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Review: Future Quest: Building an Awesome World Future (Satis Shroff)

Sedlmayer, Albert, Future Quest 2012 Aurora House, Sydney, Australia

ISBN 978 0987304032, 488 pages, Paperback

futurequest:building an awesome world future now

Can you write about world peace and how to change the world? There have been politicians who’ve had a vision or a dream of a change in the society and set about achieving their goals. The author Albert Sedlmayer mentions that his Dad was a natural problem solver. ‘Genetic predisposition,eh?’ you might ask.

 

He was his mentor and intrigued him with how he’d study a problem, walk away; then come back with a solution and a broad grin.He passed that ability to his son. In the Forward Martin van Kalmthout, a prof from Netherlands, mentions the importance of the human factor involved in decision-making at different levels, and their interrelationship. The author supports the assumption that all endeavours to promote world peace should start at the psychological level. Depending on the integrity of the person or persons involved.

 

In the case of the Crimean crisis, Putin is an ex-KGB man and the President of Russia. President Obama cuts a better figure with his academic credentials. World change can be achieved on an individul scale, when the individual is ready to change within, says Sedlmayer. World change is individual change. That brings us to the state.

 

What is a state law? A decision made by a group of people who have the same thought is turned into a law in print. It’s the human factor that links many The written world rules over citizens throughout the world. All this preceded by the thoughts of individuals who wanted to form a decision. It’s the human factor that links many disciplines and lines of thought together.

 

This book gives practical tips to help the reader avoid being bogged down with theoretical discussions. A valuable book, a book worth its money, for those who are concerned with decision-making about the future of mankind. The author has a deep, empathic insight which has enabled him to write Future Quest, a book that provides supportive arguments that a great, sustainable world-future is achievable through the implementation ofthink-alike mentors as multiplicators. Sedlmayer has a good idea, so why not help spread it?

 

Sedlmayer also says: if people avoid you, why, you’ve overdone it. He mentions that ethical philosophy should be compulsory in the curriculums of schoolkids or you should teach your child yourself, after the principle: what you do is more important than what you say. If you’ve made a mistake? Apologise. That’s exactly what Dale Carnegie also says in his book ‘How to Win Friends and Influence People.’ The church has been preaching this but some bishops remain adamant, for instance van Teberts in Bavaria. Are you involved in a confrontation? Be diplomatic and humble. Whether this will really help as in the case of the Crimean conflict is another matter. But a policy of deescalation does get better results than sabre-rattling.

 

Sedlmayer urges you to become a mentor by keeping good company and being a role-model (Vorbildfunktion) and says what you do is do is important, especially when you have young people looking up to you. That’s general psychology and common sense, you might retort. Dale Carnegie devotes a chaptergeyou

on ‘give a dog a good name’ and treat ex-jailbirds as humans, with respect and they’ll take up the challenge and behave well. Likewise mentors should admit their mistakes for they are humans and thus fallible. Much like Carnegie, he says self-disclosure is a gesture of good will and confidence. It works wonders and disarms the other person and leads to a good, hearts relationships and cooperations in life with other human beings.

 

In a chapter on Orientation he writes about the dream, just what is reality anyway? He defines the task at hand and talks about thinking in circles, cycles and spirals. The entire book has a navy architecht’s stategic approach. He designs the structure and shows the steps to attain it. Then he moves to Man, the individual and the threats to his existence, coexistence, talks about the sanctity and value of friendship, values, consolidating your values and not your valuables, emotions, perceptions and core identity. Sedlmayer moves on to cultures, countries, collectives, and arrives at groups, and speaks of colonisation in today’s context. War and peace, national identity, protection—all play a big role. He explains the three R’s: reading, writing, arithmetic and adds responsibility to it. And hoovers around mentorship, devoting a section to humanity. As you can see, a many faceted opus magnum.

 

I remember that a NY socialite and novelist of Indian descent named Bharati Mukerjee, who has on an academic visit to Freiburg (Germany) asked me, ‘How does it feel to be a writer and poet in Germany? How do you get along with the Teutons?’ In Albert Sedlmayer’s case it was difficult as the son of a pair of World War II survivors who had to endure ‘defeated foe-taunts’ as German immigrants in Down Under at the hand of the Aussies. He describes it as a brutal era as a kid and vainly expresses his hope that somebody’d fix it someday. But as he grew up in Adelaide, he realised that conflicts were an everyday issue throughout the world; it developed into a life-long questioning interest on how they could be resolved. As a man with experience in counseling, he sat down to write this book to ‘fix the brutality’ in this world, as he puts it. He quotes Margaret Mead, the cultural anthropologist, aptly: ‘Never underestimate the power of a few committed people to change the world, it is the only thing that ever has.’

