Monday, October 19, 2009

Barack Obama: Audacity of Hope (Part 2)

OBAMA: The Audacity of Hope

"One thing I've discovered as I get older is that you have to do what is satisfying to you. In fact that's one of the advantages of old age, that you've finally learned what matters to you. It is hard to know that at twenty-seven. And the problem is that nobody else can answer that question for you. You can only figure it out on your own."

"I am getting to an age where I have a sense of what satisfies me, and although I am perhaps more tolerant of compromise, I know that my satisfaction is not to be found in the glare of television cameras or the applause of the crowd. Instead, it seems to come more often now from knowing that in some demonstrable way I've been able to help people live their lives with some measure of dignity.

"Benjamin Franklin once wrote to his mother explaining why he had devoted so much of his time to public service: 'I would rather have it said, He lived usefully, than, He died rich.'

That's what satisfies me now - being useful to my family and the people who put me where I am, leaving behind a legacy that will make our children's lives more hopeful than our own."


When I read those passages from Obama's book, I thought I was the man myself. Ya, I now feel that way too. Age had caught up with me and youth had passed me by. I now need to do what really satisfies me, not just doing things just to earn some money. There are two fundamental things that is far more important to life - values and ideals.

In Obama's words: "If I am wiser, it is mainly because I have traveled a little further down the path I have chosen for myself, and have gotten a glimpse of where it may lead, for good and for ill."

Ya, I think I am far wiser than I was before. The journey of my life had been rough and painstaking. I had toiled for decades, achieving nothing, except for the last few years where I was greatly blessed. Today, I had some success to savour and feel good. God willing I hope to continue with what I am doing for another few years where I can contribute back to the society - to do thing that are useful to my family and the people who helps to put me where I am now, and most of all, to those who needs my help and assistance. I hope to be able to leave behind some kind of legacy that will make my children's lives more hopeful than my own.

Life, afterall, is about achieving something satisfying.

This too is my Audacity of Hope!


Sunday, October 18, 2009

Barack Obama: Audacity of Hope


The Audacity of Hope

"We have a stake in one another, and that what binds us together is greater than what drives us apart, and that if enough people believe in the truth of that proposition and act on it, then we might not solve every problem, but we can get something meaningful done."


When I decided to run for the United States Senate, I wasn't so sure of myself. I had preserved my independence, my good name, and my marriage, all of which, statistically speaking, had been placed at risk the moment I set foot in the state capital.

But the years had also taken their toll. Some of it was just a function of my getting older; each successive year will make you more intimately acquainted with all of your flaws - the blind spots, the recurring habits of thought that will almost certainly worsen with time, as surely as the hitch in your walk turns to pain in your hip. In me, one of those flaws had proven to be a chronic restlessness; an inability to appreciate, no matter how well things were going, those blessings that were right there in front of me. It's a flaw that is endemic to modern life and one that is nowhere more evident than in the field of politics. Whether politics actually encourages the trait or simply attracts those who possess it is unclear.

Someone once said that: "Every man is trying to either live up to his father's expectation or make up for his father's mistakes."

I suppose that may explain my particular malady as well as anything else.

In any event, it was a consequence of that relentlessness that I decided to challenge a sitting Democratic incumbent for his congressional seat in the 2000 election cycle. It was an ill-considered race, and I lost badly - the sort of drubbing that awakens you to the fact that:

"Life is not Obliged to Work Out as you'd Planned."

A year and a half later, the scars of that loss sufficiently healed, I had lunch with a media consultant who had been encouraging me for some time to run for statewide office. As it happened, the lunch was scheduled for late September 2001.

"You realize, don't you, that the political dynamics have changed," he said.

"What do you mean?" I asked.

We both looked down at the newspaper. There, on the front page, was Osama bin Laden.

"Hell of a thing, isn't it?" he said, shaking his head.

"Really bad luck. You can't change your name of course. Voters are suspicious of that kind of thing. Maybe if you were at the start of your career, you know, you could use a nickname or something. But now ..." His voice trailed off and he shrugged apologetically before signaling the waiter to bring us the check.

I suspected he was right, and that realization ate away at me. For the first time in my career, I began to experience the envy of seeing younger politicians succeed where I had failed.

The pleasure of politics began to pale against the meaner tasks of the jobs: the begging for money, the long drives home and clipped phone conversation with a wife who had stuck by me so far but was pretty fed up with raising our children alone and was beginning to question my priorities.

I began to harbor doubts about the path I had chosen. I began to feel, after years of commitment to a particular dream, after years of waiting, to realize that it's gone just about as far as talent or fortune will take me. The dream will not happen, and I now faces the choice of accepting this fact like a grown-up and moving on to more sensible pursuits, or refusing the truth and ending up bitter, quarrelsome, and slightly pathetic.

Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Despair - I'm not sure I went through all the stages prescribed by the experts. At some point, though, I arrived at acceptance - of my limits, and, in a way, my mortality. I refocused on my work in the state senate and took satisfaction from the reforms and initiatives that my position afforded. I spent more time at home, and watched my daughters grow, and properly cherished my wife, and thought about my long-term financial obligations. I exercised, and read novels, and came to appreciate how the earth rotated around the sun and the seasons came and went without any particular exertions on my part.

And it was this acceptance that allowed me to come up with the thoroughly cockeyed idea of running for the Illinois Senate seat in 2004.

