONG ISLAND RAILROAD, THE NUMBERS ARE SHOCKING.

FOR EXAMPLE, ONE LIIR EMPLOYEE REPORTEDLY EARNED $344,000 IN OVERTIME PAY LAST YEAR.

THAT'S NEARLY 4,000 HOURS OF EXTRA WORK.

HE'S NOT ALONE.

THIS IS PART OF A TREND AT THE MTA, WHERE DOZENS OF EMPLOYEES HAVE PULLED IN MILLIONS IN OT.

GOVERNOR CUOMO IS NOT HAPPY SAYING THIS IS NOT ABOUT OVERTIME BUT RATHER ABOUT STEALING AND FRAUD.

WHAT'S GOING ON HERE?

WHO IS TO BLAME?

WHAT CAN BE DONE ABOUT IT?

JOINING US WITH ANSWERS IS THE TRANSIT REPORTER GREG MACKER.

I WONDER IF YOU CAN ELABORATE AND GIVE US A BETTER SENSE OF THE KIND OF OVERTIME WE'RE TALKING ABOUT.

YEAH.

WE UNDERSTAND LONG DAYS HERE IN NEW YORK AND PUTTING IN YOUR TIME AND GETTING COMPENSATED FOR IT.

BUT SOME OF THOSE SCHEDULES WOULD BE HUMANLY IMPOSSIBLE TO WORK THAT MANY HOURS OVER A CERTAIN TIME.

YEAH.

THE PERSON I POINTED OUT TO IN THE INTRODUCTION.

ACCORDING TO PEOPLE WHO DONE THE MATH HE WOULD HAVE TO WORK 22.5 EVERY WORKDAY.

EXACTLY.

PART MIGHT BE BECAUSE OF THE WAY THINGS ARE SET UP YOU GET CREDIT OR DOUBLE TIME.

YEAH.

THEY NEED TO HAVE HAD THIS CONVERSATION ALREADY.

THEY HAD AN EMERGENCY MEETING LAST WEEK WITH THE BOARD TO ADDRESS SOME OF THESE THINGS THE SPECIFIC CASES AND THEN THE BIG PICTURE OF HOW THEY KIND OF MONITOR OVERTIME AGENCY BY AGENCY.

SO THAT'S MY QUESTION, I MEAN, THE MTA BOSSES WERE SHOCKED.

SHOCKED WHEN IT BECAME PUBLIC.

LIKE YOU SAID, THEY HAD AN EMERGENCY MEETING ABOUT IT AND HIRED OUTSIDE CONSULT ASSISTANTS TO LOOK INTO IT.

BUT THESE ARE THE SAME PEOPLE WHO PAID THE OVERTIME.

YEAH.

AND THERE'S A PROCESS IN THERE.

AND EACH AGENCY PRESIDENT WENT THROUGH THAT.

THEY HAVE AN ELECTRONIC SYSTEM OF SWIPING IN AND OUT.

THEY'RE MOVING TO UPGRADE THAT.

THAT OVERTIME DOES HAVE TO BE APPROVED.

THEY POINTED OUT THIS IS A HANDFUL OF WORKERS.

EVEN JUST IN TRANSIT.

THERE ARE 50,000 WORKERS.

THE LIRR HAS TENS OF THOUSANDS OF WORKERS.

TO SEE THE TOP EARNERS ARE GETTING THAT MUCH, IT HAS BEEN RAISING RED FLAGS.

IT SHOULD HAVE.

IT COMES DOWN TO MAKING EVERY DOLLAR COUNT.

YEAH.

DO THE BOSSES NOT KNOW OR NOW IT'S PUBLIC THEY HAVE TO REACT?

I THINK IT'S A LITTLE BIT THAT HAVE.

WE'RE IN THE MIDDLE OF THE CONTRACT NEGOTIATION SEASON AGAIN.

THE LIRR RAILROAD CONTRACTS ARE UP, TRANSIT IS UP.

THIS CERTAINLY PUTS IT OUT IN THE PUBLIC EYE NOW.

THIS KIND OF UNDERSTANDING THE BU BUREAUCRACY.

MANAGEMENT TOOK PART OF THE RESPONSIBILITY.

YOU DON'T WANT TO BLAME THE WORK FERS THEY'RE FOLLOWING WHAT THE PROCEDURE IS.

