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Leadership Mistakes

A Man of Unity and Healing: Barak Obama on “a More Perfect Union”

Gita Saraydarian asked:

Barak Obama’s speech on March 18th, 2008 will go down in history as one of the great speeches given in our time. I highly recommend hearing it or reading the text. His spiritual maturity is a shining light. He words carried depth and showed a person who is not afraid to tackle sensitive issues by going to the heart of them and revealing them for what they are.

What did I like about his speech?

1. Instead of spitefulness and rancor and self-defense, he elevated the problems of race, hatred, divisiveness, inequality and such by framing them as a process of unfoldment that we all need to care about. It is a process of becoming a more perfect union on the individual or national levels, a process of integration with our essential being.

2. He showed that we do not throw out a person from our life because we disagree with him. Not everything said and preached in places of worship are accepted and agreed upon by every single person sitting in the pews. With his loving care, Obama may have a better impact on the Pastor Wright than he would have if he condemned him as a person. We are all subject to make mistakes and it would be a lonely world if every time someone made a mistake everyone left and abandoned him. Obama understood his Pastor because he understands his own inner workings and understands how our personal experiences shape and condition our life narrative.

3. He showed that we do not need to perpetuate hatred, especially in our political discussions. This is what is lacking. Pundits and newscasters are all looking for divisiveness to bite on and tear at. Journalists and pundits cannot stand to find harmony or goodness; they thrive on division and hatred and puny and vindictive attitudes rather than gravitas and generosity of human spirit. Interviewers pounce and interrupt so they look important and smart, trying every trick they can to belittle and trap the person into saying something he or she will later regret. It is such a comedy to watch!

Yes, we do have hatred in our hearts and in this country. We need to think how to face it and not let it go for another 20 years or more, ruining more people’s lives and diminishing the very soul and spirit of our children. It is time we grow up! We have so much hateful rhetoric now in our country against Muslims, Mormons, Gays, Mexicans, New Agers; you name it. Imagine someone telling you that if you have a name like Hussein that terrorists will dance in the streets if you are elected? What does that say to every little boy name Hussein? Separatism and hatred are not the purview of some people; they are qualities that people of all races and religions and colors and tribes and nations and regions have in common. These traits are most visible when people live in fear, in ignorance, are misled, are encouraged to hate, are mis-educated, are taught to believe that different is equal to bad, are led to believe that the world is one of material existence alone, that scarcity rules, that nothing ever changes, that there are “those people” there who are trying to get us and so on and on and on…. Every person has some little seed of hatred that, when fanned, will turn into regrettable acts.

4. Leaders have the moral responsibility to condemn hatred and separative acts, even if they have to condemn it from inside their own “tent.” The best revelation is the one that comes from inside and the best healing can happen from those on the inside who understand what has just been revealed to them.

5. All leaders — religious and political especially — have a deep responsibility to be sensitive to what they are truly preaching. Some (not all) preachers and political leaders preach hatefulness and separatism. Divisiveness sells and puts fear into people and fear makes people more “obedient” to your message and your will and your agenda. Preachers and leaders have the responsibility to uncover, discover, and articulate social injustices; to articulate righteousness; to show how to heal; and most of all, to give hope that change is possible. Giving hope is the greatest service a religious or political leader can do.

6. The definition of being a believer, a good person, or a patriot is not the single definition given by those in positions of power or by pundits or journalists. The best patriots are not necessarily those who wear flags on their lapels and ribbons as armbands; the best patriots are those who want to expose the pain and the misery and the inequality and bring it to light so that it can be solved.

7. We heal only when we face and identify the illness. Our illness is a spiritual illness of separatism and materialism. We need to identify it inside of our individual hearts. We will see that we have a huge heart and, when it is open and cleaned out, we have nothing to fear. There are millions of Americans with open hearts. We can increase that number because it makes human sense. We do not have to fall in love with each person. As my Mom says, “You do not have to put your sleeping bag next to those you do not like; it is OK not to like everyone. You can choose to put your sleeping bag somewhere else. But you do not have to kick and hate the person either.” Good thought; sounds better in Armenian.

8. Each human being has inner contradictions. These are the contradictions of soul vs. personality needs. The principles that we believe in are not always the principles that we live by every single minute of the day. Contradictions of race and religion and national security are huge and complex issues and reveal inner contradictions. They are not going away by themselves. I am not searching for a state of peace where we hold hands and sing “kumbaya” at the end of the discussion. We are not suddenly going to be hit by lightning and resolve everything completely. But just the process of talking and opening and recognizing the internal contradictions takes the venom out of the human condition and opens us up to seeing that others live under the same fears and questions as we do. And, we can do something about it.

What open-minded people are facing now in all walks of life is the same old fight that Arjuna faced in the story of Bhagavat Gita. It is the fight of the growing human soul faced with the contradictions of his material self, the old against the new. Old, entrenched interests do not go “quietly into the night.” They struggle to hold on; they are identified and their whole existence is tied to their identifications. We need boldness in every human endeavor to continuously face the challenges of our new living conditions. We especially need courageous Pastors and Rabbis and Imams and Spiritual and Political Leaders and Teachers of all sorts who can articulate these contradictions for us. We need True Leadership.

I congratulate Barak Obama for such honesty, integrity, and the sober, inner sense of righteousness to call the issues as they truly are. He has given us the freedom to address issues that are deep inside of us. Humanity needs such brave souls to take us to the unfoldment of our potentials of being more perfect. I think it is a worthy cause.

Gita

www,tsg-uk.org (UK)

www.tsgfoundation.org (USA)

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