Sunday, January 6, 2008

Deconstructing Obama In Iowa

This last week the media was buzzing with the results of Iowa caucuses. Ten months earlier, Rory Steele, a 29 year old former marine, had arrived in the state. He was a man on a mission, sent there to organize the Barack Obama campaign in 21 counties. He did whatever it took. No job was too big nor too small for him. Steele, a friendly guy who can talk with anyone, says, “We don’t give up on people.” On January 3rd his efforts paid off. A New York Times article from back on Nov 26th , entitled In West Iowa, Obama’s Man Thinks Locally
reveals how Steele helped organize and lay the foundation that culminated in Obama’s Iowa victory.

Actually, the metaphor of a political campaign, in its excitement and competitiveness, seems appropriate to Krishna Consciousness. Devotees want to inject the awareness and teachings of Krishna into the hearts and minds of the “voters.” This brief article is a whole mini-course in itself. It glimpses Steele’s methodology and is chock full of important lessons that can be applied both within the Krishna movement as well as for interacting with the general public. The points below emerge as the article unfolds:

1) Think like a local - anticipate, understand and address people’s needs and concerns
2) Build networks based on person to person contact
3) Listen to people to get their advice and feedback
4) Be a problem solver but depend upon Krishna (Steele admits there are things and situations beyond his control - “I can only control what I can control, or I’d spend all day freaking out.”)
5) Focus on your work at hand
6) Delegate responsibility – empower others
7) Inspire people by your words and actions
8) Acknowledge people’s efforts and contributions
9) Thoroughly know your Candidate’s philosophy
10) Don’t speak ill of people (you might need their help in the future)
11) Pay attention to community movers and leaders who can help get others involved (warning: this does not imply that those who don’t appear to be “leaders” should be ignored)
12) Take notes and be sure to follow up

In this way, a devotee can humbly work for his Candidate. As Srila Prabhupada explains in the purport of the verse below – “ A Krishna Conscious person acts out of pure love for the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and therefore he has no attraction for the results of the action.”

“Abandoning all attachment to the results of his activities, ever satisfied and independent, he performs no fruitive action, although engaged in all kinds of undertakings.” Gita 4:20