03/18/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated Nov 17, 2011

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

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
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