ALSO, IF THEY'RE NOT, WHO IS FINDING THAT OUT?

AND NO ONE COULD SAY AT THE MEETING.

YOU KNOW, DID THAT GUY THAT MADE OVERTIME --

RIGHT.

WAS WITHIN THE BOUNDS.

IF IT WAS, THEN THE SYSTEM IS WHAT WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT AND NOT TO CRITICIZE THE WORKER.

RIGHT.

AND LET ME GET TO THAT IN A SECOND.

GOVERNOR CUOMO SAID IT'S ABOUT THEFT AND FRAUD.

IS HE RIGHT?

THEY DON'T KNOW.

AND THE UNION REPS ON THE BOARD WERE ANGRY THAT ALMOST THERE WAS AN INDICTMENT OF THE WORKERS.

AND THEY TALKED ABOUT POSSIBLE FRAUD OR THINGS.

AGAIN BECAUSE IT MIGHT BE OPERATING WITHIN WHAT THESE WORK RULES ARE.

THERE COULD BE SOME BAD APPLES.

THEY ALL SAID THAT, TOO.

THEY NEED TO FIGURE THAT OUT.

YEAH.

THERE'S A LOT OF PEOPLE.

POLICY ANALYSTS SAYING WHAT YOU SAID.

OKAY, THERE'S LIKELY SOME FRAUD INVOLVED HERE.

BUT THE REAL FUNDAMENTAL PROBLEM IS THE STRUCTURE OF THE CONTRACTS.

BECAUSE THEY INCLUDE A LOT OF WORK RULES THAT KIND OF DEMAND, KIND OF MAKE NECESSARY THE EXTENSIVE AND EXPENSIVE OVERTIME.

TALK ABOUT THAT.

AUTOMATIC DOUBLE TIME FOR SOME THINGS, EVEN WORKING ON THE WEEKENDS IS HARD TO SCHEDULE AND OVERNIGHT.

IF YOU KNOW, THE SYSTEM THAT'S WHEN THEY'RE DOING A LOT OF THIS WORK.

BOTH ON THE RAILROADS AND WITHIN TRANSIT.

BECAUSE THAT'S ALMOST AN AUTOMATIC MULTIPLIER OF THINGS.

AND WE WANT TO REWARD PEOPLE FOR DOING THEIR JOB AND FOR WORKING OUTSIDE OF WHAT THE REGULAR TIME IS.

BUT THIS HIGHLIGHTS KIND OF THE STRUCTURE AND THE WAY THINGS HAVE BEEN.

WE HEARD FROM ELECTED LEADERS THAT DOING THINGS THE WAY WE HAVE IS NOT THE WAY TO CONTINUE.

YEAH.

LET'S SEGUE.

WE HAVE ABOUT A MINUTE LEFT.

A STORY THAT MET THE HEADLINES INTERNATIONALLY AND INTERNATIONALLY.

THE ONE THAT WAS IGNITED BY A VIDEO OF A GUY -- A VIDEO OF A WORKER AS HE WAS HEADING FOR WORK OF A SUBWAY CAR.

IT WAS A TWO GOING DOWNTOWN EARLY IN THE MORNING.

I MEAN, AS WE SEE.

IT'S TERRIBLE.

YEAH.

AND THE QUESTION IS, IS THAT THE NEW NORMAL?

WE HAVEN'T SEEN MORE OF THEM BECAUSE PEOPLE ARE ON THE LOOK OUT FOR THEM AND THEY'RE FED UP WITH THEM AND WE POSTED ON SOCIAL MEDIA AND TAKEN INTO THE OFFICIALS.

AND AT ANY GIVEN TIME, THERE'S A COUPLE THOUSAND, 3,000 CARS ON THE SYSTEM.

FOR SOMEBODY TO BE ABLE TO GET INTO ONE AND THEN HAVE IT RIDE UP-AND-DOWN AND THEN MAYBE EVEN CONTINUE TO BE IN OPERATION IS NOT AN ACCEPTABLE THING.

THOSE CARS ARE SUPPOSED TO BE WALKED THROUGH AT LEAST AT THE END OF EVERY TERMINAL WHEN IT GETS TO THE END OF ONE LINE THEN THE OTHER.

HOW IS THE NTA RESPONDING?

