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Archive for May 12th, 2010

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

THE SEMESTER IS OVER AND NOW WHAT?

This is not a political endorsement but a process endorsement.

It starts something like this: Under pressure, few of us are as calm as President Obama appears to be.

How does he keep his cool? Someone might ask, “Does he meditate? Does he practice yoga? Has he tried any of the hip therapies that have promised everything that the media has pushed since his election? How about brain exercises? Those are ‘cool’ right now… What kind of medicinal herbs, salt-free diets or protein shakes is he provided that the rest of us need to know about?”

Along with 92,000 other people packed into the University of Michigan’s football stadium last weekend, President Obama deliver a remarkable speech very calmly to the Michigan’s graduating class of 2010.

Volcanoes are erupting, oil vomiting from the ocean, rivers flooding, car bombs smoldering in Times Square and the birthplace of all nation-states collapsing in Europe while wars of our own making are raging along with division and derision of the American people on what to do and how to do it. The whole world seems to be wrenching by the porcelain. Everyone’s ‘rules’ are being broken in so many ways. Yet, President Obama appears to be calm.

Attacks on him as a person, on the office of the President and on his policies are everywhere, any one of which could anger, embattle or create greater amenity toward those yelling, plotting or disagreeing.  Just writing about it spikes my blood pressure.  Yet, he’s been doing something we were taught is a good rule to have; he is listening.

While some contemplate their own navel, march to their small righteousness, stand firm in mystic convictions or ponder what therapies to experiment with next, he interacts with as many Americans as possible.  As pointed out elsewhere, every night President Obama reads ten letters from American citizens. He says, “This is my modest effort to remind myself of why I ran in the first place” he admits. He also admits that about a third of the writers call him an idiot or worse, which is how he knows he’s getting “a good representative sample” he concedes with his typical delivery smile.

If you turn on the news, read the printed media or listen to the talk while getting a Starbucks, you can sense why friends, family and strangers are on edge. Serious arguments about serious issues are bound to arouse emotions during these unique but fear-filled times. Obviously, we can’t solve our problems if we can’t hear the good ideas delivered in the cacophony of that fear. Our fears challenges the possibility to disagree with people’s positions without demonizing them or questioning their motives or patriotism.

The advice he gave to the newly-minted graduates of ‘Big Blue’: “For four years you’ve been exposed to diverse thinkers and scholars,” he said. “Don’t narrow that broad intellectual exposure just because you’re leaving…   Instead, seek to expand it. If you grew up in a big city, spend time with somebody who grew up in a rural town. If you find yourself hanging around with people of your own race or ethnicity or religion, include people in your circle who have different backgrounds and life experiences. You’ll learn what it’s like to walk in somebody’s shoes.”

My advice to you at the end of this class is as robust and just as meaningful contextually: Listen. Suspend disbelief that anyone could accept ideas that you don’t have. Avoid emotional fits; they’re all exhaust. Then, question what you think you know, what your teachers, authorities, gurus, priests or potentates tell you is the ‘absolute’ or the ‘new’ truth. This process has no known short-cuts, is hard & can be lonely but will keep you going when others bog down from rhetoric.

This is not a political endorsement but a process endorsement.

Contorted, twisted and purloined from a P. Warner Post in The Huffington Post : May 9, 2010

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