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Posts tagged ‘politics’

Is Hollywoodland a Nexus of a Small World or a One-World?

Hollywood has always been a great part of my life. I went to college for 4 years, studying Broadcasting and Cinema. Before that I was singer from a very musical family where music had been much of a profession. Then I spent more than 15 years working in the Hollywood film industry where you might say that increasingly Hollywood became an entity far beyond a community, with its own language, politics, standards and immunities.

As a child I was also being influenced by my parents’ love of music and film, especially American movies and music.  You see, when Singapore was occupied by the Japanese during WWII, their lives were spared right at the very last moment when they had been ordered to dig their own graves to be executed the next.  The very next day heralded V-J Day when American, British and other Allied Forces won the war and it was over.  Therefore while Singapore was a British Colony, they were huge fans of everything American and rightly so.

I remember while growing up, to me as well as many others, Hollywood was America and America was Hollywood.  We learned all about American life, culture and society through American film, music and television.  We also had our equal share of entertainment from all other parts of the globe and frankly, they were never ever synonymous or indistinguishable from each other.  American movie greats, while some were of international fame, still considered the honor and privilege to be a part of an American studio production with its distinct American flair. If you were anyone at all, it all began and ended here.

Increasingly now I have come to a realization that it is becoming progressively more difficult to tell apart between an American production and an international production.  It’s not just a top billing international actor gracing our screens anymore, it’s more a strange blend of culture, tradition and philosophy, lacking in purity and changing in value a final product that would have lent a distinct flavor to further our appreciation.

I for one welcome every now and then, a multi-cultural effort in entertainment, I come from a multi-cultural country and society, but my love for American entertainment is waning as the Industry is watered down along with its influx of foreign talent, standards and ideologies, good and bad.  Has it become better or has it become muddy? It’s not just in Cinema.  American daytime television now has foreign hosts, American news has foreign news-casters, American commercials have foreign spokespersons with such thick accents they’re hardly articulate enough in their diction to actually sell a product in English! We have foreign judges for American musical talents.

There is a difference to me between importing a product and importing people.  Is it still a small world, like Walt Disney dreamed, or is it one world, one vision like Mao Tse Tung dreamed? Hollywoodland has long opened her borders and given away jobs that would belong to American talent just like any other outsourced product.  In essence it may be a beautiful thing.  In reality you lose your individualism and uniqueness when you cease to maintain defined borders.  Perhaps that’s what one-world means to some.  My personal perspective on this is really – one world, many differences. It’s what makes this diverse world a beautiful place – living together with our differences.  Not eliminating our core attributes. Not by displaying our similarities as a forced all-blended people, but finding harmony within our intrinsic core similarities and learning about our exceptionalism by highlighting our diversity – like many musical notes all distinctive on their own, coming together in a beautiful piece of music.

When John Lennon’s Imagine was first released in 1971, I was a mere child of nine and the lyrics always saddened me.  It saddened me to think even at that young age that the world would be a sad place without Heaven, without countries, without something to live for, without religion, without possessions. In my childlike mind those are the cherished things that stood out and I wondered how that in order to eliminate the negative, we had to also eliminate the positive, that the result could still be peace and sharing, brotherhood and living as one.  It was a song encouraging nothingness, and that was supposed to be everything.

Well we no longer have to “Imagine” the words of John Lennon; Hollywoodland has given us a flavor of it.

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Who’s Occupying Your Mind While You Occupy Wall Street?

The Occupy Wall Street protesters going into their fourth week, is more telling about them than about the situation they seem to be protesting.  Young people being swept away by the seduction of the concept of “Revolution” without really knowing who is pulling their strings.  You can hear it in their inarticulate lack of clarity, lack of coherence and lack of congruence when asked to explain what it is they seek. If you know the differences you can tell between heartfelt originality from core passion and parrot-phrasing sound-bite answers belonging to someone else.

Quoting madmen, murderers and dictators of the past like Che Guevara, Karl Marx, Mao and even George Bernard Shaw without understanding that these men who aimed to destroy individuality had ideologies far alien to core American values of individual pursuit of happiness. How does one allude to aligning themselves with ideologies that condemn individual rights to an abundant life while at the same time protesting for their individual rights to life, liberty and pursuit of happiness, without noticing? While these youth fight for upholding their individual rights to their futures, they sadly cannot see it slipping away from them.