THEY'RE SAYING NYPD AND HOMELESS SERVICES AND SOME OF THE OUTREACH ADMINISTRATORS NEED TO WORK MORE WITH THEM TO ADDRESS WHAT IS THE HOMELESS PROBLEM.

CLEANING UP A CAR IS ONE THING.

BUT IF THERE IS A -- IF THE SYSTEM IS BEING USED, AND IT IS, PEOPLE ARE STAYING THERE OR CAMPING THERE OR THEY'RE LIVING THERE ALMOST AND THAT'S INDICATIVE OF A BIGGER PROBLEM.

THEY'RE SAYING THEY'RE STEPPING UP ENFORCEMENT.

THE MAYOR ACKNOWLEDGED THAT.

THAT NEEDS TO BE DONE.

WE SEE THIS AND IT'S A REMINDER OF WHERE WE ARE.

RIGHT.

ALL RIGHT.

THANK YOU SO MUCH, GREG.

> EMMY AND TONY AWARD WINNER BRIAN CRANSTON IS UP FOR ANOTHER AWARD FOR HIS PORTRAYAL OF HOWARD BIEL.

BEFORE HIS SUCCESS ON BROADWAY, AND IN THE HUGELY POPULAR TELEVISION SHOW 'BREAKING BAD' HE ALMOST CHOSE A DIFFERENT CAREER.

SOMETHING THAT MIGHT SURPRISE YOU.

I RECENTLY HAD A CHANCE TO CHAT WITH HIM ABOUT HOW HE DECIDED TO BECOME AN ACTOR AND WHETHER THERE WILL BE A BREAKING BAD MOVIE.

I WAS THINKING THIS IS DIFFERENT.

I SAW INITIALLY YOU WERE IN COLLEGE AND YOU WERE TAKING POLICE SCIENCE COURSES.

YEAH.

MAYBE THIS IS MY DIRECTION.

RIGHT.

TALK ABOUT WHAT GOT YOU THERE AND WHAT ALL OF A SUDDEN GOT YOU TO SAY, YOU KNOW, I DISCOVERED SOMETHING.

ACTING

WELL, AS WE WERE TALKING BEFORE THE SHOW ABOUT THE TREMENDOUS SIMILARITIES WITH OUR BACKGROUND GROWING UP WITHOUT A FATHER FOR A SIGNIFICANT PART OF OUR LIVES.

WHEN I -- BEFORE I WAS A TEEN, MY FATHER WAS GONE FROM THE FAMILY.

MY BROTHER JOINED THE LAPD GROUP.

I WAS A POOR KID IN THE SUBURB OF LOS ANGELES.

THEY WENT TO HAWAII.

THE GROUP OF KIDS WENT TO HAWAII.

I'M LIKE MY GOSH!

HE HAD THE NERVE OF SENDING ME A POSTCARD OF A GIRL IN A BIKINI ON THE BEACH.

THE SECOND YEAR HE WENT TO JAPAN WITH THE GROUP.

I MEAN, THEY'RE TRAVELING!

THAT WAS IT.

WHEN I'M 16, OF AGE, I'M JOINING THIS GROUP.

I GRADUATED TOP OF MY CLASS.

OUT OF 111 16-YEAR-OLDS I HAD NO IDEA I HAD ANY APTITUDE FOR POLICE WORK.

I WENT TO EUROPE.

IT WAS GREAT.

IT WAS ME SEARCHING FOR A FATHER FIGURE.

YEAH.

AND A MASCULINE SENSIBILITY.

A POLICEMAN AND I RESPECT THEM AND THE INSTITUTION OF LAW, AND I THOUGHT THIS IS WHAT I'M GOING TO DO.

AND THEN IN COLLEGE, I TOOK AN ACTING CLASS BECAUSE I PLAYED A AROUND IN ACTING WHEN I WAS YOUNGER.

A YOUNG COUPLE IS KISSING ON A PARK BENCH.

IT WAS LIKE MY GOSH.

AND I'M KISSING THIS REALLY PRETTY GIRL.

I CAN DO THAT.

THAT WAS MY -- THAT'S WHAT I WAS TASKED TO DO.

AH.

IT WAS THAT MOMENT I WENT MAYBE I DON'T WANT TO BE A POLICEMAN.

MAYBE I CAN PLAY A POLICEMAN!

GET TO KISS A PRETTY GIRL.

RIGHT.

THAT WAS YOUR TRANSITION.

YES.

YES.