 

Albert Sedmayer was born in war-ravaged Germany in 1946 and went to Australia with his family when he was six.

 

This non-fiction book reads like a first-person narrative on the future of mankind and shows the way with practical tips that help you when you’re dissatisfied with theoretical arguments in the fields of psychology, philosophy, business, law, finance, management, politics and democracy, all linked together by the human factor. The book has an impressive bibliography with 342 books and papers on diverse themes that culminate in his postulation that peaceful, sustainable humanity is possible. He shows you how you can participate in attaining the goals set in FutureQuest wherever and whoever you are ‘without compromising your identity or your religious or ideological convictions (sic).’

 

The author quotes Sir Francis Bacon’s ‘Knowledge is power’ (Wissen ist Macht) and emphasises the importance of communication, explaining it in terms of electricity. If communication is weak, power can’t flow between person to person and nation to nation. On the chapter on Communication he cites Martin Luther King, Jr:

 

‘People don’t get along because they fear each other,

People fear each other because they don’t know each other,

They don’t know each other because they have not properly

communicated with each other.’

 

The chapter on Information Technology explains how easy and cheap the internet has become and even India’s farmers can negotiate a fair price through the use of mobile phones by enabling direct links with the consumers.

 

The fact that the author spent life-periods immersed in the diverse cultures and attitudes of different countries has led him to attain a high level of intercultural competence, and the ability to solve complex and difficult problems. He has a good insight towards humanity, and is of the opinion that a great, sustainable world future is available. He has used information-age-power in writing FutureQuest after years of soul and data searching.

 

With wars and military conflicts, communal hatred erupting around the globe, and the climate change discussions, Sedlmayer’s book is like a lighthouse in a stormy sea warning the ships to keep off the treacherous cliffs. His idea is to start tentatively a Goodwill Register within the Un framework, akin to the UN Global Compact, with the possibility of adding new registered, charitable, non-prophet and non-profit organisation, possibly with the blessing of the UNO. All members ‘will periodically be peer-audited to maintain membership, an attempt to keep out the black sheep. What the author offers is a ‘cheaper and easy to administer’ version of the UN Global Compact. Savvy membership?

 

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(c) Art & Nepali poem by satisshroff

The way was long, the wind cold

The minstrel was infirm and old;

His withered cheek and tresses grey

Seemed to have known a better day

(Sir Walter Scott in ‘The Lay of the Last Minstrel’)

Gainey: A Minstrel’s Songs of Love and Sorrow (Satis Shroff)

Go away, you maya.

Disappear.

Haunt me not

In my dreams.

What has become of my country?

My grandpa said:

“In Nepal even a child

Can walk the countryside alone.”

It’s just not true,

Not for a Nepalese,

Born with a sarangi in his hand.

I’m a musician,

One of the lower caste

In the Hindu hierarchy.

I bring delight to my listeners,

Hope to touch the hearts

Of my spectators.

I sing about love,

Hate and evil,

Kings and Queens,

Princes and Princesses,

The poor and the rich,

And the fight for existence,

In the craggy foothills

And the towering heights

Of the Himalayas.

The Abode of the Snows,

Where Buddhist and Hindu

Gods and Goddesses reside,

And look over mankind

And his folly.

I was born in Tanhau,

A nondescript hamlet in Nepal,

Were it not for Bhanu Bhakta Acharya

Who was born here,

The poet who translated the Ramayana,

From high-flown Sanskrit into simple Nepali

For all to read.

I remember the first day

My father handed me a sarangi.

He taught me how to hold and swing the bow.

I was delighted with the first squeaks it made,

As I moved the bow on the taught horsetail strings.

It was as though my small sarangi

Was talking with me.

I was so happy,

I and my sarangi,

My sarangi and me.

Tears of joy ran down my cheeks.

I was so thankful.

I touched my Papa’s feet,

As is the custom in the Himalayas.

I could embrace the whole world.

I remember my Papa saying to me:

‘My son, it was God Shiva

Who taught us humans music.

God Krishna plays the lute,

His Gopinis listen to him full of rapture.

Saraswati is always depicted with the sitar.

So you see, my son,

It was the Gods who taught us music.

You only have to listen

To Nature in the wee morning hours

Or at night,

You will hear glorious melodies

That you capture with your sarangi.

Your instrument becomes

The voice of Prakriti.

My father taught me the tones,

And the songs to go with them,

For we, gaineys, are minstrels

Who wander from place to place,

Like gypsies,

Like butterflies in Spring.