Social justice, they chant? Well I would wonder if they are aware that folks like George Bernard Shaw who was a Marxist-Socialist and believed in eugenics politics, believed and advocated that if one was too sick or old to be of any more use to society, society should kill them humanely. How’s that for social justice? So with that sentiment I would wonder if these impressionable youth have diligently done their homework to research exactly what the philosophies of the Movement’s ideology that they so passionately promote and so willingly succumbed to really indicate. Will they end up getting what they wish for or will they wish they didn’t? Either way they’ll get what they wish for, but we only hope that they understand what they are really wishing for.

While we all yearn to be a part of something greater than ourselves, it would be astute to remember that it is what we bring into the cause that is unique to our Self that sets us apart, yet fits perfectly into the mosaic of respectful diversity.  Participating in demonstrations for extended periods of time may get them to change others, but how have they changed in themselves? While they prevail in getting others to change, their lives remain at a standstill with only effort going into the act of protesting. Within this period, they cease to take responsibility for themselves and stop actively pursuing their own futures. A revolution about nothing.  Can forcing change on other people really better our own lives at the core? Will they have effected change through their own individual pursuit of happiness or will their lives only improve while remaining as victims, at the mercy of other people’s actions and change?

So as the movement draws more individuals, seemingly giving up their individuality, I end with a thought worth noting.  A whole lot of living has been done according to the concept of “going with the flow”. Being flexible and going with the flow is good, but remember that understanding whose flow, and the direction of the flow first, is more important. Sometimes we have to be like the salmon and swim upstream in order to spawn life and really extend ourselves to create something more.

In this instance, I’d rather be a salmon than a lemming.

“A part of eugenic politics would finally land us in an extensive use of the lethal chamber. A great many people would have to be put out of existence simply because it wastes other people’s time to look after them.”

Source: George Bernard Shaw, Lecture to the Eugenics Education Society, Reported in The Daily Express, March 4, 1910.

“We should not say that one man’s hour is worth another man’s hour, but rather that one man during an hour is worth just as much as another man during an hour. Time is everything, man is nothing: he is at the most, time’s carcass.”

Source:  Karl Marx, Economic Manuscripts: Capital Vol. I – Chapter Twenty-Four

“The theory of Communism may be summed up in one sentence: Abolish all private property. “

Source: Karl Marx. Marx & Engels, Library 1848, Manifesto of the Communist Party: Chapter 2

 “A revolution is not a dinner party, or writing an essay, or painting a picture, or doing embroidery. A revolution is an insurrection, an act of violence by which one class overthrows another.”

Source: Mao Tse Tung, from The Tyrants: 2500 Years of Absolute Power and Corruption (2006) by Clive Foss

“A revolutionary must become a cold killing machine motivated by pure hate. We must create the pedagogy of the The Wall!”

Source: Che Guevara, Cuba Archive. The Wall is a reference to the wall where Che’s enemies stood before his firing squads.

“The revolutionary war is a war of the masses; it can be waged only by mobilizing the masses and relying on them.”

Source: Mao Tse Tung, The Little Red Book, Chapter 8, 1964

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Parody of a Paradox: Land Ownership

How Far Back Does One Go?

I’ve been reading a lot for a while now about the agendas of certain groups promoting their idea of what they believe to be fair-minded rightful ownership of land.  In this they have swept masses off their feet all in the name of defending the “suppressed”.  While this may be an accurate issue in some cases, the more prominent ones, upon further inspection, are factually inaccurate. Upon studying this, I’ve decided to present, as a fellow immigrant from another hemisphere, some humorous yet poignant perspectives to some of the premise they promote.

Rightful ownership – United States – Mexico – Native America – Israel – Palestine – China – Tibet – Australia – Aboriginals – ancestral lands –   these are some of the sound bytes chanted by many in demonstrations. You see these groups spelling Texas as Tejas, you hear schools being taught “new history” all based on personal filters and beliefs of those that teach, ultimately undermining actual historical events and indoctrinating the uninformed with a new backdrop. Who are the rightful owners? Let’s really break this down according to what they preach.