A VERY NOBLE CAUSE OF GIRLS IS WHY.

BUT, YOU KNOW, IT GOT YOU TO THE RIGHT PLACE.

I THINK SO.

YEAH.

I THINK SO.

YEAH.

I FELL IN LOVE WITH IT.

AND NOT JUST BASED ON SUCCESS.

PEOPLE CAN BE SUCCESSFUL AND NOT LOVE WHAT THEY DO.

BUT HEARING YOU TALK, IT SEEMS LIKE YOU GOT TO BE THE EXTRAORDINARY SUCCESS OF DOING SOMETHING YOU LOVE TO DO.

BOY, IT'S A MARVELOUS COMMENTARY ON A LIFE.

IT WAS SOMETHING A CREDO I CAPE UP WITH WHEN I WAS 22 YEARS OLD.

AND I FINISHED READING THE BOOK.

I WAS ON THE ROAD ON MY MOTORCYCLE NOT KNOWING -- I WAS BASICALLY RUNNING AWAY BECAUSE I DIDN'T KNOW WHAT I WANTED TO DO OR SHOULD DO.

BUT I NEEDED THAT BUFFER TIME JUST TO GROW UP.

JUST TO FIGURE OUT THAT IT'S OKAY TO BE LOST BECAUSE YOU HAVE AN OPPORTUNITY TO BE FOUND, IF YOU'RE LOST.

AND FIND THE RIGHT PATH AS OPPOSED TO A PATH.

AND I CAME UP WITH THIS CREDO THAT I WAS GOING TO ATTEMPT TO DO SOMETHING THAT I LOVED.

HOPEFULLY BECOME GOOD AT IT.

AS OPPOSED TO DOING SOMETHING I WAS GOOD AT BUT DIDN'T LOVE.

AND I SIGNED OFF ON THAT AND SO NO MATTER WHAT WAS GOING TO HAPPEN, IN MY ACTING CAREER, WHETHER IT MEANT AT THIS AGE I WAS STILL HAD THREE ROOMMATES AND WE WERE TRYING TO SHARE SPAGHETTI DINNERS TOGETHER TO SAVE MONEY.

IT DIDN'T MATTER.

I WAS ALL IN.

THIS IS WHAT I'M DOING.

AND I THINK BECAUSE OF THAT, BECAUSE OF LOOKING AT THE LONG ROAD OF IT, THE MARATHON IT IS, I HAD NO DESIGNS ON I HAVE TO REACH SOMETHING BY A CERTAIN AGE.

YOU HAVEN'T SAID IF I'M NOT A STAR BY --

I NEVER SAID ANYTHING ABOUT BEING A STAR.

EVER.

I DIDN'T WANT -- MY GOAL WAS TO BE ABLE TO HONESTLY SAY THAT I MAKE A LIVING AS AN ACTOR.

NOW WHERE THAT LIVING WAS, I WASN'T GOING TO SAY.

RIGHT.

I WANT TO BE ABLE TO SAY I EARN MY LIVING AS AN ACTOR.

I'VE SEEN YOU TALK ABOUT THIS.

ALL OF A SUDDEN 22 YOU SAID THIS IS WHAT I WANT TO DO.

YOU HIT ABOUT 25 AND FROM THAT POINT ON, YOU WERE ABLE TO DO THAT.

YEAH.

YOU EARNED YOUR LIVING AS AN ACTOR.

YEAH.

AND THEN IT GOT MUCH MORE THAN JUST EARNING A LIVING.

YOU GOT 'MALCOLM IN THE MIDDLE.'

IT WAS A MARVELOUS FAMILY COMEDY.

IT WAS A COMING OF AGE FOR NOT JUST THE CHILDREN BUT THE ADULTS.

YEAH.

AND COMES 'BREAKING BAD.'

RIGHT.

'BREAKING BAD' HAS BEEN IN THE MINDS OF MANY OF THE REALLY RESPECTED CRITICS IN THAT INDUSTRY DESIGNATED AS ONE OF THE BEST TV SERIES EVER.

SOME HAVE SAID PERHAPS THE BEST EVER.

WHEN YOU FIRST LOOKED AT THE SELF-INCR SCRIPT OR SYNOPSIS OF WHATEVER YOU SAW FIRST, DID YOU HAVE ANY SENSE FROM THE BEGINNING HOW SUCCESSFUL IT WOULD BE?

