Category Archives: politics

Being a Mindful Child: 24 Hours in DC with DC

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24 Hours in Washington D.C. with my father, Deepak Chopra

In my book, Living With Intent, Take Action is an important step in my path to INTENT. The insight for this step came to me when my friend was diagnosed with breast cancer and I realized that the now is the time to live the purposeful and connected life I seek. (And for the many who have asked, the good news is that my friend is in remission.)

Loss has also reminded me to have gratitude and be present with those we love if we have the opportunity to do so. In my 40’s, many people I love have transitioned, and I have seen family and friends lose their parents, spouses, even children, to disease or senseless tragedy. My intent to spend time with loved ones is a priority for me. Continue reading

Land of the Free: Quotes About Freedom

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On July 4th, the United States celebrates it’s independence and birth as a new nation more than 200 years ago. Relatively young when it comes to nation, this country has been having a conversation about what freedom means and looks like since it’s inception.

Is freedom the right to do whatever you want?
Is it a home with a white picket fence?
Is it an idea or a philosophy?
We turn to great thinkers of our time and ask what freedom meant to them: Continue reading

The President’s Tweets and the Future of Shame

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Last week the new Twitter account @POTUS of President Obama became a lightning rod for the worst in social media behavior. Within minutes of its setup, as reported in the New York Times, the account was flooded with vitriolic racist tweets, complete with hideous images, including one of Mr. Obama with his neck in a noose.  Many troubling issues arise from this shameful behavior, but at the center is shame itself.

Behavior on the Internet, Twitter, and other social media outlets has become shameless, and at the same time, these outlets are being used to publicly shame people, especially innocent high school students being electronically bullied by cruel classmates. Shameless behavior has no consequences, and social media and the Internet afford easy anonymity. Put these two elements together, and you’ve got the perfect recipe for anti-social trends that keep building and building. Continue reading

Laura Ling Shares the Ritual that Saved Her Life

In early 2009, international reporter Laura Ling found herself in China standing on the boundary of North Korea as she sought to bring attention to North Korean refugees escaping the region. This was not the first time Ling was in a high-pressure area but she was not expecting to find herself captured and indefinitely detained by North Korean military.

She was so far from her family and was unsure whether she would ever return home. She was able to receive letters from home and knew that candlelight vigils were being held in the hope of seeing her safely returned, but in the midst of a tumultuous political climate, who know if that would happen? In the space of not knowing what her future would hold, Ling began a practice that would change her life forever. She shares her moving story here: Continue reading

Terrorism, Fear and the Movies

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This week the whole world grieved at the unfathomable murder of 140 students and teachers in Pakistan at the hands of terrorists. A little closer to home for many of us, theaters pulled “The Interview”, a satirical film from Seth Rogen and James Franco about a news team sent in to North Korea to assassinate Kim Jong-un, after hackers not only hacked Sony’s computer system but released threats to harm movie theaters and movie goers attending the film upon it’s opening this Christmas holiday.

There are a lot of ways to feel unsafe at the moment and people everywhere are speaking up about it. It seems that wherever there are those seeking to live in freedom, there will be others seeking to take it away. On a small scale, this our hope for you this holiday season: Continue reading

An Intent for Education

As someone who was blessed with good schools in my hometown, the education needs of others has often slipped my mind. Sure, living in cities after college had made me aware of multiple teacher strikes, as well as the calls to reform public schools. Still, having gone to public school myself, and afterwards a four year college, I wondered if perhaps it wasn’t the schools, but the neighborhoods, family units, and other factors that were more responsible for young students’ struggles.

That mindset, however, was entirely changed after aimlessly turning on DirecTV’s Audience Channel to discover the documentary, Commonwealth. The documentary follows the plight of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania’s oldest city, after 24 of their public schools were shut down in 2013. Educators, parents, and students themselves go on to discuss the disturbing fact that Pennsylvania spends an average of 400 million dollars per year in order to build and maintain their vast prisons (a number which is only growing). Students and teachers alike claim that in essence, the prisons are built for the youth of the city, who are given little to no chance to avoid incarceration as they are shuffled through the public education system. Horrifying details – such as a test administered to third grade students help determine which children are more or less likely to become criminals – emerged as I continued to watch the program.