So we have groups of people coming together from all races, nationalities and walks of life chanting protests like “give back the land”, “free the so-and-so’s” in righteous indignation—wait just a minute… First of all, if you or I were to get actively involved in a campaign of sorts, I would guess we would have to first be so totally clear in our intent as to be completely committed and aligned to the cause. I would first have to examine my own heritage and roots and decide upon conclusion that based on where I have come from, do I really have the right to be here too? Or should I go back to my ancestral land (for as far back as I can trace) and then commit to my cause from there? Seems logical, doesn’t it? If you talk the talk, then walk the walk—as far back to your land as you can.

As we experience a flash of the past, do we feel connected to civilizations lost? Are they just part of history or do they seem real today?

So let’s use the Tejas example.  Since these groups seem to believe that Texas was taken from the Mexicans, then do the Mexicans have a right to Mexico? I mean, the Spanish influence in Central and South America clearly indicates the Spanish conquering, oppression and maybe—apartheid with the natives at one time? Could it really be? But then the Spanish conquered most of the land from the Mayans and the Incans, the Aztecs and the numerous native tribes that resided all over the Americas… Oh wait… some of them are no longer here—to whom on earth do we return the land rightfully?

So let’s say that I’m an activist on this issue and I am…of English decent, a 10th generation American. Do I really have the right to be living here? Shouldn’t I just go back and preach? But then, am I really English or maybe a blend of an inter-marriage… maybe I’m a product of pre-British Empire…the Roman Empire…Greek…Celtic… Oh God! What am I??? Where is my land? The scenario is ridiculous, isn’t it? As ridiculous as negating human migration which has been occurring since before the Tower of Babel!

In all honesty, unless the average person today has a clear concept about geography, ancient geography, history and geo-politics do we really have the right to be righteously indignant about this? Should we commit to an ideal only if we commit to learning everything there is to learn about it and more, and are therefore certain we know with what we are dealing? Laughably I have watched many a Jaywalking with Leno to understand that some average Americans think that the bordering countries of the United States are Australia and Hawaii…  In many surveys, the average person has not much of an idea of what race or nationality of people belong to which country and which country actually exists—today! Would I be considered absurd if suddenly protested the migration of birds during the year? But they’re not indigenous!

Not just tourists visiting the past, but residents who bridge the past to the present.

For the rest of us humans, indigenous or not, the traditions we may carry till today still connects us to our ancestral past, our people, heritage and land. We blend, we mix, we become a part of a greater society as a whole while still maintaining our heritage if that’s what is important to us as individuals as well as a community.  It may just be that our true identities, where we came from and where we belong is a tapestry of a wonderful blend of this wondrous planet. Migration has occurred long since pre-historic times, some of us have been around for a long, long time, some of us less—a product of the old blended with the new, migration along with expulsions and exiles.  We are a tapestry of our living Earth, and a witness to what has once been and what will be—we, her Human partner from the very start – in  the Beginning…or are we?


“If I had no sense of humor, I would long ago have committed suicide.”  – Mahatma Gandhi

**Note: These are just a few perspectives.  I have more as should we all.

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The End of Osama bin Laden, the Beginning Of…

With all the news of Osama bin Laden’s demise at the hands of U.S. troops sweeping the world, it’s too much an enigma to by-pass without writing about this significant event.  I would like to begin by stating that in the spirit of “closure”, much celebration in the U.S. has been taking place.  Have you been asking questions or going along with the flow? What exactly is the celebration really about? Is it the victory of this particular Administration?  Is it the relief of turning a chapter?  Is it the death of an evil man? Is it that we believe things will finally go back to “normal”? Is there really a reason to celebrate death the way our enemies do?

While it should be noted that hunting down the man behind what has been considered the most profane crime in U.S. history was always a necessity, bin Laden was never the be-all and end-all in our fight against terror. He was merely a leader of one group among many whose goal is one and the same in the advent of promoting a common agenda.  Let’s keep in perspective that while it’s easy to be swept away in the mass emotion, that our fight against terror continues and does not end with his demise.