NO ONE DOES.

NO ONE CAN.

THE ONLY THING THAT ANY ACTOR CAN DO IS TO CORRECTLY EVALUATE THE MATERIAL.

THE LEVEL OF THE MATERIAL.

I DON'T KNOW WHY I KNEW THIS EARLY ON -- THE WRITTEN WORD.

THE STORY ITSELF IS THE MOST IMPORTANT ELEMENT IN PERFORMANCE ART BAR NONE.

NO EXCEPTIONS.

I KNOW IT.

ABSOLUTE.

THERE'S NO ARGUMENT TO THAT.

THERE'S NO WAY YOU CAN ARGUE THAT.

IT IS THE POWER OF THE STORY THAT WILL PROPEL AN ACTOR TO WHATEVER HEIGHT THEY MAY BE ABLE TO GET TO.

THEY MIGHT HAVE TALENTED BUT IF THEY DON'T HAVE THE STORY.

RIGHT.

MERYL STREEP.

IF MERYL STREEP WAS GIVEN C-LEVEL MATERIAL AND SHE WORKS AT HER ABSOLUTE BEST, B.

THERE'S NO WAY IT CAN GO HIGHER.

MERYL STREEP!

YOU KNOW, IT'S LIKE THAT'S IT.

SO WHEN YOU SEE A-LEVEL MATERIAL, WHICH WHEN I READ THE PILOT SCRIPT FOR 'BREAKING BAD,' MY EYES -- I WENT OH!

RIGHT AWAY YOU SAW IT?

YES.

THIS COULD BE SPECIAL.

I WANT TO BE A PART OF IT.

IT DOESN'T MEAN ANYTHING AS FAR AS IS IT GOING TO BE SUCCESSFUL IN THE EYES OF RATINGS OR MAKING MONEY OR ALL THE THINGS THAT ARE OUT OF OUR CONTROL.

THE ONLY THING I CAN BE INVESTED IN IS THAT CHARACTER AND TELLING THAT STORY THE BEST I CAN.

AND THEN IT'S LUCK.

LAST QUICK QUESTION ABOUT 'BREAKING BAD.'

IS THERE A MOVIE COMING OUT?

NO.

BUT MY THOUGHT WAS, I WONDER IF THERE'S A LOT OF BREAKING BAD FANS OUT THERE SAYING WE DON'T WANT ANYMORE.

IT WAS PERFECT.

YEAH.

YOU KNOW IT WAS FIVE SEASONS OF PERFECTION THAT GOT BETTER EACH YEAR.

RIGHT.

SO I WOULDN'T BE SURPRISED IF A LOT OF FANS ARE SAYING THAT.

BUT, YOU KNOW, I CAN GO BACK AND WATCH IT IF I WANT ANOTHER BREAKING BAD.

IT'S FUNNY WHEN YOU SAY THAT.

PEOPLE ASK ME.

IT WASN'T PROVEN THAT WALTER WHITE DIED.

HE WAS SHOT BUT -- THEY DIDN'T SAY HE WAS DEAD.

MAYBE HE'S STILL ALIVE AND THE REBOOTS YOU SEE OF THE OLD SERIES THAT ARE COMING BACK, WOULDN'T YOU LIKE TO DO A REBOOT OF 'BREAKING BAD' I FEEL THE SAME WAY YOU DO.

NO.

I WOULDN'T.

BECAUSE I WAS FORTUNE, GREAT GOOD FORTUNE OF BEING GIVEN A BEAUTIFUL BEGINNING, MIDDLE, AND END.

IT'S ALMOST LIKE THE PERFECT MEAL.

YOU SIT DOWN AND HAVE A WONDERFUL MEAL.

PERFECT.

JUST PERFECT.

AND IF SOMEONE BROUGHT YOU MORE FOOD, OH, HUH, IT KIND OF RUINS THE MEAL YOU HAD.

IT'S LIKE I DON'T NEED ANYMORE.

NOW I'M STUFFED.

EXACTLY.

NOW I DON'T FEEL AS GOOD.

IT'S BEEN A DELIGHT TO SPEND SOME TIME WITH YOU.

I'VE BEEN A BIG FAN FOR A LONG PERIOD OF TIME.

I WOULD LOOK FORWARD TO WHATEVER THE NEXT PROJECTS WILL BE.

THANK YOU.