Soon enough, I found myself investigating education not only in Philadelphia, but in my own city, Chicago, and elsewhere across the country. Documentaries such as Teach, which discuss educators in public schools, their triumphs and their struggles, and David Guggenheim’s first groundbreaking documentary, Waiting for ‘Superman’ were added to my list. Though Waiting for Superman has come under criticism recently, all of these documentaries at their core raise awareness for the cause of improved public education.

Education reform should be a much discussed issue, even for those who aren’t yet worried about their own children’s school system. In a country where many, widely different and uniquely talented students are subjected to standardized tests and curriculums that leave little room for exploring fascination and grooming each student’s interests, and where much emphasis is placed on acquiring a college education (which is often too expensive or leaves students in years of debt), we seem to be hanging our youth out to dry. Too many times we’ve heard others comment that they would hate to be graduating from college with the current job market, or they’re concerned about the economic troubles our future youth will be handed upon entering their adult lives.

So, for the sake of both my own and young students’ futures, I have made the intention to focus additional efforts on educational needs. Of course, one of the first steps is participating in local elections and concerning myself with the education platforms of politicians running for office. Many education decisions are made at the state level, meaning choosing a president with a focus on bettering schools is not nearly as effective (though it helps!) as voting for officials closer to home who have the interest and the ability to more quickly enforce changes within the schools closest to you.

Beyond that, I plan on opening myself up to the opinions of others – not just lawmakers and enforcers, but the teachers, students themselves, and administrators who face education struggles on a daily basis. It seems clear to me that these are the people who would have the clearest ideas regarding what education policies work, and which are leaving students to struggle. Supporting those educators, through better pay, better supplies, or whatever else they may require, will only benefit our young students and future workforce in the long run.

Finally, I intend to guide my own philanthropic efforts toward volunteering with after school programs and other activities that given students the opportunity to explore passions that may not be emphasized, or even available, within the public school system. You can too, it’s not as time-consuming as one may think! Whether it’s assisting with an after school sport, offering to help raise funds for your local school’s art and music programs, or even speaking to students about your own unique career, and how you got there, your efforts could inspire and help cultivate a young kid’s dreams!

 

One World: Arianna Huffington on Viewing Life with a Wider Lens

Arianna HuffingtonSo often in modern society, we look at success as being defined narrowly as attaining money and power. Particularly in the business world, there is a tendency to forget that there should be other measures of success including health, well-being, empathy and morality. These are the things that make up the Third Metric and there is a move by many in the business world to ensure that more emphasis is places on these things. Arianna Huffington is one business leader who is speaking passionately about this move.

When Arianna recently sat down with Deepak Chopra for a One World discussion regarding the Third Metric, she emphasized the importance of her mother in introducing the concept of the Third Metric to her. “She had always lived differently by putting relations and the heart and connections at the heart of everything and I had to catch up with her and to recognize why this is the only way to live.”

The entirety of that conversation is available now on NEWSWIRE.FM and one of the more striking points about the interview is that despite Arianna’s successes in digital arena, she is fully aware that being too wrapped up in technology is not conducive to well-being nor is it conducive to continued creative success. She explains to Deepak Chopra that “It is no longer possible to dismiss the value of meditation, sleep, learning to unplug from technology and reconnect with ourselves.” Human beings need more time alone, more space for self-reflection and a time to find the sources of creativity within ourselves.

Adrianna’s new book Thrive: The Third Metric to redefining Success and Creating Life of Well-Being, Wisdom and Wonder, which will be released this month, focuses on the ways in which we must take care of their own bodies and minds to achieve success. Without our health and well-being, money and power will never be enough to satisfy us.

The Third Metric does not however only focus internally. Rather, as Arianna explains in the One World episode, giving is also a critical part of what makes a person thrive. “We can now see how giving and compassion are one of the fastest ways to happiness.” So much of what makes a person stressed is their inability to look beyond themselves and at the bigger picture. Conversely, when we focus on being giving and compassionate people, we are viewing life with a wider lens which more often than not is a way to put our own stressors into perspective.

