This lunch salon, the third in a series, came out of informal discussions about the importance of yoga in society while taking yoga classes at the Sri Ved Niketan Ashram in Rishikesh, India in May 2002. Participants were chosen for their broad outlooks and for the variety of thought and experience they could bring to the table. The larger concept of the salon is to create an intimate experience for all participants, breaking down the machinal wall of the internet to allow participants to engage with readers dining along at home or at work in front of their computer screens. Next salon will be filmed and will focus on another broad provocative topic providing meal time fodder for all.
May 4, 2002
12:30 - 2:00 p.m.
Dolphin Nook Restaurant
(next to Sri Ved Niketan Ashram)
food and drink:
lemon soda (soda water with lime)
Ritu Agarwal, a confused twenty-three year old hoping to become unconfused through the yogic path. She is a first generation American, parents emigrated from India, who has a strong interest in societal issues and consequently studied political science and public policy in the US. She is currently exploring issues concerning the interaction of people and communities through yoga and meditation, and hopes to be able to use this knowledge in the formation of policy, for the self and the State.
Amy Berk is a visual artist, writer and educator and one of the founding members of the stretcher editorial team. She moved from New York to California ten years ago to attend graduate school and has never looked back. Besides Stretcher, she runs an after school program for inner-city kids, teaching them about art and jobs as well as life, attempting to empower kids who seep through the cracks of the system. Amy also teaches at the university level and writes for a number of art publications. She is a yoga devotee, practicing for over ten years, seriously for the last four.
Andy Cox is a dual national (Britain and the USA). As well as art, his background is in civil engineering. He spent several years living in Nepal working on water projects. This year he is exploring the world with Amy Berk, currently working on his half lotus here in Rishikesh. In 1996 he founded the guerrilla art collective Together We Can Defeat Capitalism to "raise questions about capitalism and have some fun, too." He has recently been in trouble with Citigroup for citibank-global-domination.com devised in collaboration with the Rain Forest Action Network.
Laurent Hugelit studied philosophy and art at the University of Neuchatel in Switzerland. After 4 years of studies he started practicing Hatha-Yoga and meditation. Also at that time, he went to Mexico to work as a neutral human-rights observer in a village in the Chiapas conflict. This experience and his practice of Yoga made him stop studying and become a pizza delivery boy, which gave him enough freedom and time to focus on his practice. Before coming to India, Laurent was the owner of a tea and incense shop which he created with two friends. As it was becoming quite famous he decided to leave it to take enough time and space to switch to a life as a full-time yoga and meditation teacher.
Hermelinda Plata is a civil engineer from Colombia. She received her Master's at the University of Illinois in the U.S. working with water quality issues in order to combat sanitary problems in poor communities in Colombia. She then questioned her career path, eschewing her American friends obsession with getting a great apartment and car and chose to travel instead, to widen her world view and meet people interested in the same things as she. Current plans include returning to Columbia and setting up a socially based project, but that may change along the way.
Surinder Singh, originally from the Punjab, currently lives in Rishikesh where he is a mechanical engineer as well as a yoga teacher. He has taught at Sri Ved Niketan for five years. He has studied with Swami Dharmanendaji and wants to switch over to a yoga life full time. He believes that yoga teaches us how to live in the right way in order to reduce pain, suffering and injustice and that it is an integrated system of the body, the breath, food and digestion, behavior, personality, etc that develops enhanced awareness of body, mind and soul.
Amy Berk: First off, thank you all for coming. The first thing that I would like us all to address is how we all came to Rishikesh. I will start. Andy and I are in the middle of a long trip. We have been travelling for almost a year, starting in New Zealand (see dinner salon #2 for more info) for an artist's residency and that was the impetus for us to give up our lives in San Francisco. We decided to take a year to travel and explore and figure out what to do next , to see what else is out there-- maybe that is why people come to Rishikesh? (but I don't want to put words into anybody's mouth). I for one have always wanted to come to India and I was very interested in deepening my yoga practice.
Andy Cox: One thing is, we (Amy and I) don't really like travelling continuously, we like to stop for a month or two somewhere. It's very tiring travelling and dealing with new sensory inputs that you have to process all the time, so spending time in this contemplative environment sounded like a good idea, and one that I hadn't thought too much about. I've done yoga on and off for 5 years and haven't committed to it, so the yoga was secondary in a way but since being here and actually doing it, I've sort of realized that that has been a very important part of coming here and getting an insight into the other side of yoga. When you do yoga in the States, it tends to be more physical, a lot of it is like aerobics, which is fine but having the other side (meditation) and learning more about that side has been very good.
