Monday, November 17, 2008

Rahm at the helm: would "reaching-out" become one-sided?

When I was young, my father used to take me to our neighborhood Hindu temple for Friday evening poojas and bhajans. During these occasions I also have been sourced, unknowingly, to be a lead of these bhajans. Although the position gave me opportunity to score points with adolescent crushes, things changed over the years and fortunately my voice became horsy around thirteen, that the temple trustees got fed up and went to find a female lead singer.

Hindu temples, as many of you know, have an abundance of Gods, who's been tasked to, by us, to perform various duties at various stages of our lives. Their jobs are in essence to produce, bless, guard, educate, shower us with wealth and occasionally destroy the evils within and around us. Hinduism is also an 'affirmative action compliant' and 'equal opportunity' religion, that we have men and women Gods and even cross-sexed (Arthanareeswarar), physically challenged 'little people' (Bhairavar) and also with animal faces or bodily features.

The catch is, by design of the temples and also based on mythology, that to get to the altar of the God, a dimly lighted room where the main statue is affixed, you have to have several qualifications, not all at once, but few at least. The default settings or the privilege to enter an altar, is that you have to be born into the Brahmin caste however, not necessarily as a priest. The Brahmins can enter the temple's altar provided they are clean and pure based on certain 'Vedic' conditions. While the Hindu Gods are equal-opportunity beneficiaries, the women of Brahmins aren't allowed to enter the altar and that 'that' subject will be discussed on another day since today's subject is not about women's rights.

If you're not a Brahmin, then you have to seek virtual permission from the 'Vahanam' - an animal versioned guard that either sits in front of the God, beside or under him. Seeking of virtual permissions are similar to the long prayers and bhajans that I have been, involuntarily, asked to lead. We sing hymns with our hearts-out so that these 'Vahanams' - whom are considered guardians of God's activities - will hear us and render schedule to meet the almighty in good terms so we can negotiate for blessings, benefits and eternal, warless life. All virtually of course!

In other words, this 'Vahanam' can be compared to a chief-of-staff, who guards, grants or keep unwanted people at bay from interfering with the almighty's grand objectives.

But, what if the 'Vahanam' him/her or itself has it's own opinions and little biased background that even if the God wants to 'change the world' that he can't implement his 'yes we can' attitude as straight as once he promised?

Dear readers, welcome to the new White House, where the next president, who generally considered to have God's powers (hint: the "football"), of at least for next four years, going to reside and guarded by a 'Vahanam' who could potentially limit the 'reaching out' policies propagated during the campaign.

Mr. Rahm Emmanuel, congressman of the Illinois' 5th congressional district, and the chief-of-staff of the new white house, is a known commodity to have biased and tempered attitude. A trained ballet dancer, Rahm was born to Israeli parents - his father served in the secret militant group Irgun during Israel/ Palestine partition - and grew up with strong Jewish cultural and political views and also served in the Israeli army as a volunteer techie. He was a key advisor to the president during the Clinton era and had been known to say "don't fxxk it up" to then British prime minister Tony Blair, during the Monika Lewinsky crisis, before a speech to the press at the White house.

Although Rahm is a Chicago pal of the Obamas, he wasn't necessarily part of Obama's policy-maker team during the presidential campaign. And there's no proof that Rahm had or would act against Obama's promised policies as his C.O.S.

So what's the issue?

We all know the U.S.A. is extremely pro-Israeli, for the purposes of it's own interests and to maintain power in the Middle-eastern region. There's nothing wrong with guarding a nation's interest, in any which way one can. Therefore, the Unites States' such policy is not going to change in the foreseeable future. However, Mr. Obama, during the campaign, promised(?) that he would reach-out to Iran, an ardent enemy of Israel, the axis of evils and the likes to sit down, talk and mend differences to bring peace to the world that presently dislikes America as an arrogant, unfriendly power. Mr. Obama's statements also putting welcoming thoughts in many freedom fighting movements (ex: LTTE) that are presently considered terrorists due to situational policies of the world. Please mind that even Nelson Mandela and PLO leader late Yasser Arafat were declared terrorist at one point of history then were garlanded happily at the White House as nation builders.

I'm not sure appointing a pro-Israeli 'Vahanam' at the gates of the Oval offices could achieve positives in potential dialogue with unfriendly countries or entities. The C.O.S. could technically block or dissuade any attempts of traffic either way and influence his own opinion on issues, just as we know, based on historical 'alpha male' behavior of Mr. Emmanuel. Although this is highly speculative and my own opinion, he could become the main hindrance of this 'reaching out' policy.

Would you say; time will tell? It may, but if I'm Mr. Obama, I wouldn't take such a risk that could railroad my promises. Or, may be he has knowingly taken this decision so that to keep people at bay and continue past eight years' unilateral policies..?!

On a historical note, the biggest Bull-shaped 'vahanam' ever built, can be found at the Thanjavur Brihatheeswarar Temple in Tamil Nadu, India. A U.N. heritage site, the temple was built by King Raja Raja Cholan of the Chola regime, some 2000 plus years ago.


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