So much of the purpose of the Third Metric is ensuring that we are viewing our own lives from the right perspective. “Very often, life has a bigger imagination than we have and we just need to be open to it” Arianna explains. Not everything will always go as planned but finding happiness and truly being able to thrive requires openness to the changes in life and a willingness to face them with genuine intentions and a clear mind.

One World: David Gorodyansky Re-imagining Cyber Security

David GorodyanskyAs nearly every facet of our lives becomes more and more dependent on the sharing of data and information via the internet, we become increasingly vulnerable to virtual theft and breaches of privacy. With this new threat has come a demand for cyber security. David Gorodyansky is one of the savvy businessmen who are rising to meet that demand. His software security company, AnchorFree is responsible for creating to product ‘Hotspot Shield’ which became instrumental in fueling the dissemination of critical information during the Arab Spring.

A product that allows users to create a virtual private network, thus giving them uncensored access to the internet, Hotspot Shield was used by protestors in Egypt, Turkey and other countries to gain access to social media websites that were being banned by the government. This gave the protestors a platform for communication regarding the situation on the ground and a way in which to organize. “We had no idea how this idea to have free and secure Wifi could really impact the world in a meaningful way.”

When David started out, he and his business partner “wanted to find a way to impact the world.” He explained to Deepak Chopra when they sat down for a discussion on One World. “Our first interest in changing the world came way earlier when we were maybe 15 or 16, when we were inspired by our grandparents who had fought in WWII…we were really inspired and thought what will we ever do that will be that impactful; that can change the lives of millions of people?”

David set out from the beginning with the goal of making an impact in the lives of the most people possible and it was at San Jose State that he realized that “technology could be a really interesting way to do that.”

David’s success with AnchorFree shows once again the critical links between business and social activism and how the two are not, and cannot be, mutually exclusive in this new digital age. What started as an interesting college project, came to be one of the most critical pieces of technology for the advancement of democracy and freedom worldwide.

You can see David’s interview with Deepak Chopra and the rest of the One World series on Newswire.fm.

What You Need to Know About the State of the Union

State of the UnionTalking about politics is a touchy thing (and we don’t try to hide that we’re pretty liberal here at Intent – but we do promote listening to contrary opinions with an open ear and encourage healthy, respectful debate!). However, the annual State of the Union address isn’t really about which side of the aisle you vote for – it’s about civic responsibility to  be informed about the state of affairs of the country.

Last night the President covered several important topics from raging minimum wage, increasing America’s clean energy initiatives, creating greater access to higher education and ending the war in Afghanistan. He repeatedly called out Congress’ tendency to gridlock in debate rather than create legislation to help Americans move out of a recession and lead the way in the 21st century. He also re-iterated on several fronts, including minimum wage and infrastructure policy – that he will take whatever action he can without legislation to promote American progress, circumventing the roadblocks often created by tension in the House of Representatives.

The President’s most powerful moment however came at the end of the address when he called out  Sergeant First Class Cory Remsburg who was severely injured during his 10th deployment to Afghanistan. After being hit by a bomb while on duty, Cory was left unable to speak and barely move. After dozens of surgeries, hours of grueling physical therapy today, Cory has relearned to talk, stand and walk. He still has trouble with his left side but he and his father were both present for the State of the Union address. His presence garnered an extended applause and standing ovation from the entire assembly. “Cory reminds us what is best about America,” the President said.

If you missed the State of the Union, we’ve compiled some of President Obama’s most compelling quotes from last night:

On Congress’s responsibility to the American public: “If our business is shutting down the Government or ruining the good faith and credit in America then we are not doing right by the American people.”

On creating a bi-partisan Federal budget: ‘The budget compromise should leave us freer to focus on creating new jobs, not creating new crisis.”

On American wages: “But Americans overwhelmingly agree that no one who works full time should ever have to raise a family in poverty.”