Laurent Hugelit: I arrived in Delhi at 4 o'clock Thursday morning and at 6 o'clock I was practicing yoga here. I came straight to Rishikesh. I came to India to come to Rishikesh. I've always wanted to come to India, but I wanted to be ready and not have illusions or be stereotypical about what I would find here. So I have been travelling for the last few years, I went to South America and to Africa to learn to travel, because travel for me is an art. Then I decided to stop working - I left my apartment and my job and I decided to start travelling in Rishikesh. The only reason I am here is yoga, in all of the books I have read about yoga there is mention of Rishikesh. I've been practicing yoga in a Western way up 'til now and I wanted to come to the source and see how it is taught in the Indian way. I'm learning a lot because the way it is taught is a bit different.
Amy: Can you put into words how it is taught differently?
Laurent: It is difficult to make generalities about that type of thing but I would say
Ritu Agarwal: Do you think that it is what Andy was saying earlier, more physical than mental in the West and here it is the reverse?
Laurent: Yes, that's it, and I am most interested in the meditation part. I'm very interested in progressing in hatha yoga but what I want to teach is mostly meditation. I came here because I knew I would have the opportunity to do hatha yoga very intensely and to improve my hatha yoga.
Andy: We were talking the other day and you were saying that you were interested in the Buddhist form of meditation rather than the yoga way.
Laurent: Once again it is my point of view -- it is never general -- you have your own experience of what you learn. I've practiced a lot of different types of meditation with visualization and pranayama (breathing), in Switzerland, and I wanted to find something more pure, something only with awareness, so I went to a Vipanassana retreat - 10 days of just silence (in Switzerland but with similar teaching as here). Since then, I only do Vipanassana because I want to teach it and it is important to keep the technique pure and not to mix everything like a big salad.
Surinder Singh: Now (I would like to tell) you the exact meaning of yoga. We are doing (in my class) the physical side, but that is only one part, yoga is more than that, there is also the mental side. Yoga is a holistic science, not a religion. When you come into this yoga life, you try to go deeper and deeper, then you can reach the mental level. Yoga teaches us about the purpose of life. For the purpose of life, you try to go for self-realization. In this way we are taking the characteristics of body, mind and soul - we are using the body as a tool, doing all of the asanas to make the body perfect so we can take (absorb) a very good experience in our lives. If my body is weak I can not take (absorb) the good experience, if my mind is weak, I cannot take the good experience and go for higher knowledge and wisdom. The two things together are a very good instrument - first working on physical well being, and then we can go on to the deeper knowledge of the soul. The characteristics of the soul being omniscience, omnipotence and omnipresence. When we sit for meditation, we are looking for what is inside, removing all of the blockages. If you have many disturbances inside you then you cannot sit for meditation. First you try to analyze yourself and remove the blockages, you ask yourself what is the reason for the problems. When the reason comes to you, it is ultimately coming from the inside. And, when you find the solution, you don't stay with that solution, every day you try to refine the situation, so we can slowly and gradually increase knowledge to gain higher wisdom. Through yoga we can go for a deeper level of mind.
Andy: You are talking about personal experience. What do you think the importance of yoga might be for the functioning of society?
Surinder: Your question is very good. Have you heard about Ashtanga yoga? Ashtanga is a Sanskrit word - ashta means limb of yoga, a part of yoga. The first 2 parts are called yamas and niemas. The second 2 are asanas and pranayama and the fourth, pratahama and samadi. The first 2 parts, yamas and niemas, create social well being and discipline in the life. When you have good discipline you automatically have good societal behavior. Yoga teaches us to first purify yourself as much as you can. And when I purify myself, it automatically affects society's behavior. The other one is the asanas and the pranayamas making physical well being because they are taking us to societal well being - that is the meaning of ashtanga.
Amy: Would you like to take this question as well Ritu? What do you think is the relevance of yoga to society?
Ritu: I feel that criticism as well (as Andy previously noted), a lot of people say that yoga is individualized. In India, I think it is different. I definitely feel that it is leading by example. You learn and from this peace that you achieve, you teach it (peace) to other people. I only got into yoga because my best friend does yoga and I did it with her. I couldn't stand long enough to do one asana. She said that she believed enough in yoga that I would come back to it and I did. I saw that example through her. In India you definitely don't see far reaching societal effects because there is such a strong base of Hinduism that directs society here. I don't feel that devotional yoga is a strong vehicle for Hinduism, it is a latent rather than a blatant form.
