April 2, 2008

Pitching for Asian American Activism

ts-brooks-190.jpgDavid Brooks is my favorite columnist in the NY Times. Yes, I know he's conservative. Yes, I know his opinions often seem overly rigid and tend to ignore outliers and exceptions. But when he's on fire, he's on fire. He's probably the one columnist in the NY Times whose articles will almost always improve your life in one way or another, even if his commentary is not as biting and funny as Maureen Dowd's.

His article yesterday was no exception. Brooks takes a book about pitching baseballs and uses the lessons to improve life in general. Not only was it a great article to help people deal with their lives, it is a great article to help Asian American activists.

Just a few gems:

Dorfman offers to liberate people from what you might call the tyranny of the scattered mind. He offers to take pitchers, who may be thinking about a thousand and one things up on the mound, and give them mental discipline.

Scattered mind? Isn't that the problem with the deconstructionist legacy that we've all inherited? If we focused on one problem at a time, we'd be much more effective.

Just as a bike is better balanced when it is going forward, a pitcher’s mind is better balanced when it is unceasingly aggressive. If a pitcher doesn’t actually feel this way when he enters a game, Dorfman asks him to pretend.

In other words, let's focus on being proactive.

The pitcher’s personality isn’t at the center. His talent isn’t at the center. The task is at the center.

That's right. Activism isn't about personalities or about "how will I make money by selling yet another movie with orientalist themes." It's about what Asian Americans need to do to create a culture based on social justice and equality.

Not long ago, Americans saw the rise of a therapeutic culture that placed great emphasis on self-discovery, self-awareness and self-expression. But somehow the tide seems to have turned from the worship of self, and today’s message is: transcend yourself in your job — or get shelled.

Transcend your job because it's not about a search for identity. It's about changing society and attitudes.

Check out the article here.

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