IT'S BEEN A PLEASURE.

THANK YOU SO MUCH.

THANK YOU VERY MUCH.

♪ FOR 30 DAYS, MUSLIMS AROUND THE WORLD WILL GIVE UP PLEASURES AND FOCUS ON PRAYER AND READ THE KORAN IN CELEBRATION OF THE HOLY HOLIDAY OF RAMADAN.

GATHERING IN MAOSQUES.

WHAT PRECAUTIONS MIGHT THE COMMUNITY BE TAKING THIS HOLIDAY?

WHAT CAN WE DO TO SUPPORT THEM?

HERE TO TALK WITH US ABOUT THE HOLY MONTH IS ASSOCIATE CHAPLAIN AT NEW YORK UNIVERSITY OF GLOBAL CENTER OF SPIRITUAL.

IT'S A DELIGHT TO HAVE YOU HERE WITH US.

THANK YOU SO MUCH.

I'M GOING TO ASK YOU TO ASSUME YOUR ROLE OF PROFESSOR HERE.

AND TO TEACH SOME OF US THE SIGNIFICANCE AND MEANING OF THESE EVENTS.

LET'S START WITH RAMADAN.

IT'S A NIGHT ON THE ISLAMIC CALENDAR.

IT'S A MONTH OF REAL OBSERVANCE OF THE ISLAMIC TRADITION BY MEANS OF ABSTAINING FROM FOOD AND DRINK, BY MEANS OF DEVOTION AND SUBMISSION TO GOD, BY NUMEROUS PRAYERS, READING OF THE QURAN.

LIFE IS FILLED WITH SO MANY FRACTIONS AND UPS AND DOWNS.

DURING THE COURSE OF THE 30 DAYS, WE STRIVE TOWARD ALLOWING FOR OUR HEARTS TOWARD CONNECTING TOWARD THINGS WHICH ARE FAR MORE VALUABLE THAN FOOD AND DRINK.

THAT, OF COURSE, IS CONNECTING WITH OUR MORALITY AND FOCUSSING ON THEMES LIKE MERCY AND PATIENCE AND COMPASSION AND GENEROSITY.

ONCE IN AWHILE, WE NEED CERTAIN THINGS TO RECENTER US IN LIFE BECAUSE OF HOW BUSY THINGS GET.

SO THE MONTH OF RAMADAN IS AN OPPORTUNITY TO DO JUST THAT.

FASTING, AS YOU MENTIONED, IS A SIGNIFICANT PART OF THAT PERIOD OF REFLECTION AND PRAYER.

WHAT IS THE ROLE THAT FASTING PLAYS?

YEAH.

USUALLY WHEN -- USUALLY THE FIRST THOUGHT THAT COMES TO PEOPLE'S MINDS WHEN THEY HEAR RAMADAN IS FASTING.

RIGHT NOW THE MONTH OF RAMADAN IS GETTING CLOSE TOWARD THE SUMMER PERIOD.

WE'RE FASTING IN UPWARDS OF 17 HOURS ABSTAINING FROM FOOD AND DRINK.

MANY PEOPLE WONDER, LIKE, WHY?

DOES THAT MEAN FASTING FROM WATER?

YEAH, IT DOES MEAN THAT.

IT DOES MEAN THAT.

GIVE ME THE PARAMETERS.

THE TIME.

YEAH, SO THE TIME OF FASTING IS A LITTLE BIT PRIOR TO DAWN UNTIL SOON AFTER SUNSET.

SO WE'RE TALKING ABOUT APPROXIMATELY FROM 4:00 A.M. TO A LITTLE BIT AFTER 8:00 P.M.

AND IT'S INCREDIBLY CHALLENGING AND INCREDIBLY DIFFICULT, BUT, AGAIN, WHAT IT ALLOWS US DO AND THAT'S THE CRUX OF THE FAST IS FOR US TO MARGINALIZE AND ISOLATE SO MANY DISTRACTIONS IN LIFE.

IF YOU THINK ABOUT HOW OUR DAYS GO, THE FIRST THING WE THINK ABOUT IN THE MORNING IS WHERE AM I GOING TO GET THE FIRST CUP OF COFFEE.

SIMILARLY WHAT AM I HAVING FOR LUNCH.

WHERE AM I GOING FOR DINNER?