Surinder: Another thing, especially in this area (around Rishikesh), which is called the land of the deities, the healing power is very big here. We can say that the energy is much stronger in this area - and we can say that India is a very holistic and spiritual country. We are all learning from our parents, grandfather, grandmother, and we are carrying (information) from very ancient times. India is a spiritual country, and we see the Western countries running for the sense pleasures. India is also running for the sense pleasures so all of that pain and suffering also comes to us. When you just believe in a spiritual system and come under that discipline, you can try to reduce pain and suffering.
Andy: That's very Buddhist. Is that a Buddhist ideal that's been taken into Hinduism or has it been part of Hinduism?
Ritu: Buddhism is extraordinarily young, it is only 2500 years old, and if you look at Hinduism, I don't think you can even put a date on when it actually began. I've had a great difficulty in understanding Hinduism, especially claiming to be a Hindu and not knowing what it is. I saw Buddhism as very tangible so I studied it in Thailand and when I got back to India I spoke with a sadhu (religious figure) and the Sadhu was telling me all of these beautiful things that was exactly Buddhism, but is was also Hinduism.
Laurent: Isms! For me, I don't know. Universal truth. There is no Hinduism, no Buddhism. They all talk about the same thing. The only difference is cross-cultural difference, difference of technique, but it is universal. So, is it a part of Buddhism or Hinduism or Chistianism or this or that? It is just reality.
Andy: Isn't that Laurentism? The idea of universal truth is questionable.
Laurent: Of course, because you have a rational mind and you like to question. In Western countries this is the way we work with our minds. We are always asking questions but there is no answer because every time you answer a question, there is a new question or 2 new questions. When you came to me and asked me to participate in this lunch salon, I said that I didn't like to speak about this kind of thing, it is because I feel there is a lot of discussion and not enough practice. This is a problem in Western countries - we study this and study that it is very interesting, it gives me a good feeling, I read this book, oh marvelous,it is talking about love, about peace but we do not practice For me, the main thing coming here for example, is that it could be beautiful if people in Western countries started practicing instead of talking. Do not take it personally.
Andy: Oh no, I was questioning the notion of universal truth which I think is something that is more questioned in the West than it is in
Laurent: Yes, it is questioned in the West because we do not realize it in the West.
Andy: Does it exist? Universal truth? Where is it?
Ritu: Don't be such a pessimist.
Laurent: I studied Western philosophy for 4 years and I had that type of discussion so much because (it is) in the Western way of thinking. In Western philosophy, there is no truth because everything is related, but this is only because we see reality from a rational-mind point of view.
Andy: Yeah, subject/object dichotomy.
Ritu: Universal truth is interesting, because although I told you not to be such a pessimist, I'm not the optimist myself. I'll go outside and I'll have my wallet on me. My actions are definitely different than my words, there is a breach between the two I was reading this book talking about Buddhism and love and war, and not having war. (It talked about) how to maintain peace - is it through nuclear weapons? Well, nuclear weapons are just as dangerous as just saying, well, forget it, I just won't keep any weapons and try to see what happens. They are both self-destructive. Why not try the more peaceful one rather than the more destructive one? But we tend to go to the most destructive one. I feel that human nature tends to be more destructive, but I think universal truth exists, and we are coming to see that slowly as we progress as a society.
Andy: Is it a universal truth for example that desire is evil? I am playing devil's advocate, like desire for money?
Laurent: It is not. It leads you to suffering, but it is not evil.
Andy: It leads to suffering, okay, let's not say evil. Desire leads to suffering. Is that a universal truth?
Laurent: I don't know, you have to realize it to know. This is realization. In the spiritual disciplines, you realize the concept, you live and you feel them, and you don't have to talk about them any more.
Andy: You have to talk about them because somehow that information has to get from one person to another, it has to be transmitted. Buddha talked about things, presented his ideas
Ritu: I think you guys are talking about two different things. You (Andy) are talking about a societal level and Laurent is talking more about a personal level. I feel like what you (Laurent) are trying to say that instead of questioning where did the world begin and what do I desire, what do I not desire, instead of questioning, questioning, questioning, you believe it is better to realize what you desire and deal with that. I think Andy's question is different, more societal.
