Al Campanis and Class Consciousness During an ABC Nightline tribute to baseball great Jack

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Al Campanis and Class Consciousness ----------------------------------- During an ABC Nightline tribute to baseball great Jackie Robinson recently, host Ted Koppel's guests included Los Angeles Dodgers' Vice President Al Campanis. During the course of that now famous interview, Al Campanis said quite unabashedly that blacks lack the "necessities" for positions as baseball managers. That comment caused a great deal of protest, especially from black rights advocates and the pressure shortly cost Campanis his job. Although Campanis was being totally frank about what he thought were the qualifications of blacks, he may have also "lacked" the necessary foresight to see what such controversial comments would provoke. Today, we now live in an "enlightened" age where classes just don't exist. We've arrived at a time where "equal rights" are key buzz words and any hint of inequality can cause a great disturbance. According to the science of Krishna consciousness however, different classes of people do exist, always. The trendy idea that all types of men are equal in all respects is based on nice sentiment, but practically or philosophically, is not valid. Lord Krishna is the creator of the system of varnashrama-dharma which is the division of society into four civilized classes and orders of life. Briefly stated, the four varnas or classes of human society classifies men by their guna and karma (qualities and activities) and is not determined by race or hereditary. In our American history, we understand that being white meant one was a first class man and others, especially black, meant being lower class and exploitable. Although such exploitative racial mentality finds expression in some existing fringe racial supremacist groups, the proper system of class divisions is propagated within the Krishna science. That Vedic system holds that four classes of men are absolutely necessary for the proper functioning of any civilized society. Fourth class men, known as the shudra class, generally act as faithful and skilled laborers, artists and musicians. Third class men, known as vaishyas, serve society through animal protection,--especially cow protection--agriculture and business. The second class of men known as kshatriyas, serve society by performing heroic deeds of protecting defenseless citizens like the aged, women and children and the other three nonviolent classes of men. They also engage in governmental affairs. Finally, the first class man or brahmanas are those who engage in learning, teaching and setting the example for others in the matter of advancing the whole of society in progressive spiritual culture; specifically in advancing in the science of devotional service to the Supreme Lord Krishna. In comparison to that God-created social system, we have the democratic system of government as created by man. There is nothing wrong with that style of society when it is done according to the motto, "In God We Trust," however, when God is out of the picture, there is every cause for doubt in any man- made system of civilization. Everyone should be given the opportunity to become a first class man. Due to differences in everyones psycho/physiological constitution, a man can and will accept the socially beneficial Šduties of a first to fourth class man as individually suitable. In the Vedic class structure, there was no question of seeing any such class as various degrees of degradation because each class was absolutely necessary for proper functioning of society as a whole with their respective grave responsibilities. The Vedic class system can be compared with the physical body. The fourth class laborers can compare with the legs; the third class businessmen, the belly; the second class administrators, the arms; and the first class intellectuals, the head. One cannot say that the legs are not necessary; however, in comparison, the head is most vital. Similarly, without proper guidance from the first class men, society is "headless" or without knowledge about the proper direction the social body should take. We can look at modern society and see many differences between that Vedic varnashrama system of society and the present classless society. Some obvious differences are that today's administrators who would normally fit the second class description as leaders of government, do not actively engage in physical warfare as the kshatriyas had done. Prabhupada would point out that leaders of state would declare warfare from their comfortable offices against another country, and war would continue for years on end without conclusion. In the Vedic system of warfare, when the King was killed, war was finished. Also, fighting today is not done according to rules and regulations, but anything and everything may be done to finish the enemy, up to and including the mass annihilation of innocent women, children, etc. Secondly, our farmers who would normally fit the description given to third class men in the Vedic culture, do not protect animals, but rather they maintain mass production slaughterhouses. Especially sinful is the slaughtering of cows which, from a purely practical point of view, are the most beneficial of animals. She abundantly provides all the nutritious dairy products. In return, our society cuts her throat. These cruel actions and the exploitation of animal life in general ultimately takes its toll upon such an animal killing society. Our intelligent class of men--typically scientists--are not employed in understanding and establishing the subtle and sublime science of Krishna consciousness and therefore leading ideal God conscious lives, but they are actually being employed by the fourth class type of shudra men in the form of businessmen in order to exploit the resources of nature to the max. They use their brains to speculate on various philosophies about the nature of life, but such godless theories cannot do any good to help relieve the soul from the bondage and miseries of material life. "In the future,..." is their typical slogan for promising a better life tomorrow through chemicals while leading the whole society down the road of atheistic speculation. Modern women have been trying to declare equality to and independence from men. As a result, women are encouraged to engage in free sex and consequently must abort their babies or beg alms from the government for assistance. In the Vedic system, women were given all protection by their husbands, fathers and sons; provided for adequately along with children, and never allowed to roam freely under the plea of equal rights. ŠIn this way, society was relatively free from prostitution and children were practically guaranteed a family with mother and