Friday, November 2, 2012

Yoga in the Dragon's Den endorses Barack Obama!

And I'm doing this even though, not being a citizen of these United States, I can't vote in this election... Actually, that's not correct: My inability to personally vote is all the more reason why I should mobilize the modest rallying power of this modest soapbox to get as many votes for Obama as possible.

[Image taken from here]

Why Obama? There's a lot I can say here (although in my opinion, the unpleasant alternative--Mitt Romney--should be reason enough), but I'm just going to quote Matthew Remski's platform in a recent article on Elephant Journal, which I wholeheartedly agree with:

"– Given that Mitt Romney’s discernible platform stands to set socio-economic justice, women’s rights, ecological stewardship, scientific research and foreign relations back by several generations, and
– Given that much more of his platform is actually indiscernible due to his pathological lying and opportunism, and
– Given that he is an ordained operative in an exclusionary religious institution rife with the anti-rationalism, anti-environmentalism, and magical thinking that is anathema to the culture of yogic inquiry:
– Incumbent President Obama remains the better and at least known choice, and should be passionately supported by yoga practitioners.

Simple, no? Anyone disagree? I know: I apologize to third-party advocates. Obama is not a perfect choice, given his mediocre record on human rights, upholding international law, and environmental progress. But the immediate legislative impact of a Romney administration is a far heavier price to pay than the ground we lose in reshaping the electoral landscape. Remember Nader, 2000, Florida. It’s not worth it."

I was planning on keeping this post short, but now I can't resist saying more myself. So I'll say a few more things here. If you think it's somehow unyogic to brazenly support a political candidate and espouse a political position on a yoga blog, try asking yourself these questions: 

(1) How yogic is it to stand by and say and do nothing while somebody who is a card-carrying member of a religion (Mormonism) that has a very poor track record on women's rights (to put it mildly) stands at least a fair chance of becoming the leader of what is arguably (at least at this moment) the richest and most powerful country in the world, and who will, if elected, have much more executive power to put his retrogressive views about women in place?

(2) How yogic is it to stand by and say and do nothing while some spineless flip-flopper continues to flip-flop his way to, God forbid, the highest poltiical office in this land? Sadly, if the polls are any indication, it appears that close to half the country (maybe even more) actually believe in his flip-flopping ways. Can an opportunistic flip-flopper be allowed to take the highest office in this country? 

Or, if you still don't see what I'm saying, recall this phrase of the Ashtanga closing prayer: "May the leaders of the Earth protect in every way by keeping to the right path." 

Can we trust a spineless opportunistic flip-flopper to be able to "protect in every way by keeping to the right path"? Think about this.

(3) How yogic is it to stand by and say and do nothing while a plutocrat who advocates more tax breaks for the rich and more trickle-down economics--the kind of economics that got this country into the deepest recession since the Great Depression--stands at least a fair chance of attaining the highest political office in this land and putting these policies into place; policies that can only make the rich richer and the poor poorer, making it easier for those who already have much to continue to violate aparigraha (non-grasping) and asteya (non-stealing)?     
As Remski points out above, Obama is far from being a perfect leader. But he easily beats Romney by a thousand miles (probably more...). And besides, it takes guts to be able to start doing his job at the time he did four years ago, when hope was in short supply, and the economy seemed like it was in perpetual freefall. Well, we're not out of the woods yet, but I'm confident that if we at least stay the course (and not regress to trickle-down economics), things can only get better. But I won't say any more here; economics is not my cup of tea. 

Last but not least, I have something to say in response to a question Remski poses at the beginning of his article. Remski asks:

My question to the yoga community at large is: why have we not seen a single prominent teacher or yoga organization formally and publicly endorse the Obama-Biden ticket? Do we not want to get our hands too dirty? Are we too busy pretending It’s All Good? Are we even a community at all? 

Well, Matthew (if I may), there is at least one prominent teacher who has been formally and passionately endorsing Obama for the last few months: Kino MacGregor. Check out her Facebook page. Ha! I guess this means I'm endorsing Kino too; glad to be of service :-) But then again, Kino is not running for any political office...  