AND YOU'RE WALKING DOWN THE STREET AND THERE'S A MILLION COFFEE SHOPS IN NEW YORK CITY AND YOUR MIND IS DIRECTED FOR YOU TO JUST WALK IN, GRAB A CUP, WALK OUT.

BUT OVER HERE YOU KNOW YOU HAVE TO ABSTAIN FROM ALL OF THAT.

AND THAT REALLY CHANNELS THE ONE WHO IS OBSERVING THE FAST TO ALLOW FOR THEMSELVES TO FOCUS ON THAT, WHICH IS HOPEFULLY A LITTLE BIT MORE IMPORTANT.

YEAH.

STRIPPING AWAY THE DISTRACTIONS.

STRIPPING AWAY THE DISTRACTIONS ALLOW YOU TO BECOME CENTERED.

EXACTLY.

BECOME PART OF YOUR BELIEVES AND CONTEMPLATE YOUR BELIEVES.

YEAH.

SO MUCH IS REFLECTION, CONTEMPLATION, MEDITATION.

IT ALLOWS FOR A MINDFULNESS.

YOU BECOME COGNIZANT WHY IT IS YOU'RE DOING WHAT IT IS YOU'RE DOING.

IF I WAS HUNGRY BECAUSE I MISSED MY LUNCH BREAK, I'LL BE IN A BAD MOOD.

RIGHT.

I'M GOING TO BE UPSET AND MY HEAD WILL HURT.

BECAUSE I KNOW I'M DOING IT FOR GOD'S SAKE, I'M DOING IT TO OBSERVE MY TRADITION.

I'M DOING IT TO RECENTER MYSELF, THOSE DISTRACTIONS DON'T POP INTO MY HEAD.

WE THINK ABOUT THAT WHICH IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN FOOD AND DRINK.

HOW YOU DESCRIBED IT HERE IS SOME PEOPLE MIGHT MISINTERPRET TO THINK IT'S A SELF-PUNISHMENT.

YOU'RE DEPRIVING YOURSELF OF THESE THINGS.

AS YOU SAID, IT'S DIFFERENT.

NO, IT'S ABSOLUTELY NOT.

DEFINITELY NOT DEPRIVING US.

AND NOT A SENSE OF SELF-PUNISHMENT.

IT OFFERS AN OPPORTUNITY TO REFOCUS, I WOULD SAY, PROBABLY US LIVING IN THE SOCIETY OF, LIKE, OVER CONSUMPTION IS PUNISHING US AND THIS SORT OF ALLOWS US TO HIT THE RESET BUTTON AND SORT OF, YOU KNOW, RETHINK ABOUT HOW WE ENGAGE LIFE.

AND TALK ABOUT BREAKING THE FAST.

IT'S NOT JUST OF A MATTER I CAN GRAB SOMETHING TO EAT.

THERE'S MORE OF THE PART OF THE RELIGIOUS CELEBRATION TO THE BREAKING OF THE FAST.

YEAH.

MANY PEOPLE THINK THAT THE MONTH OF RAMADAN IS A DEPRESSING TIME FOR MUSLIMS WHERE WE STARE AT A WALL ALL DAY.

I USED TO HEAR THESE THINGS GROWING UP.

AND IT SEEMS LIKE A LOT OF IGNORANCE BUT THE MONTH OF RAMADAN IS FESTIVE.

AND THE BREAKING OF THE FAST IS A MICROCAUSAM OF THAT FESTIVITY.

OFTENTIMES YOU DON'T BREAK YOUR FAST ON YOUR OWN YOU GO TO A LOCAL ISLAMIC CENTER AND DO IT WITH YOUR FAMILY AND COMMUNITY AB FRIENDS YOU HAVEN'T SEEN FOR A LONG TIME.

AND PEOPLE GATHER TOGETHER AND THEY EAT, THEY DRINK, THEY, LIKE, SHARE CERTAIN EXPERIENCES.

IT BECOMES A -- THERE'S A COMMUNAL ATMOSPHERE TO THE BREAKING OF THE FAST EVERY EVENING.

IT'S A WONDERFUL TIME.

AND IT'S IMPORTANT, I THINK, FOR PEOPLE WHO ARE NOT FAMILIAR WITH THE FAITH TO REALIZE IT'S A PERIOD OF CELEBRATION.

ABSOLUTELY.