On American troops and military involvement abroad: “I will not mire our sons and daughters in open ended war entanglements. We must fight battles that need to be fought, but not those that terrorists prefer for us. America must move off it’s permanent war footing.”

Closing statement: “If we work together, if we summon what is best in us, with our feet planted firmly in today but our eyes cast towards tomorrow, I know it is within our reach.”

To see these quotes in context and to hear the President’s point by point plans for energy initiatives, healthcare progress and the path to comprehensive immigration reform you can watch the full State of the Union Address below:

What do you think of the State of the Union? Leave your opinion in the comments below. Remember to be respectful of those that disagree!

*Picture credit to WhiteHouse.Gov

Are You Playing the Blame game?

Yosemite riverIf you’re listening to the news these days, you’re likely hearing a lot of jabbering on Capitol Hill about the dysfunction of healthcare.gov. Though not surprising, I still find it disheartening to hear grown adults, leaders in their field and leaders in government, pointing fingers and playing the blame game. In politics, whatever is wrong is almost always someone else’s fault, definitely the other party’s fault, and perhaps even another country’s fault.

Imagine, just for one moment, what it would be like to live in a world where, when things are amiss, leaders stood up and said, “I see what’s wrong with this picture, and here is where I am responsible for what’s happening. As a result, here’s what I can do to turn it around. Do you support me on this?” Can you imagine? I believe the support would be mind-boggling.

The chances of this happening any time soon appear dim (though with the announcement of Marianne Williamson running for congress in California, the prospects are looking up!). We can, however, focus on our own sphere of influence.

How often do you play the blame game? When something isn’t going well for you, do you point the finger elsewhere or do you examine where you can take responsibility and step up to the plate?

If something isn’t feeling right in a relationship, whether it’s with a friend, a family member, or a lover, do you look solely at the other person for what they can do to fix it, or do you look within at the part you play? It’s so easy to pick apart how other people are failing you, but perhaps not so enticing to examine how you are failing yourself.

For everything that’s going on in your life, you bear some responsibility, even if it’s only in your perspective and certainly in your response. That may sound harsh, but it’s actually exceptionally empowering as it gives you room to move, change, flow, and evolve.

When I was in my teens, my family went through a rough patch. Honestly, at times it was pretty hellish. Due to the circumstances, I realized I could pretty much do whatever I wanted and blame my behavior on family issues, as though it gave me permission to act crazy and throw my life away. Thankfully, at a young age I knew this was not the answer, and that goofing off would only mess with my own path, no one else’s. Ultimately, regardless of the situation at home, I still had jurisdiction over my actions and reactions. Though I had my ways of rebelling (sorry Mom!), I stayed on top of my academic game and ensured my pathway to University.

The same is true for romantic relationships that haven’t panned out. People always want to know, what happened? Well, I could give the easy answer and say he did this and that, but the truth runs so much deeper than that, and it’s one where we both hold responsibility. How could it be any other way? We were both in the relationship and both contributed to its dissolution. If I can’t look at my participation, how can I expect to grow from the experience and into the healthy relationship I desire?

Pointing fingers and placing blame only serves to disempower you. You’re basically saying it has nothing to do with you and therefore you can’t do anything about it. On the flip side, reflecting on where you can take responsibility creates an empowered stance. This leads to choice and action. This leads to forgiveness and gratitude. Isn’t that preferable to hopelessness, self-pity, and anger?

I’m not saying the answer is to let people off the hook. People do shady things, and sometimes that crosses a boundary that cannot be repaired in the context of the relationship. Yet even knowing when it’s time to walk away from an unhealthy situation is a form of personal empowerment. You are responsible for you, and if you find yourself in a situation where most of your energy is going toward what the other person or people are doing to wrong you, it’s time to focus your attention inward on where your power lies to make change for the better.

Yosemite View

Take action now:

1)    In the comments below, share an experience you are dealing with, or have dealt with, where you can take responsibility for your role.

2)    Share this article far and wide, with your friends, family, and social network. The ripple effect of people taking personal responsibility for themselves is profound!

Namaste,

Sasha

You can find Sasha over at her Empowering Wellness blog.

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