father. The Indians who have traditionally engaged in varnashrama- dharma have abused this system by understanding it in a different way. Their social corruption began when they started to think that class qualification was due to hereditary rather than by the above mentioned qualifications of guna and karma (inherent qualifications of the person). They thought that if the father was first class man (brahmin) then the son must necessarily also be first class. This theory caused the downfall of the Indian caste system. The existing class system as followed by contemporary Hindus is practically valueless because it still believes class is a function of hereditary and race. When Prabhupada started the Hare Krishna movement, his aim was to create a section of first class men who were fixed in the principles of Krishna consciousness and who could guide the misdirected world civilization out of its ignorance about the supremacy of God. The idea was, when foolish man tries to compete with or ignore the laws of God being overly proud of his meager technological achievements, only misfortune follows. Such first class men, trained in the authorized principles of Krishna consciousness, could help save society from material and spiritual degradation and suffering. The whole idea behind participating in any of these four classes of society would be to create a peaceful God-centered civilization and make gradual advancement in Krishna consciousness. Then one could naturally and easily gain tangible proof of the existence of God through realization within his heart by the mercy of Krishna. In the Vedic civilization, there would be no scope for participation in mundane athletics. As such, the participants of modern baseball, football, golf, bowling, etc., could be employed in more socially beneficial activity like performing labor related tasks or training in various fighting skills meant for protecting the citizens from bad elements. Campanis could have said that from his own personal experience he felt that blacks generally excel in athletics and therefore would not be likely to be attracted in competing in the work world of baseball management. That may have been a reasonable assessment coming from a man experienced in the athletic field. However, because he said blacks have no qualifications to compete in the world of management, he was simply echoing a racial truism. Indians sometimes feel similarly toward Westerners in this way. Because India is home to a comparatively strong religious culture it is, by definition, considered further advanced in civilized life than the rest of the Western technologically based world. As such, sometimes Indians shun Western visitors from their temples as well as remain culturally independent. This action, at least has shown to be sometimes wise as Indians generally do not eat meat and are not generally infected by other culturally degrading and typically Western practices. That Indians find divorce, promiscuity, pornography and homosexuality unacceptable in finding a place in their society is not bad. Rather it is a sign that their culture is trying to withstand the onslaught of Western sexual mores. Also, their country is relatively free Šfrom AIDS. No matter what type of culture or race one belongs to, there may be some inherent ethnic characteristics. But no matter if one Indian, Russian, Chinese, Japanese, Christian or Hindu, he can accept the duties of a first, second, third or fourth class man and gradually make advancement in Krishna consciousness. The artificial movement today is to infiltrate all areas of work with a proper proportion of whites, blacks, women, and hispanics. According to the Krishna science however, this racial representation is artificial. Society should be reorganized so that only proper varnashrama divisions exist so that everybody is working constructively toward cultivating Krishna consciousness and not engaged in wasting time with chasing balls all around. The reason one is given a specific duty within society is not to fill some whimsical quota but to serve society according to ones qualifications. If one is qualified to be a president, he should do it no matter if he's white or black. But what is the scope for arguing about who will manage a team of ball chasers all summer long? "Give this black man a chance at managing the ball chasers. Now give this woman the opportunity...." The fault is no one is seeing the value of advancing in spiritual life but they are wasting time on useless activities. One reaches the perfection of life when one comes directly to the devotional service of Lord Krishna. Rather than concern oneself in the duties of various classes of men, he engages directly in the service of Krishna and his actions are always done under the direction of Krishna and His bona fide representative. As such, he engages himself in the most beneficial welfare activity for suffering society; that is, educating everyone in the science of Krishna consciousness. Anyone, regardless of caste and creed, can come to the perfection of life and engage in the loving service of the Supreme Lord Krishna. Such a person knows that the true identity of the living entity is not black, white, Catholic or Hindu, but he sees that everyone has accepted a material body due to his desire to enjoy the pleasures and pains of material life. He sees that everyone is a part and parcel of Krishna and that the goal of life means to come in contact with Krishna through devotional service. The father of the Krishna consciousness movement, Lord Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, wanted the cult of Krishna consciousness be spread throughout the world. He did not mean for the fifth and tenth classes men keep their abominable behaviors and become a so-called brahmana. He meant that everyone be delivered from the clutches of sinful life through the process of chanting the holy names of God such as Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare/Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare. Through this easy performance of sacrifice, they all can be reclaimed to the platform of pure devotional service which means above brahmana. The leaders of society should take advantage of the Krishna movement and establish the varnashrama system so that society can be organized according to the directives of Krishna. This is a practical system to see that the motto, "In God We Trust" is instituted. If God is not put in the center, class distinction, battle for supremacy and desire for first class treatment on the artificial platform will always be there. But if God is in the center, everyone can be constructively engaged according to his Šabilities with a view towards advancing in understanding God which is the goal of life. --Vaishnava dasa


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