An up-or-out strategy was how I described it to my wife, one last shot to test out my ideas before I settled into a calmer, more stable, and better-paying existence. And she - perhaps more out of pity than conviction - agreed to this one last race, though she also suggested that given the orderly life she preferred for our family, I shouldn't necessarily count on her vote.

I let her take comfort in the long odds against me.


In 2000, Barack Obama was unsuccessful in his bid for a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives.

On March 2004, Barack Obama won the Democratic primary election to become the States Senator of Illinois.

On February 2007, Barack Obama began his run for the US Presidency. He beats Hillary Clinton for the Democratic Party presidential primaries and become the Democratic party nominee.

In the 2008 United States General Election, he defeated Republican nominee John McCain.

On January 20, 2009, Barack Obama was elected the 44th President of the United States.


Barack Hussein Obama II (born August 4, 1961) is the 44th and current president of the United States. He is the first African American to hold the office, as well as the first president born in Hawaii.

Obama previously served as the junior United States Senator from Illinois from January 2005 until he resigned after his election to the presidency in November 2008.

Obama served three terms in the Illinois Senate from 1997 to 2004. Following an unsuccessful bid for a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives in 2000, Obama ran for United States Senate in 2004. His victory in the March 2004 Democratic primary election for the United States Senator from Illinois brought him to national attention. His prime-time televised keynote address at the Democratic National Convention in July 2004 made him a rising star nationally in the Democratic Party. He comfortably won election to the U.S. Senate in November 2004.

He began his run for the presidency in February 2007. After a close campaign in the 2008 Democratic Party presidential primaries against Hillary Clinton, he won his party's nomination. In the 2008 general election, he defeated Republican nominee John McCain and was inaugurated as president on January 20, 2009. On October 9, 2009, Obama was awarded the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize.[4]

Saturday, October 03, 2009

The Allegory of the Cave

Do you remember the movie "The Shawshank Redemption"?

There was a very poignant part of the story where a man who had been in prison for most of his life finally gets released at the age of 70. But he has no way to live in the world outside of prison, and he ends up committing suicide.

That story reminds us of the difficulties of adjusting to a reality that differs from the world that's familiar and comfortable, even if that reality is one where we're "free" and aligns much more with what we truly value.

Our cultural domain is a kind of prison. It's about separation - from one another, from nature, and ultimately even from ourselves. In extraordinary moments, we break out of the story. We encounter a world of being one with ourselves, others, nature, and life in a very direct way. It shifts our awareness of our world and ourselves in radical ways. It brings a great sense of hope and possibility but also great emotional uncertainties. It can be hard suddenly finding ourselves outside the story that has organized our life up to that point. It may be wonderful to be free, but it is also terrifying.

More and more people are getting out of "prison" today. The situation is like what Plato described in the "Allegory of the Cave". If you have been living all your life in a cave, looking at shadows moving across the wall, suddenly finding yourself outside can be blinding.

Our cultural dominant story is also part of us, and the pressures to pull ourselves back into the cave or prison, to go back to our habitual ways of living, can be overwhelming sometimes.

It is one thing to have momentary transcendent experiences, to be outside the prison or cave, but it's another to stabilize the awareness they bring. But going back to the cave can also be painful, because you no longer quite fit there. We feel caught between both worlds. Part of us wants to flee the sunlight and return to the cave, but we are also more and more out of sync with life in the cave.

At the heart of our culture's dominant story sit core myths, and these myths shape how we make sense of the world. However, reductive science and redemptive religion are now breaking down and we can no longer simply wait around for a great leader to come along and lead us nor protect us. The economic myth we've been in for the past decade isn't serving us well either. People are waking up to the inadequacies of the economic myth and they are questioning whether it is all about short-term self-interest.

The important point is that in exploring the future, you aren't exploring a future someone else has written for you. It is instrumental of life itself, to accomplish what life wishes for you to accomplish. We had to use ourselves as an instrument for something better to emerge, being open to our larger purpose.

Everyone is born with a destiny or a purpose, and the journey of our life is to find it. The ultimate aim is to find the resources of character to meet your destiny, and to find the wisdom and power to serve life that way.

But without free choice or free will, that dance with destiny may not begin. Freedom and destiny are solemnly promised to us and linked together without meaning. When the sort of commitment we observe and see are happening, we feel as if we're freer than before and more free to be poor as well as more free to be further discriminated. It's a huge paradox.

People can no longer trust traditional institutional forms and structures, and if any one of institution sets itself up as the protector of such, it will backfire. Today the mysteries or the magical no longer take place in sanctuaries but in the main station, in the midst of everyday life.

We may not be able to change the larger systems overnight, but we can commit to the continual development of awareness and the capacity to choose. The capacity to choose is key, and that's always linked to our awareness.

Our fate is still very much in our hands. There must be profound transformation of our spirit and mind and of our relationships to each other and to the earth. We must be conscious and aware that every choice we make has the power to affect things one way or another. And those choices are a direct result of how deeply we're sensing.

We need to give ourselves to something larger than ourselves, and to become what we were meant to become. Then we can attain the goals that we're supposed to achieve.

Until the larger community start to master their thoughts, to pacify the minds, we won't be able to escape this prison of ours.

As Phil Lane says, "The longest road we will ever walk is the sacred journey from our head to our heart."


"Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies"

Extracted from: "Presence"
Peter Senge, C. Otto Scharmer, Joseph Jaworski, Betty Sue Flowers
Nicholas Brealey, 2005