We are a restless folk

To be seen everywhere,

Where people dwell,

For we live from their charity

And our trade.

The voice of the gainey,

The sad melody of the sarangi.

A boon to those who love the lyrics,

A nuisance to those who hate it.

Many a time, we’ve been kicked and beaten

By young people who prefer canned music,

From their ghetto-blasters.

Outlandish melodies,

Electronic beats you can’t catch up with.

Spinning on their heads,

Hip-hopping like robots,

Not humans.

It’s the techno, ecstasy generation

Where have all the old melodies gone?

The Nepalese folksongs of yore?

The song of the Gainey?

“This is globanisation,” they told me.

The grey-eyed visitors from abroad,

‘Quirays’ as we call them in Nepal.

Or ‘gora-sahibs’ in Hindustan.

The quirays took countless pictures of me,

With their cameras,

Gave handsome tips.

A grey-haired didi with spectacles,

And teeth in like a horse’s mouth,

Even gave me a polaroid-picture

Of me,

With my sarangi,

My mountain violin.

Sometimes I look at my fading picture

And wonder how fast time flows.

My smile is disappearing,

Grey hair at the sides,

The beginning of baldness.

I’ve lost a lot of my molars,

At the hands of the Barbier

From Muzzafapur in the Indian plains.

He gave me clove oil

To ease my pain,

As he pulled out my fouled teeth,

In an open-air salon,

Right near the Tribhuvan Highway.

I still have my voice

And my sarangi,

And love to sing my repertoire,

Even though many people

Sneer and jeer at me,

And prefer Bollywood texts

From my larynx.

To please their whims,

I learned even Bollywood songs,

Against my will,

Eavesdropping behind cinema curtains,

To please the tourists

And my country’s modern youth,

I even learned some English songs.

Oh money, dear money.

I’ve become a cultural prostitute.

I’ve done my Zunft, my trade,

An injustice,

But I did it to survive.

I had to integrate myself

And to assimilate

In my changing society.

Time has not stood still

Under the shadow of the Himalayas.

One day when I was much younger,

I was resting under a Pipal tree

When I saw one beautiful tourist girl.

I looked and smiled at her.

She caressed her hair,

And smiled back.

For me it was love at first sight.

All the while gazing at her

I took out my small sarangi,

With bells on my fiddle bow

And played a sad Nepali melody

Composed by Ambar Gurung,

Which I’d learned in my wanderings

From Ilam to Darjeeling.

I am the Sky

You are the Soil,

Even though we yearn

A thousand times,

We cannot be together.

I was sentimental that moment.

Had tears in my eyes

When I finished my song.’

The blonde woman sauntered up to me,

And said in a smooth voice,

‘Thank you for the lovely song.

Can you tell me what it means?’

I felt a lump on my throat

And couldn’t speak

For a while.

Then, with a sigh, I said,

‘We have this caste system in Nepal.

When I first saw you,

I imagined you were a fair bahun girl.

We aren’t allowed to fall in love

With bahunis.

It is a forbidden love,

A love that can never come true.

I love you

But I can’t have you.’

‘But you haven’t even tried,’

Said the blonde girl coyly.

‘I like your golden hair,

Your blue eyes.

It’s like watching the sky.’

‘Oh, thank you,

Danyabad.

She asked: ‘But why do you say:

‘We cannot be together?’

‘We are together now,’ I replied,

‘But the society does not like

Us gaineys from the lower caste.

The bahuns, chettris castes are above us.

They look down upon us.’

‘Why do they do that?’

Asked the blonde girl.

I spat out:

‘Because they are high-born.

We, kamis, damais and sarkis, are dalits.

We are the downtrodden,

The underdogs of this society

In the foothills of the Himalayas.’

‘Who made you what you are?’ she asked.

I told her: ‘The Hindu society is formed this way:

Once upon a time there was a bahun,

And from him came the Varnas.

The Vernas are a division of society

Into four parts.

Brahma created the bahuns

From his mouth.

The chettris who are warriors

Came from his shoulder,

The traders from his thigh

And the servants

From the sole of his feet.’

‘What about the poor dalits?’

Quipped the blonde foreigner.

‘The dalits fell deeper in the Hindu society,

And were not regarded as full members

Of the human race.

We had to do the errands and menial jobs

That were forbidden for the higher castes.’

‘Like what?’ she asked.

‘Like disposing dead animals,

Making leather by skinning hides

Of dead animals,

Cleaning toilets and latrines,

Clearing the sewage canals of the rich,

High born Hindus.

I am not allowed to touch a bahun,

Even with my shadow, you know.’

