In August 2015 I was at Rancho La Puerta, a retreat in the mountains of Baja California, to finish editing Enlightened Negotiation: 8 Universal Laws to Connect, Create and Prosper. I only attended a few lectures, one of which was by Jennifer Granholm, two-term governor of Michigan and her husband, Dan Mulhern, who teaches at UC Berkeley. One afternoon, as part of their lecture on politics and leadership, they took a sample poll regarding the upcoming election. Nearly thirty guests were asked to write down their prediction as to who would be the Republican nominee, the Democratic nominee, and ultimately, the President. You may recall that in August 2015, Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, and Ted Cruz were serious contenders. I wrote Hillary as the Democratic nominee and Trump as the Republican nominee and President (please stay with me and you will see why). Let me share with you that I have been active in both parties. What I am addressing here is not political activism, but rather social activism.

While the couple tallied the ballots, I noticed Dan turn to Jennifer with an amused smile and quietly say, “Someone has written Trump, hahaha!” At the end of the session I approached them and confessed that “someone” was me. I explained that I wrote Trump not as my hope, but as my concern. I shared with them that I was born in Iran and have lost my homeland; democracy and freedom mean so much to me. I noted that when Arnold Schwarzenegger ran for governor of California, guests at the Ranch would ask, “How do you feel about your potential governor?” My response to them was, “Arnold? Oh no, we are Californians–educated, open minded, progressive people; that would never happen!” Well it DID happen. Later, when Jessie Ventura ran as the governor of Minnesota, it was unthinkable, yet it became reality.

Fast forward and see the election of Rodrigo Duterte as president of the Philippines–a vulgar bully who was elected as a rebellion against corrupt politicians. We then witness Brexit, where many people knew what they did not want, but had no idea of what they wanted. It is clear that more and more people are disillusioned with the status quo. The system is broken and they want an alternative. The politicians have failed them and their fellow citizens are not listening to them. So why not risk it and go for the unknown? Anything is better than the current status!

Why this is happening? Many of my students are asking this question and seeking advice on how to properly respond as reflective, intellectual, and spiritual beings.

“Our leaders represent the consciousness of the masses,” Swami Veda said. I believe this is happening because as a society we are disconnected. As social creatures we need to connect and communicate with each other. We do not communicate with each other and when we do, it is reduced to a tweet or a sound bite. Our social and economical issues are too complex to be discussed and solved in a single sentence.

Our “communication” is replaced by “broadcasting.” Each side gets their “facts” from a broadcast company whose allegiance is to their ratings and stockholders. This makes us even more disconnected and estranged from one another. As we stop communicating with each other, we become disengaged and strangers.

listeningAs human beings we need to be heard. We need to be listened to. Where there is no communication, separation begins and trust erodes. Our society today is at its lowest level of trust since measuring began in the mid-seventies. At that time the trust level in our society was close to 70% and we were in the top ten among all the nations. Today in United States, two-thirds of the population do not trust their neighbors; internationally we rank in the bottom ten.

As it goes in our society, we have lost trust in our politicians and our government. Hence when someone rises up as an anti-establishment candidate, many see it as our only hope. Politicians have failed us so we need another refuge. This is why we see what see in the world.

When we listen poorly or not at all, we have gaps in communication that can have costly results. Communication creates connection and fosters understanding. Ralph Nichols, the founder of the International Listening Association, said “The most basic of all human needs is the need to understand people and be understood. The best way to understand people is to listen to them.”

The Law of Communication is a pillar of Enlightened Negotiation. I hope you heard me, and more importantly, I hope you listened to me. Now please let me hear you and listen to what you have to say. I promise to listen to you and understand you. To get in touch, please contact me.

11 thoughts on “Election Reflection

  1. Hear! Hear! I agree and am listening. Let’s offer to Conscious Capitalists a listening post to foster peace and encourage tolerance, temperance and fortitude. Peace be with you…

  2. Lydia

    Thanks Mehrad. Great insight and gets to the heart of Matter!

    ??

  3. Barbara Duff

    Thank you so much, Mehrad. This is the most understanding and hopeful response I have heard about the election. Hopeful in the sense that maybe there is a way out of our current societal unrest. Your perspective is greatly appreciated!

  4. Mehrad, Hi! It’s me, dick lahn. Good to read your words. You are soo thoughtful!

    I would like to meet with you sometime when you are on the east coast. Would that be possible to arrange? Would love to spend time with you discussing where we go from here and develop a plan of action. Between us we know many important people in our country. We can effect great change!

    Look forward to hearing from you.

    dick

  5. Darletta Michael

    SPOT ON! I agree with all you said here. I have supported Trump from the beginning because I did not want anyone in the establishment of Washington as president. He won, now lets all support him and give him a chance to succeed. I think he will bring this country back around!

    Thank you! I was at the Ranch in 2008 and had the pleasure of meeting you and your wife and take some sessions from you. Loved it!

  6. Bill Hughes

    Thanks for your thoughts Mehrad
    In the current climate it becomes more important than ever that each of us with a spiritual practice contribute whatever ‘good’ we can for all sentient beings.

  7. Jill

    Well said, and so true. Thanks for your wisdom and passion.

  8. Rayner Needleman

    Hello Mehrad, thank you for your wisdom…and true as it rings, I cannot help but feel anxious for so many of us. Yes, a change is needed, but with Trump leading the way I fail to see how such an insensitive and self-serving individual is actually going to pay attention to the needs of others…

  9. Anne Joseph

    A very interesting discourse. Thank you Mehrad, for your perspective.

  10. Grateful for your, experience, leadership and wisdom. Remember to remember to listen. Always good advice for me. Any wisdom to share about Standing Rock?

  11. Maria D. Bolivar

    Nice and thoughtful piece. My hope? We need some kindness. A kind world, a thoughtful neighbor, a strong heart.

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