Andy: Yes, I'm coming from that angle.
Ritu: I think Laurent's coming from a more personal - maybe.
Laurent: 100% personal.
Amy: Well, I think that what Surinder was saying, and please stop me if I'm misinterpreting, but you are saying that with yoga, a healthy body, healthy mind will create a healthy society. By the individual being healthy and spiritual and being a complete (whatever that may mean) person, they will create a healthy society.
Surinder: Yes, if you come into discipline in your life, then that creates a reaction. If I am very humble, very polite with others then the same things come to me. It will take time, maybe 1 month, 2 months - everyone can change, slow, gradual change.
Amy: It's like the trickle-up vs. the trickle-down theory.
Andy: This is something that I struggle with, what we are talking about here. My artwork isvery political, for example, I do a lot of work against capitalism and big corporations and all this type of thing. I don't know, maybe it has some positive effects. I try to make it humorous as well, but then I think, maybe it's better to just look after myself, do my own thing, to look at it as more of a micropolitics of individual interactions rather than going for the whole thing and saying this is wrong and making those types of statements. I'm confused about this issue.
Amy: Well, it is very confusing. It goes back to individual choice --how do you deal with it? Laurent was talking about action vs. theory.
(Hermelinda arrives and introduces herself, discussion about the whereabouts of lunch ensues)
Amy: To recap for Melinda, we were discussing the relevance of yoga and why we are in Rishikesh as well as other big questions such as how society thrives and how we best can make that happen. One big question that has emerged is how we can work the inner and the outer together, the inner being ourselves as individuals and the outer being the larger society. Like Andy, I also struggle with this as my artwork is very personal, I use a lot of my old clothes, I work alone in my studio making my little, strange totemic objects and then I present then in galleries and other such places. But, to balance that, I teach inner-city teenagers and that really engages me in a social way. I really try to work with these teenagers, using art to teach them about life. It is very difficult because, as Melinda said in her introduction, especially in America, the society is very materialistic, it is all about the car, the apartment, and how to get there. We try to show the teens that there is a different way, often leading by example by doing community-based projects. They also help put up shows in the gallery where the program is based and interact with artists and expand their knowledge base that way. In sum, we try to make other options available to them - teach them that they can do something else besides work at McDonalds in order to get drunk on Friday nights. It is the hardest thing to do, get teens (or anyone) to go outside the box, outside of their own micro-culture.
Ritu: I think that is the reason that a lot of us came travelling - we had our own little box. You can find yourself living in New York City, for example, and only go 4 blocks -- and that is your life.
Amy: So true, this program with teens, along with my yoga practice and inner studio work is what gives my life its balance. Each person has to come up with their own balance, the way that they can productively benefit themselves and society.
Ritu: Sounds like Karma yoga.
Surinder: Giving unconditional service to others is when peace comes to us. When giving service to others is conditional, peace is never given to us. This is called true karma yoga.
Ritu: What was your original question again?
Amy: The original question was why we came to Rishikesh, and the relevance of yoga for you as an individual and for society. Perhaps Melinda would like to catch up with this.
Melinda: I came to Rishikesh by coincidence. I didn't plan to come here. I came to India because I was planning to go to the south where they do water quality projects, but in the end, certain complications occurred -- I was travelling with a friend who was sick, it was very hot in Varanasi, we couldn't find a train anywhere except to Rishikesh. It was lucky and I think that everything happens for a reason. If I am here it is because I was meant to be here. I always wanted to do yoga, I was always curious about it. I don't know about your background, but I grew up in a family surrounded by friends who never talk about the spiritual level. And personally, I am always in a hurry, I want things done quickly and am very impatient. I think yoga may help me with that. I think that there are people who can get to a certain point without doing yoga and others that can do yoga their whole lives but miss the point. When you are in the city where you live, doing your job, it is really easy to forget about it (the spiritual life). It is really easy to get upset because of a traffic jam or whatever, but now that I am here, I have a chance to devote my energy to slowing down, and to learning more about things that interest me. Just seeing other people who live according to what they say really motivates me.
(Food finally arrives, general lunch conversation about siblings, birth order, family members connection to yoga )
Amy: While we eat, I would like people to think about their reactions or thoughts about the increasing violence over the past year. Do you feel worldwide violence and terrorism in general has increased with the attack on the World Trade Center? However, I am more interested in the current situation in India with Hindu/Muslim violence and in Israel with the Palestinian suicide bombings and Israeli retaliation. Is there more violence now? And, if so, how can we reconcile the fact that the world seems to be breaking apart into more and more factions at a time when the world should be coming together?