WHICH LEADS ME TO THE DIFFICULT QUESTION WHICH IS ON THE HEELS OF THE TERRIBLE EVENTS IN NEW ZEALAND, WHAT SORT OF IMPACTS DO YOU THINK THOSE -- THOSE EVENTS ARE GOING TO HAVE OR WOULD HAVE ON THE PERIOD OF TIME OF RAMADAN?

YEAH, I MEAN, THE LAST TWO AND A HALF YEARS HAVE BEEN INCREDIBLY TRYING FOR THE MUSLIM COMMUNITY IN THE UNITED STATES AND ACROSS THE WORLD DUE TO THE ATTACKS AND POLITICAL RHETORIC AND SEMANTICS.

NOT ONLY FOR THE MUSLIM COMMUNITY BUT THE RELIGIOUS COMMUNITIES, YOU KNOW, ACROSS THIS COUNTRY.

AND, YOU KNOW, THE WAKE OF THE ATTACKS THAT TOOK PLACE IN NEW ZEALAND IN MARCH, THAT KILLED, YOU KNOW, MORE THAN 50 PEOPLE, MANY RELIGIOUS BASES ARE ACTUALLY SEEING AN INCREASE IN THE NUMBER OF PEOPLE WHO ARE ATTENDING.

AND I THINK THAT SHOWS -- DEMONSTRATES THE NOTION OF RESILIENCE THAT AS MUCH AS, YOU KNOW, WHITE SUPREMACY WANTED TO ISOLATE MUSLIMS FROM EMBRACING THEIR FAITH AND EMBRACING THEIR IDEOLOGY, THEY'RE FINDING PEOPLE ARE COMING OUT IN SIGNIFICANT NUMBERS THESE DAYS AND I'M SURE AS THE MONTH OF RAMADAN CONTINUES OVER THE NEXT COUPLE OF WEEKS, WE'LL SEE THE NUMBERS SIGNIFICANTLY BE ON THE UPTICK AND A LOT OF PEOPLE ARE SORT OF REALLY RALLYING AROUND THE NOTION OF EMBRACEMENT OF ONE'S IDENTITY IRREGARDLESS OF SORT OF THE RHETORIC AND THE POTENTIAL FOR VIOLENCE.

THAT'S NOT TO SAY THAT NOT MANY ISLAMIC CENTERS AND MOSQUES ARE NOT TAKING THE NECESSARY PREREQUISITES AND MEASURES.

THERE ARE MANY COMMUNITIES THAT ARE, YOU KNOW, HIRING CERTAIN SECURITY TASK FORCES TO REALLY PATROL THE CENTER.

OTHERWISE MEMBERS OF THE LOCAL COMMUNITY ARE STANDING OUTSIDE AND SORT OF CHECKING IN ON FOLKS.

BEING VIGILANT.

BEING VIGILANT.

YEAH.

WE ALL KNOW THAT THE CORNER STONE OF TOLERANCE IS UNDERSTANDING.

ABSOLUTELY.

AND CERTAINLY YOU HELP US TO UNDERSTAND THE MONTH AND THE CELEBRATION AND THE SIGNIFICANCE.

YOU'VE DONE A MARVELOUS JOB IN YOUR ROLE OF A TEACHER.

WE APPRECIATE YOU SPENDING TIME WITH US.

ABSOLUTELY.

'METROFOCUS' IS MADE POSSIBLE BY -- JAMES AND MERYL TISCH, THE SYLVIA A AND SIMON B. POITA FOUNDATION.

ROSLYN P. WALTER, BARBARA HOPE ZUCKERBERG, AND BY --

> CORPORATE FUNDING FOR 'METROFOCUS' WAS PROVIDED BY MUTUAL OF AMERICA, YOUR RETIREMENT COMPANY.

AND BY PSE&G.

SERVING CUSTOMERS, STRENGTHENING THE BUSINESS COMMUNITY AND INVESTING IN THE FUTURE.

Funders

MetroFocus is made possible by James and Merryl Tisch, Sue and Edgar Wachenheim III, the Sylvia A. and Simon B. Poyta Programming Endowment to Fight Anti-Semitism, Bernard and Irene Schwartz, Rosalind P. Walter, Barbara Hope Zuckerberg, Jody and John Arnhold, the Cheryl and Philip Milstein Family, Janet Prindle Seidler, Judy and Josh Weston and the Dr. Robert C. and Tina Sohn Foundation.

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