One of the things that struck me when looking at videos and photos of Americans rejoicing at this justice, was the interspersing of interviews with families of September 11th victims, who once again are brought back to that fateful day with the pain of having lost their loved ones.  It is interesting and insightful to note that their sentiment was far from one of rejoicing, in the fact that this will never bring back their murdered loved ones. This is a solemn fight and a solemn victory, hopefully one of many, both in the past since 9/11 and in future endeavors to put an end to this terror-instilling dogma which has become in some way, our faceless enemy or more likely, our enemy with a million faces.

So is this closure?  Perhaps to some extent.  But like any other race, we are merely at one marker. While we are a people who would much prefer to have happy, prosperous lives, living in harmony with humankind whom we consider our friends and even brothers and sisters, we nevertheless have to remember that we are all a product of the summation of our core beliefs, experiences, culture and up-bringing. We look through our prism once again and view all the facets of humankind and acknowledge these differences, even though they are comprised within the same prism.  If we view all others in our own merits, then we risk stagnation of our own understanding as we keep our heads buried in the sand.

While we feel triumphant at the idea of putting an end to one aspect in our fight, know that the fight was not against one man, but against an ideology;  be assured there will be another and another and another, all in the name of continuing a vow in reverence and truth.   These may seem like virtuous sentiments, yet you might ask, “In whose truth are these acts carried out?” Why then don’t they match in action and integrity with my truth or yours?

When you begin to think multi-dimensionally, realize that there are many things in this world that we do not yet understand and cannot package neatly into our model of the world. Simply know that they are there and that we will gain the understanding when we decide that we finally are ready to see what has been always there for us to see and comprehend. Realize that love is also multi and inter-dimensional, where there are layers upon layers of understanding that may be a prerequisite before we are able to “love the world into peace”.

So in the spirit of closure, remember that the closure of one aspect opens the door to another, something new or different.  What will those doors open to? Be open and prepared for any and all possibilities, because they all exist. Exercise caution and keep your guard up where necessary and know when it’s necessary. Be open and yet be protective yourself and your own values and what’s important to you.  It’s not yet time for that breath of relief.

Is All Fair in Love and War – and In-Between?

The other day I came across an article in the Washington Post by Charles Krauthammer about Hillary Clinton’s comment of praise regarding a known tyrant of a Middle-Eastern country, President Assad of Syria. The article was about how mixed remarks about clear objectives can cause confusion within our foreign policies.  This blog of course isn’t about our foreign policies or politics. It got me to thinking about diplomacy in terms of everyday choices we make in how we interact or convey our public views and personas. Is diplomacy fairness? Is it appeasement? Is it an avoidance of confrontations? Is it a need to secure future bridges? How clear or cloudy does it become?

Being fair isn’t about pleasing all sides or not taking any.  Being fair requires us to make a judgment, albeit a favorable one.  What does this mean, to judge favorably?  It means that regardless of what you are in favor or to what you oppose, your decision has to come from a place of knowing all the parts and sum of the parts, and their effects. Being fair is acknowledging the pros and the cons, doing the simple mathematics of the pluses and the minuses, and making a judgment call based on this.  And whose view is this based on? Yours, of course.  You may gain support with some and you may not with others. Feelings may be hurt, but others have the right to exercise this responsibility too.  No it’s not a whim or a frivolous fancy, it is a responsibility.

How do you feel about the concepts of judgment, justice, fairness and mercy? In today’s world are these just merely dogmas or are they to be incorporated into our everyday lives? What do you perceive of them each in their own merit and now, how do you feel when you combine them with say, attributes of wisdom, knowledge, understanding and even loving-kindness?  How does it feel to you when you combine justice with mercy? Or judgment with wisdom? How about knowledge with kindness? How much of an investment in these would you need in order to part the layers of chaos and confusion?  How would you enlighten and educate others with your view without the attached emotions and feelings of defensiveness? How do you balance your passion with your fear of being challenged and threatened? Defensiveness, fear and the vitriol sometimes attached—these are useless emotions that serve as barriers to true wisdom, knowledge and understanding.

In your prism view, the facets are like windows into another world, or another’s world and from which other realities can stem.  You can look in and learn; you don’t always have to embrace everything about them. They offer us an expansion in dimensional views so that we can make the best choices for us and those we love with less limitation.  Remember everything is connected in some way and every action or lack of action has its own ripple effect. When you next hear someone say things like, “It’s not fair”, “It’s cruel”, “It’s wonderful”, “It’s much needed”; remember to ask to whom, whose version and from whose perspective are you making that judgment call?

