Question: When you read the newspaper or watch the news, what issues stand out for you?
Deepak Chopra: For me, the big issues that stand out are conflict in the world, war, terrorism, climate chaos, global warming, social injustice, and radical poverty, and the emergence of new diseases and epidemics that have the potential to wipe out civilization. But all this, I believe, has creative solutions.
Question: What do you see as the world’s biggest challenge in the coming decade?
Deepak Chopra: I think the biggest challenge for anybody is to break out of a habit. And the world is entrenched in habits that are very ancient. And unless we change those habits; and the most important habit that we have to change is the idea of “me and mine”; the idea that if I can just look out for myself and not worry about the other, then I’ll be okay. But we won’t, because me and the other are inextricably woven into the identity that we call “us.” We have to get out of the habit of thinking “us versus them”. At this moment, the welfare of every sentient life and every human being is intimately tied into our own welfare.
Question: What are the challenges confronting the U.S.?
Deepak Chopra: The United States has to get out of its mood of and habit of belligerence, unilateralism, arrogance, domination, imperialism, and emotional immaturity. If the United States doesn’t do that, it will become irrelevant in the next 15 years.
Question: What should be the big issues of the 2008 US election?
Deepak Chopra: I think the big issues of the next [US] presidential election is to think totally out of the box. Instead of saying, “Can we win the war in Iraq?” the question should be, “Can we find a creative solution?” which exposes our vulnerability, but at the same time requests the help of the international community, including the Iraqis or people in the Islamic world.
We have to really think of creative solutions for all the problems. Instead of using words like “war on terrorism, war on drugs, war on AIDS, war on poverty,” let’s understand that creativity is the solution, and that we have to get out of our extreme nationalism as well. Unfortunately, people don’t realize, but nationalism is a very dangerous impulse. Einstein said that nationalism is an infantile disease. It’s the measles of humanity. Nationalism is a sophisticated form of tribalism. Eric Fromm, a great psychologist, said nationalism is our form of incest. It’s our idolatry, and patriotism is a cult.
Recorded on: Aug 17, 2007