Obama and the Tragedy of Apathy

Listening to Barack Obama’s acceptance speech, I got two messages. The first was tactical. Like a general mapping out a battle strategy, Obama has listened carefully to his critics, and in the speech he rolled out rebuttals, one by one, to the charge that he must announce plans and solutions to the country’s nagging problems. His trademark eloquence mostly had to wait until the last few moments, but when it came, the giant stadium audience was moved. Yet for all its effectiveness in terms of tactics, the speech didn’t dispel the specter that hung over it, and over the Obama campaign as a whole. The second message I heard was one of doubt and bewilderment. Can it really be true that a vast swath of the electorate thinks that Obama isn’t an American or Christian, that he’s a Muslim who wants to raise their taxes? A wiffle ball celebrity who has no real ideas?

At the root of this specter is apathy and indifference. By now, the country should know who Obama is and what he stands for. Most people do, in fact, and they have picked sides. They probably picked sides months ago, since the better informed a voter is, the more likely they are to make their decisions in the opening months of an election. The least informed and most apathetic voters make up their minds late, and it’s these whom Obama must persuade. Can he?

Waking Dreams

Good morning,
before going to bed last night I got a note from a friend
who wrote
it is time to hit the hay
so this morning my imagination runs with the image
hitting the hay
becoming a needle in the haystack of dreaming
the form we take during sleep expands
and we enter the dream theater
where up and down go sideways
and all the rules of the physical realm disappear
waking dreams
I have

Calling

We often speak of receiving a "call" as a once in a lifetime experience through which a person is guided to her or his divine purpose. But I prefer to think of "callings" or "vocations" as things that are repeated throughout our lives, shaped by circumsttance and context. Here’s a case in point:

Mallika Chopra: Is Palin Supposed to Attract the Women Vote?

In choosing 1st term Alaskan Governor Sarah Palin as his VP pick,McCain and his advisors have demonstrated how thick headed they arewhen it comes to women. Do they honestly believe women are so stupid tovote purely for a woman? I supported Hillary because she was a smart,experienced woman who supported and has spent her life fighting for theissues I believe in, and I felt confident she would be a great AmericanPresident.

Apparently, Republicans were desperate to choose a woman, notactually caring about experience or judgment, but solely focused onchanging the dialogue and showing how bold they can be. Also, she isstaunchly pro-life – an effort to attract the Republican conservativebase. Is that going to attract the women voters who believe in theirown right to choose?

The Obama/Biden ticket represents change, but also wise judgment,experience, hope and a new direction at its core. It is a choice thatis the right one for America, not made just for a news headline.

ON JARGON

As a communication and development professional who has worked in various parts of India for over 24 years, I have always been against the use of jargon and have advocated the use of simple language and simplicity of style to ensure effective communication and avoid distortion in communication.

However, the situation in India has changed greatly over the past ten years and products of premier B-schools and the reputed IIMs and IITs have completely changed the face of business communication in India. Most such products seem to think that using big words that are difficult to pronounce and difficult for the layman to understand as well as using what we would call Jargon was the quality and prerogative of a Manager.

I therefore was pleasantly surprised upon reading an article during September 2006 in the New Delhi edition of The Times of India, regarding the visit of the Indian Railway Minister, Lalu Prasad Yadav to the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad, in which it was mentioned that Laluji used the tools of easy language & rustic logic to explain to the students of IIM-A gathered there about the success of the Indian Railways.

This has only vindicated my stand that Management as a science is deliberately confusing the layman with high sounding concepts & jargon which makes it appear highly specialized & professional, while in reality the simple language & rustic logic of our ancestors has clearly expounded the ways & means to go about becoming a success in life; let alone becoming successful Managers.

Jargon which has only vague and abstract meaning is also used to create confusing & complicated theories which have inhibited Management’s growth and development as an Art and a Science. In this connection I wish to quote the words of Herman Melville who has observed that “a man of true Science uses but few hard words and those only when none others will serve his purpose; whereas the smatterer in Science

Praise and Criticism

Dear Friends,

Greetings!!!

Praise and Criticism

We interact with the world around us through our choices, speech, actions. Whether we look for feedback or not, we get feedback from the world for some of our choices and actions. Some of our actions are praised. Some of our actions are criticized. Receiving genuine praise and recognition provides us assurance, validation and encouragement of our choices. We can also learn and change our actions from healthy criticism.

How we handle praise or criticism is based on our self-image, self-concepts of how we see ourselves. If we have healthy self-image, we will be able to handle praise and positive criticism appropriately. If we allow others praise to reach our head, it can increase our superiority and arrogance. Sometimes unhealthy criticism can break our hearts and demoralize us. Sometimes we avoid doing anything new, because of fear of criticism from others. I learned recently that if you want to be a leader, you need to be willing take criticism.

Yoga scriptures say – you are not your self-image, your true Self is beyond praise or criticism and beyond any duality. So, have an healthy attitude towards praise and criticism. Don’t get elated when you are praised and don’t get depressed when you are criticized. It is easier said than done. Handling praise is much easier than handling criticism. We all have vulnerable areas in our life and when someone bruises these areas with their criticism, we are bound to be affected.

Dr Deepak Chopra offers a mirror exercise that you can practice to have an healthy attitude towards Praise and Criticism. Everyday in the morning when you see yourself in the washroom mirror – look deeply into your eyes and say these following affirmations

- Iam neither superior to anyone nor inferior to anyone

- Iam immune to criticism or flattery

- Iam fearless of any situations

- Iam pure consciousness

Let all your choices and actions come from the place of love. Let your speech be pleasant and kind. It may be even wise to praise, than criticize unless a critical feedback is asked for.

Recently, I was volunteering for a Chopra Center program where I saw this video “Free hugs” – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vr3x_RRJdd4 It was a powerful video that moved me to tears. Enjoy the labor day weekend. Smile, relax and have fun

Peace,

Venkatesh

ON LOVE, SEX AND MARRIAGE

As mentioned earlier a friend from a virtual community that I once belonged to had posed a set of ten questions related to life and the spirit and I am posting answers to each of these ten questions as separate pieces.

 

The second question that was posed to me was on the vast subject of love, sex and marriage. A lot of eminent souls have already discussed and elaborated on these subjects until they have become thread bare and I don

Scary-seeking Kids

Question: Is there any particular reason my 12 year old son likes scary rock bands ? I do worry sometimes, but he is a nice and caring boy, he meditates and myself as a 14 year old I liked skateboarding t-shirts with skeletons… But what is it that makes him and his friends like those scary images? Sometimes I am thinking about forbidden him wearing those t-shirts, but he likes it, and I can’t justify for him why he can not wear them. I have told him I myself find those images being very scary.

Answer:

There are many possible reasons why he might be attracted to this kind of music and those scary images. One possibility that occurs to me is that many of the traditional rites of passage for adolescent boys transitioning into men require the boys to confront scary fearful images and situations as a way of eliciting their courage to become men. The fearful images, masks and trials are used as part of the initiation ceremony to make the initiate know that he can no longer rely on the protection of the mother and that he must now find source of strength and power within to deal with the scary forces that confront him. Perhaps your son is drawn to these scary images as an adolescent instinct to provide a surrogate rite of passage. Maybe you can find some kind of adult challenge for him to validate his emerging power.

Love,

Deepak

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