India is heading for a momentous election. In many ways, people are labeling it as the “mother of all elections” because this election is going to determine the path that the nation will take. And at a time like this, a small university in the U.K. has come out with a study. The study says the more stupid and ugly you look, the better the chances of getting elected. This is not my opinion – the study says so. What they are trying to say is, the more pedestrian you look, the more people will feel comfortable that you are just like one of them. If you look too sharp or intelligent, you are dismissed as aristocratic. You don’t belong to the masses. But to solve the problems of a nation, and to prevent a nation from creating problems for everyone else in the world, you need intelligence that is not pedestrian. You need intelligence that is visionary. You need intelligence that can look beyond today’s struggles, and towards tomorrow’s possibilities.
If intelligence is tangled up in today’s issues, that intelligence cannot create a better tomorrow. We need to elect the kind of people who have the needed intelligence to exploit tomorrow’s possibilities today. Not somebody who is talking about solving today’s problems, because today’s problems may not be relevant tomorrow.
Once in a way, when a society gets mired in too many problems, the masses will rise above their own mass mentality and choose someone who is not a part of them, someone who looks like a solution. But otherwise, they always prefer to choose one among them. Someone who looks too sharp, intelligent or beautiful would be an insult. Democracy comes with these problems. With democracy, mediocrity could set into the world. No sparkling genius may happen; everything may become equal. If everything becomes equal, it looks like a just society, but a tremendous injustice will happen because what human beings could create, what they could be will be destroyed. “Everyone cut down to same levels.” That is not what the fundamental process of democracy is about. But unfortunately it is being rubbed into people in that context today. That everything and everyone is equal – no. No two creatures will ever be equal. We can create equal opportunity, we cannot create equality – it is never, never possible.
It is very relevant right now because we are trying to evolve a process in the Foundation, rather than handling things on a personal level. Or in other words, we are trying to move to democracy. And the significance of democracy is – the replacement of leadership happens periodically, without much upheaval. But at the same time, the choices will be the choice of the mass. If you look at the most popular movies or music in the world, if you look at the most popular anything in the world, you can clearly see it is very mediocre. It is not of any great quality.
To make this choice more upscale, that we don’t end up with low-grade choices, we have to educate and evolve a large segment of people – whether it is in the Foundation, or in the nation, or in the world, which is not a simple task. It takes a whole lot of effort. But here at the yoga center, it is a living possibility because there is an active spiritual process. We can evolve a huge number of people to a higher level of choice, to a higher level of judgment, so that the choices that we make as a group of people will not be low-grade choices.
Democracy has become popular mainly because a history of tyrants misused their position of power and responsibility. If we had a history of very just, wonderful kings, democracy would not be popular at all. But the world has a history of tyrannical monarchs, dictators, and very cruel rulers. Because of this, we have fallen to a safer mode of governance which is democratic, but not necessarily a better form of governance. For sure it is safer, but not necessarily better, not necessarily more evolved or sophisticated.
If you are Indian by nationality, you have a tremendous responsibility coming ahead of you because the direction this nation is going will be determined in 2014. In my perception, I believe that India as sovereignty, culture, spiritual possibility and economic power has somewhere between ten to twenty years of elbowroom to turn around. After that, things may go out of control, or we could become a real vibrant, progressive nation. Both are possible. Either it becomes a vibrant possibility, or in twenty years’ time, we will end up like many other nations that are referred to with reference to certain fruits, like “banana.”
In Hindi, Banana Republic means “yet to be made.” Banaya nahi – banana hai. Forever banana is not good. For sixty-five years we have been a developing country – developing and developing and developing. That is not good. Developing should be only for a certain period. If that period stretches too long, then you become a bananaaa nation.
Let us make it happen.