Monday, January 19, 2009

This is Our Moment

I would like to dedicate this piece to the symbolic importance of tomorrow (Jan 20th, 2009), when Barack Obama takes over as the President of United States of America at a critical juncture in time for the World.

I want to start by sharing a personal story of mine. I believe that I have strong work ethics which I imbibed by watching my father work very hard to become an entrepreneur. I've given my best wherever I have worked. But there was time in my career as a result of a misunderstanding or let’s call it a bad reading of a senior management person, I was put on a PIP (performance improvement plan). Lots of people told me that this is a clear sign that I will be shown the door soon.

For the first few weeks, I struggled to understand why this would happen to me. I then decided to take it up as a challenge and prove them wrong by working even harder. During those tough months of probation, I also spent a lot of time learning about effective leadership, why good employees leave and how to retain them. And I came out a winner from that experience.

Similarly, when you look back in history, we human beings have made great progress during times of adversity. We are going through such a period right now. There is imminent climate crisis, economic woes, inadequate educational system, disproportionate health care cost disadvantage, national debt which is out of control and energy crisis. There are other issues like poverty, terrorism, war and human right violations.

In the face of the disastrous past, for the US my hopes are on Obama, who has created a groundswell of being a proponent of "Change". I am hopeful that he will inspire and steer this nation out of the economic woes, create pathways of change in the health care and educational system, and take a leadership role in fighting the climate crisis. But he cannot do it alone. The prosperity in the past few decades has made the people in this nation reckless about consumption and disconnected with government policies. It is time now to shift our focus from the American Idol, the Brangelinas, and the quick-fix diets and be engaged, vigilant citizens.

Let’s stop the mindless consumerism and embrace the philosophy of “Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle”. Teach our kids that there are only finite resources on this earth and we cannot keep sucking the living daylights out of it. It is time to set aside the individualistic culture and come together to make common good the focus of politics and work on solutions to the monumental problems at hand. 20 years from now, in retrospect let these years not be marked for recession, Madoff scandal, record high unemployment etc, but for an era when human beings came together to change the course of history.

Borrowing words from Obama's victory speech in November:"…let us ask ourselves - if our children should live to see the next century; if my daughters should be so lucky to live as long as Ann Nixon Cooper, what change will they see? What progress will we have made?

This is our chance to answer that call. This is our moment…"


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