‘What a mean, ugly system,’ she commented,

And shook her head.

‘May I touch you?’ she asked impulsively.

She was daring and wanted to see how I’d react.

‘You may,’ I replied.

She touched my hand,

Then my cheeks with her two hands.

I found it pleasant and a great honour.

I joined my hands and said sincerely,

‘Dhanyabad.’

I, a dalit, a no-name, a no-human,

Had been touched by a young, beautiful woman,

A kuiray tourist,

From across the Black Waters:

Kalapani.

A wave of happiness and joy

Swept over me.

A miracle had happened.

Like a princess kissing a toad,

In fairy tales I’d heard.

Perhaps Gandhi was right:

I was a Child of God,

A Harijan,

And this fair lady an apsara.

She, in her European mind,

Thought she’d brought human rights

At least to the gainey,

This wonderful wandering minstrel,

With his quaint fiddle

Called sarangi.

She said in her melodious voice,

‘In my country all people are free and equal,

Have the same rights and dignity.

All humans have common sense,

A conscience,

And we ought to meet each other

As brothers and sisters.

I tucked my sarangi in my armpit,

Clapped my hands and said:

‘That’s nice.

Noble thoughts.

It works for you here, perhaps.

But it won’t work for me,’

Feeling a sense of remorse and nausea

Sweep over me.

* * *

About the Author:

Satis Shroff teaches Creative Writing at the University of Freiburg, and is the published author of three books on www.Lulu.com: Im Schatten des Himalaya (book of poems in German), Through Nepalese Eyes (travelgue), Katmandu, Katmandu (poetry and prose anthology by Nepalese authors, edited by Satis Shroff). His lyrical works have been published in literary poetry sites: Slow Trains, International Zeitschrift, World Poetry Society (WPS), New Writing North, Muses Review, The Megaphone, Pen Himalaya, Interpoetry. Satis Shroff is a member of “Writers of Peace,” poets, essayists, novelists (PEN), World Poetry Society (WPS) and The Asian Writer. He also writes on ecological, ethno-medical, culture-ethnological themes. He has studied Zoology and Botany  in Nepal, Medicine and Social Sciences in Germany and Creative Writing in Freiburg and the United Kingdom. He describes himself as a mediator between western and eastern cultures and sees his future as a writer and poet. Since literature is one of the most important means of cross-cultural learning, he is dedicated to promoting and creating awareness for Creative Writing and transcultural togetherness in his writings, and in preserving an attitude of Miteinander in this world. He lectures in Basle (Switzerland) and in Germany at the Akademie für medizinische Berufe (University Klinikum Freiburg) and the Zentrum für Schlüsselqualifikationen (Lehrbeauftragter für Creative Writing, Albert Ludwigs Universität Freiburg). Satis Shroff was awarded the German Academic Exchange Prize.

What others have said about the author:

“I was extremely delighted with Satis Shroff’s work. Many people write poetry for years and never obtain the level of artistry that is present in his work. He is an elite poet with an undying passion for poetry.” Nigel Hillary, Publisher, Poetry Division – Noble House U.K.

Satis Shroff  writes with intelligence, wit and grace. (Bruce Dobler, Associate Professor in Creative Writing MFA, University of Iowa).

‘Satis Shroff writes political poetry, about the war in Nepal, the sad fate of the Nepalese people, the emergence of neo-fascism in Germany. His bicultural perspective makes his poems rich, full of awe and at the same time heartbreakingly sad. I writing ‘home,’ he not only returns to his country of origin time and again, he also carries the fate of his people to readers in the West, and his task of writing thus is also a very important one in political terms. His true gift is to invent Nepalese metaphors and make them accessible to the West through his poetry.’ (Sandra Sigel, Writer, Germany).

Brilliant, I enjoyed your poems thoroughly. I can hear the underlying German and Nepali thoughts within your English language. The strictness of the German form mixed with the vividness of your Nepalese mother tongue. An interesting mix. Nepal is a jewel on the Earth’s surface, her majesty and charm should be protected, and yet exposed with dignity through words. You do your country justice and I find your bicultural understanding so unique and a marvel to read.’ Reviewed by Heide Poudel in WritersDen.com 6/4/2007.

‘The manner in which Satis Shroff writes takes the reader right along with him. Extremely vivid and just enough and the irony of the music. Beautiful prosaic thought and astounding writing.
Your muscles flex, the nerves flatter, the heart gallops,
As you feel how puny you are,
Among all those incessant and powerful waves.’

“Satis Shroff’s writing is refined – pure undistilled.” (Susan Marie, www.Gather.com

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