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What Lao Tzu And The Dalai Lama Would Say To Barack Obama

Posted: 12/01/09 09:08 AM ET

Is it now time for President Obama to heed advice from past presidents and other wise beings, advice to guide this history-making president as he goes forward.

For instance, with all the criticisms being shouted out against him, Obama might find some solace if he paid attention to Abraham Lincoln's words: If I were to try to read, much less answer, all the attacks made on me, this shop might as well be closed for any other business.

It has been nearly a year since the President took office, during which time, as Charlie Rose so succinctly put it, "the economic crisis may have waned but unemployment numbers are at a high, the Taliban is gaining strength in Pakistan and Afghanistan, his popularity has recently fallen to below 50% for the first time, and his policies are being questioned both at home and abroad."

Now Obama faces three of his biggest challenges: the war in Afghanistan, rising unemployment, and healthcare.

Arianna Huffington has argued that, "Obama's reported decision to escalate the war in Afghanistan calls into question his whole leadership. He stood before the country during the Democratic National Convention in 2008 and told voters that the greatest risk for the U.S. in Afghanistan would be to do the same old thing, play the same old politics, with the same old players and then expect different results."

As Thomas Jefferson said: I abhor war and view it as the greatest scourge of mankind. Which makes us ask why, President Obama, do we need to stay in Afghanistan? If Al Qaeda is a threat to national security, then why wouldn’t our allies send in a greater number of troops? Why are we there when other countries are neither as involved nor appear as committed as the U.S., and yet they are physically closer? Isn't this the time to focus on a transition so that the Afghan government takes back responsibility? And, Mr. President we cannot afford this war.

Surely there must be a saner and more humane response we can offer than just more troops. As Lao Tzu says: The best soldier does not attack. The superior fighter succeeds without violence. The greatest conqueror wins without a struggle …This is called intelligent nonaggressiveness.

The financial crisis is another big issue that needs to be addressed and the people need to hear it from  President Obama directly. Too much attention has been given to Wall Street at the expense of Main Street. As a result, many people feel that they have been abandoned. There is no doubt that the present administration inherited a huge mess from the past and we are sure they are trying to sort it out. But, as Arianna says, unemployment could become Obama's Katrina. The consequences of on-going high unemployment will be devastating as employment is critical for economic resilience.

As Franklin D. Roosevelt said: Not only our future economic soundness but the very soundness of our democratic institutions depends on the determination of our government to give employment to idle men… In our seeking for economic and political progress, we all go up - or else we all go down.

There are many voices from both sides shouting out their opinions about healthcare, with the right claiming the changes imply socialism, even while enjoying the benefits of Medicare. Obama needs to be clear on his healthcare plan as there is much prevailing confusion. He needs to speak to us all and let us know directly how and why this plan will work, and how we will all be better off, the elderly included. Talking openly and honestly will start to banish the nay-sayers. This affects us all, and we all need to be involved.

We are each a part of one human family, and none of us are able to do it alone. As the Dalai Lama says: The essence of human society is interdependence. No matter how powerful a single individual may be, it is impossible for that person to be successful all alone.

What happened to the Obama we saw in the run-up to the election? Where is that eloquent and passionate man now? He is deeply thoughtful and reflective, but his actions do not always reflect his words. He needs to communicate his decisions, and his reasons for those decisions. As Thomas Jefferson said: Honesty is the first chapter in the book of wisdom.

What advice would you offer President Obama? How do you feel about his first year? Do comment below. You can receive notice of our blogs every Tuesday by checking Become a Fan at the top.

You can order a copy of our book at: BE THE CHANGE, How Meditation Can Transform You and the World.


Ed and Deb Shapiro’s new book, BE THE CHANGE, How Meditation Can Transform You And The World, forewords by the Dalai Lama and Robert Thurman, with contributors such as Marianne Williamson, astronaut Edgar Mitchell, Ellen Burstyn, Michael Beckwith, Jon Kabat-Zinn, Jane Fonda, Jack Kornfield, Byron Katie, Dean Ornish, Ram Dass, Ed Begley, Jean Houston, Dan Millman and others is published by Sterling Ethos. Deb is the author of the award-winning book YOUR BODY SPEAKS YOUR MIND. Ed and Deb are the authors of over 15 books, and lead meditation retreats and workshops. Enjoy their 3 meditation CD’s: Metta - Loving kindness and Forgiveness; Samadhi – Breath Awareness and Insight; and Yoga Nidra – Inner Conscious Relaxation, available on their website:




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