Ritu: That is an enormous question.
Andy: I'm just going to throw out an idea on the reason that terrorism, particularly fundamentalist Islamic terrorism has increased and why Bin Laden has a following. It is because since the collapse of an alternative to materialist capitalism which is represented by America and other western countries, there hasn't been an alternative ideology to oppose it and I think oppressed peoples are rallying around Islam. Although in some ways it is worse than American ideology in some of its more fundamental aspects, I think it gives an alternative to that model which appears to be taking over on a global scale. So anyone can respond to that.
Melinda: Was that a question?
Ritu: It is interesting that you think Islam is filling in. Is that how you view it? Because after the Cold War there is no bi-polar centers of power, now there is just one mentality.
Andy: I think there are no alternatives. What alternatives are left? Vietnam, China? All these countries now, you go to Vietnam, Saigon is just like America, it is more like America then San Francisco, in a way. All these great sorts of experiments have ended in brutality and failure. Maybe consumerism and capitalism is the only system that keeps people's innate greed in check while on some level providing for society. I don't know, these are questions I ask myself all the time.
Ritu: I haven't thought this out very well, but I have a sense that it is due to a lot of resentment to misdirected foreign policies (United States) and unnecessary intervention. So there is a view now that there is something to rally around, it might not be Islam itself but what Islam represents, not an enemy, but someone who is willing to face someone who is persecuting you. If you look at the countries I see them predominantly as Third World countries - and why is that? Is religion the real focus and what is the definition of religion? Can you take that away from politics? And then, what does politics mean? Does it take away from the morals of society?
Andy: I would like Laurent to tackle the question of whether violence is increasing and if so, why? Or is there a constant amount that is inevitable?
Laurent: I dont know if violence is increasing but it has changed its form. Violence has always existed but we didn't see it. Now we see it because of the global information system, so we see violence - we are more aware of it. People are more and more aware of what's happening, which is a good thing. I don't know if it is good or bad, but they know about it. For example, in Switzerland, after the World Trade Center, there was an aftershock, an awareness of, yes, we have to take care of the planet and to realize that we are alive and this is where we are living and we are responsible for our acts. Responsibility is something that is missing, I think, because you have to know the consequences of what you are doing. If you don't, then there is no responsibility, it is always someone else's responsibility.
Melinda: You asked if violence has increased after 9/11. I am not refuting how big and bad the attack was, but I would suggest that Americans do not know what violence is. I grew up in a country where my friend has been kidnapped, people that I know have been killed and this is normal for me. I grew up with this, it is my daily life. People ask me if Columbia is dangerous. It is dangerous for locals, not for tourists, because they will kidnap people that they know have money. 3,000 people died in the Twin Towers. In Columbia, the 1st cause of death is not cigarettes, it is not cancer, it is because in the countryside, there are people shooting each other. I have been lucky because I grew up in the city and my dad has a good job so I have been able to travel and see something else. But, there are people there that will never see something else. When I was little I remember I learned about WWII and that 6 million Jews were killed. I always wondered how that happened when someone could have done something. It is easy, it happened in Vietnam, in Bosnia-Herzegovina, it wasn't as big as the Twin Towers, it happened in Afghanistan. It happens all the time, we just don't see it . Now you say that people are more conscious (of violence) because CNN is showing the Twin Towers, not the people dying in Afghanistan, they show the bombs, but Besides religion and whatever, war is a business, I just hope that Columbia is not next , because it is a good business for people to sell weapons. Panama was invaded 10 years ago because they were looking for Noriega. They arrived, put bombs everywhere, found the guy and shot everyone for ten days and it wasn't on the world news. We knew because it was the country next to us. That could happen in my country any time. Bombs can arrive, they can blow up, it will be on CNN and people will say, oh that is terrible, but I would say that it has always happened, but unless it happens right next to you, you will say, 'oh, okay, ' but otherwise you will do whatever you do in your normal life.
Amy: I agree. It's very frustrating that there was so much attention on 9/11, and I know that I am part of it because I asked that question. But, coming from New York and being in New Zealand when it happened, people asked if I was very upset about this great tragedy. I was strangely unaffected - not unaffected of course, but wondering why this was any worse than any other horrible situation or bombing. Yes, it was in New York which is where I am from but it was very frustrating to have it singled out as if it was special
Andy: I think it is different because of it's symbology. It is a huge symbolic act to fly these technologically advanced airplanes into the symbol of American capitalism and to destroy it. It was horribly brilliant.