  1. Yes, Kudos to Kino! Who knows, maybe someday she'll end up elected as the first female president!

    1. Yes, the first female president, who also happens to be the first president to be able to put her legs behind her head (unless, of course, Obama is secretly able to do that, which would give us one more reason to vote for him :-)).

  2. The Mangala Mantra in action, good for you!

  3. i have to call bullshit here. let's be clear. i wouldn't piss on mitt romney if he were on fire, but he sucks for more than enough reasons besides his faith which may be unpalatable to you. if we take the high road and leave candidates' religion out of it, it's more likely that our opponents will do the same for us. besides, indian culture, it must be mentioned, is not noted for being at the vanguard of womens' rights, so i feel it's a tad hypocritical for us, as yoga practitioners, to condemn romney for his religious views. all the other beefs with him, i agree whole-heartedly.

    1. Thanks for calling bullshit on this, Patrick. But I think I'm going to have to call bullshit on your calling bullshit. Here's why. Whether or not our own individual cultures have a good track record on women's rights, the fact is that we are not running for president, while he is. Furthermore, as you know, he is an ordained operative in his religion; this being the case, it would be rather naive to suppose that the views and practices of his religion concerning women's rights will not affect what he will do as president, if elected.

      I'm actually a bit mystified by your remarks about Indian culture. You write,

      "indian culture, it must be mentioned, is not noted for being at the vanguard of womens' rights, so i feel it's a tad hypocritical for us, as yoga practitioners, to condemn romney for his religious views."

      Am I supposed to identify myself as a member of the Indian culture just because I practice Ashtanga Yoga? I'm quite sure I don't identify with Indian culture, even though I do find some aspects of it to be beautiful (not the part about womens' rights, though...).

      And btw, I'm not condemning Romney for his religious views. He can believe whatever he wants; I just don't think his professed religious views make him a good candidate to lead this country at this time.

    2. i have a few questions: if you think that romney's religious views prevent him from making him a good (although i suspect you mean acceptable) candidate to lead this country, how is that not a condemnation of both him and his religion? and if his religious views aren't acceptable, whose are? is there not a slippery slope here? is there a way to hold his views on women as unacceptable and keep that divorced from the LDS church?

      i guess i'm just very wary of any form of religious intolerance. you or i may not be running for office, but it may come to pass that an actual hindu may run for president at some point. it is a day to which i look forward. or perhaps a muslim candidate will be nominated. suppose these candidates have views more in line with our own (i'm assuming that we're both pretty left-leaning). i wouldn't want the womens' rights track records of either of their religions brought in as well.

    3. Actually, if a practicing Muslim or Hindu (or practicing whatever) were to run for president, I *would* want the womens' right records of their religions to be brought into the public view. In fact, I would want for there to be an extensive public scrutiny of their religions' track records, not just on womens' rights, but also on gay rights, their views on immigrants (because I'm one :-)), and a whole bunch of other issues. And I think there should also be an extensive public scrutiny of just how deeply the candidate in question embraces these particular religious beliefs. It's not always easy to determine this, but I think it's possible to get a pretty good picture if we look and dig hard enough.

      And then at the end of the day, we/the public can decide how and whether their personal religious views will shape their performance as president.

      Maybe you think this is a bit intrusive, but I think it's necessary. As the highest-ranking executive official in this country, the president wields considerable power in the public realm. As such, we need to be sure that his or her views (and the actions and policies they inform) will be in line with the requirements of public reason in a pluralistic society like ours. If this comes across as being intrusive on his or her personal privacy, well... isn't this the price one must pay to run for public office?

    4. let us agree to disagree, and let me extend an invitation to come practice with us in miami. and finally, a parting thought from guruji himself: "you let god take care of world, you take care your anus."

    5. I try to take care of my anus everyday, including inhaling through it as much as possible:

      I hope to get my ass over to Miami to meet and practice with you and Kino and Tim in the not-too-distant future :-)


  5. Score! Sorry I was raised as a surrogate son to a father who loved futbol and the bullfights..

    1. Hey, I know nothing about bullfights, but I also love futbol :-)

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