While it’s true that concepts of right and wrong, good and bad are something relative to the observer, awareness of how this relativity relates to others is an important and even valuable understanding.  It always seems that when the lines become fuzzy, we cross over into confusion. When we seek to please and appease the masses, however your masses are comprised, we run the risk of clouding our core knowledge of right and wrong, and then our judgment. On the other side, when our strong beliefs are attached to fear and loss we lose sight of our pure intention. Sometimes we are the mirrors that reflect others. When we look at ourselves, what and whom else do we honestly see reflected? When you make choices based on your fairness-meter, consider what comprises your beliefs and core understanding of your subject and look into your dimensional prism to compare the ripple effects of how you decide. It really could be more than an eye-opener in a life wake-up moment.

Guest Blog: Is This What Democracy Looks Like?

By Jeff Schoener, the NLP Wordsmythe

This sounds catchy and easy to chant in public* and calls forth a single modality – Visual.   So, ‘What does democracy sound like?’ and ‘How does democracy feel?’ should be logical questions if one were to take but a moment.  In order for one to answer any of the above questions, one must understand the perspectives in which one perceives this thing called democracy.

Merriam-Webster’s definition: Democracy

  1. a form of government in which people choose leaders by voting
  2. an organization or situation in which everyone is treated equally and has equal rights

The concept is defined only with specific perceptions.

What if others would see democracy through American cowboy movies?

In October 2001, I went to Egypt.  I was quite surprised when the Egyptians who wanted to connect with me in order to separate me from my money would ask, “Where are you from?’  As it was less then one month from September 11th, I cautiously replied, “America.”  They immediately responded, “Howdy!”  At first I was surprised until I began to understand that Egyptians perception of America came directly from western movies and television shows.   John Wayne and Lone Ranger democracy consisted of an attitude, a fast gun, a fist of justice and simple talk.  The color of one’s hat would indicate just which side of the law you lived.  This was simple and shades of grey were never truly discussed.  Real governing bodies are far more complex.

As it turns out, I learned that there are many different organizational varieties of democracy.  Here are a few that I found in the web that may contain some grey areas:

  • Deliberative democracy – focuses on hearing out every policy alternative, from every direction, and providing time to research them all.
  • Multiparty democracy – two-party system requires voters to align themselves in large blocs, sometimes so large that they cannot agree on any overarching principles.
  • Totalitarian democracy – system of government in which lawfully elected representatives maintain the integrity of a nation state whose citizens, while granted the right to vote, have little or no participation in the decision-making process of the government.
  • Religious democracy – values of religion play a role in the public arena in a society populated by religious people.
  • New Democracy – Maoist concept based on Mao Tse Tung’s “Bloc of Four Classes” theory in post-revolutionary China.

Internet video sites will show parliamentary procedure from around the globe that uncannily resembles Professional Wrestling.  Please now consider how different opinions are reflected in terms of art and culture on government as well as government on culture and art.

Based upon my experience and understanding, I ask you the following:

What if others would see democracy through Soap Operas? Would you hear campaign promises belted out in a foreign language?

What if others would see democracy through Comedies? Would arguments be clever repartee or would slapstick motion prevail?

What if others would see democracy through Interpretative Dance? Urban jazz, Ballet, Soft-Shoe or Tap

What if others would see democracy through Musicals? Maybe a combination of song and dance?

What does it now look like to you?

After considering the above, I personally would have difficulty joining in on the drone of chant.  Instead images come to mind.  Imagine a subtle opening musical score.

Picture three or four overweight, out-of-shape politicians wearing large floppy shoes, purple tights and pink tutus sporting Viking helmets, holding shields singing Rodney Dangerfield’s jokes in falsetto voices.

Now, this is what democracy looks like to me.

This perspective also allows me to take an extra moment in order to think for myself before I join in.  My suggestion is that we shift from being ‘Politically Correct’ and with humor, strive to be ‘Correctly Political’.

* A Quick Note: Chanting is useful in terms of group-think.  This is an extremely useful tool for cult indoctrinations.