Amy: Andy and I had such hope afterward. People were really talking about US policies and about why people would want to do such a shocking act. Instead of thinking that America could do no wrong and was so great, people started questioning why people wanted to bring down the TwinTowers. A debate did start afterwards and the idea of rethinking some policies did emerge. Then 3 weeks later they decided, well, let's not think about it anymore, let's attack Afghanistan, that must be the answer. Very frustrating.
(Personal discussions re: women travelers, learning Hindi, Indian men's propensity for staring and how to deal with that. Barfi appears.)
Amy: I would like to get back on topic for a moment and hear what Surinder or anyone else has to say about the Hindu/Muslim violence in Gujurat. I don't know much about the situation other than it has been going on ever since Partition and probably before that. My question is, what can be done? How can we stop it? How can we stop the violence going on all over the world?
Surinder: Yoga! Actually the problem is we are not taking responsibility, only the leaders are doing all of these things (the violence). The educated people are never involved in these activities. The lower classes are doing this because they are not aware of other options. Some are doing it for the money. It is very sharp minds, Muslim/Hindu leaders who are using the illiterate ones. America makes very good ammunition and we (India) have asked America for the last 20-30 years to check with us because we are fighting with Pakistan, but they never listen to us. After September 11, with what is going on with America, now they understand. It is normal for India, it always happens. Every day in Jammu and Kashmir five, ten, fifteen people die, every day.
Andy: Why are the powerful people doing it? To consolidate their own position and maintain power?
Surinder: They only want to attain power, fame and status. They are not trying to solve the problem, only to create it.
Amy: To keep their power?
Andy: Pointless really.
Laurent: To have an enemy always gives the impression that you exist.
Amy: That is one way of getting some sort of physical reaction. Fear, to know that you are alive.
Laurent: But also mentally because if you have an ideology fighting against another ideology then you have power because it is fighting against something. If there is no enemy then there is no need for ideology, it just disappears.
Amy: It's so interesting what Surinder was saying and that the people and governments seem so far apart from each other. Andy and I were so upset by the US waging war on Afghanistan as their response to the 9/11 bombing that we held a bed-in for peace inspired by John Lennon and Yoko Ono's bed-in against the Vietnam war. We spent 48 hours fasting and talking with people all over the world about ways to achieve peace. Almost everyone, the majority of people we spoke to, people from Pakistan, Israel, U.S., Canada and Spain, Japan, etc wanted peace and the question was how to get there.
Andy: Nobody would say that they don't want peace.
Amy: People did. There was a few people that said we have to bomb them, that that is the only way to teach them a lesson. But the majority of people said that they don't think that that is the way to go and that people need to come together. And my question is, if people feel that way, why is it not happening? Government action and people's wants seem very far apart. Maybe it does all go back to yoga, if everyone did yoga
Laurent: Yes, I think what is happening now in the human consciousness is that we are becoming more and more aware of the fact that we have to solve our own personal problems before solving other people's problems. If I suffer, how can I replace suffering in other people. So, first I start with relieving my own suffering - then my action is pure because if I act with suffering inside of me or with anger or hate then my action is not pure. This is karma- there is action, reaction. You act with hate and you get hate, you act with a pure mind, pure body, pure heart, then there is only purity coming back. If you bomb someone, you increase violence and you feel so powerful, there is always counter-effect. For me, for example, on 9/11 that was a counter-effect for the policies of the US for over 50 years.
Melinda: I think everyone wants peace but no one wants to do anything about it. Everyone expects someone else to do it for them. If in America, people wrote to the people they voted for - just by writing a letter they would say that people will not vote for me if I do not listen to them. But people do not do that. In Columbia, everyone talks about it a lot but I would say that you don't have to do big things, just small things, like be nice to everybody whether they are rich or poor. If for example, I want to buy a piece of cake and this person doesn't give me the cake I want, but instead of being aggressive I might say, it is the wrong piece of cake or, never mind, I will buy this cake because it is a good cake and I will eat it. If I scream 'why did you give me the wrong cake', this person will have the anger and go to someone else with the anger. So, if in a normal day everyone tried to be nice with the people around them, it is exponential.