Monday, March 19, 2012

Learning from Loss - the changing weather...

It may be ironic to talk about loss as we make way for spring. Spring rites are now playing out around the world. We Hindus just celebrated our festival of colors, Holi, and uncannily the warm weather (global warming or not) thaws out our bones and makes us flex our wares. Like buds sprouting we suffer from an eternal loss of memory of wintry mornings, and become surprisingly present to nature's change. Other loss in life we carry like an old overcoat, torn and tattered, out of the habit formed of attachment. My 22 year old was just watching 'Harold and Maude' for the first time. I remember enjoying watching it in my 20s. I smile at the attitude Maude has to 'attachment' even though she clearly has an issue with it. She seeks to teach others not to be attached to anything, while she clings for dear life to the idea of letting go as she nears 80 years of age... knowing she will soon have to give up the body in which she has lived them.

I work with clients everyday who have encountered difficulty with loss of all kinds, personal, financial, career, business, sexual, life and limb etc. It appears to me that most litigation is a forum to deal with loss that is difficult to overcome without reengaging the adverse party. If I succeed at litigation, it is mostly because I know so much about loss...and how to recover from it. The experience of loss can engender many different reactions: 1. shock - leading to a kind of repetition compulsion (where one needs to replay, or sometimes worse, reexperience the act of losing similar things in order to process the loss); 2. anger - leading to a situation where someone, sometimes anyone, must be blamed and must pay for the loss ... a kind of negative pay it forward (if I have paid, others must too, which is just a different kind of repetition compulsion; a sharing of loss with others even though it is hard to see it that way); 3. desperation - we all have difficulty dealing with people who have stepped over the edge of any kind of equilibrium in response to their loss. They are unpredictable, angry, blaming, sad, but very close to giving up any hope that they can recover, if not the thing lost, at least their own equilibrium; 4. depression - when there is no satisfaction and much has been tried, people will succumb to the pain of loss turning inwards(depending on various internal resources, a person's resilience will be determined here.)

Loss, like all transition, is as much a part of life as the changing weather. Yet I am caught here because I know the feeling. The loss of control. The inability to change the weather. The inability sometimes simply not to get what you want. Last year, my mother underwent a series of operations to save her life and remove a dangerous growth inside her brain. She came through with much ado... needing time for her recovery; however the recovery is not quite as I had hoped and I know that sooner or later (having an inner sense of how long I have) I must get used to the idea that I will have to let go. There is not much, including my own life, I would not give up... I know what she wants and has always wanted for me, the things she would forbid me to give up as much as I would want to, because she worked hard to get me here. She is a trooper and she is doing her best under the excruciatingly difficult circumstances of her life to battle, never complaining as is her way. A doer and leader, not a follower or procrastinator... her strength in the face of fire and nails is painful to experience at times.

There is nothing one can do but admire the spirit and pray and worship all that she is. And so cheeks wet with the surrender required to honor her spirit, body, heart and mind, I attempt to follow in the footsteps of her strength. Those footsteps beckon my calling to my clients all over the world, to ease their discomfort and provide hope of recovery. As melodramatic as the ubiquity of loss may sound, I believe completely that its experience leaves most of us retriggered fundamentally in aspects and ways that have not been studied, possibly critically undermining our ability for productive engagement with systemic solutions. As such, I do find myself providing support of a therapeutic nature through the law that is at times desperately needed. There is no doubt in my mind that even in cases where recovery of the object of loss is not possible (personal loss for instance), recovery of one's equilibrium is still possible and should be sought:) Legal engagement starts to help with this process.


Monday, January 2, 2012

A New Year of Transitions -2012

The past year has had its more than fair share of challenges. For my family, health has been a major issue and as we suffer the temporariness of all that is, the battle continues and it is heart-wrenching. Suffering the passage of time and things brings with it certain boons as well. We start to recognize the value of contemplation and meditation. We start to recognize our position in history,within family and within the world. We start to recognize that we are forever in transition, and change is a habit that we need to adopt, before it adapts us (the latter can be a painful process).

So where are we today according to GDK? We are poised to better understand ourselves as we sit on this lonely planet in the cosmos (recently learning that there is hope of another such planet out there with living characteristics similar to ours). We keep pushing ourselves forward to create and deploy technologies to bring more of us closer together politically and economically. We are learning, sometimes the hard way, the real potential for climactic catastrophe, especially as it pounds against human development (Fukushima for instance). We are running out of energy to sustain us all as the human population sees no bounds. We are at a better place to understand how the social, the technological, the scientific, may conflate to create a space for a socio-economic network to connect us all.

What about finance and trade? We have had to confront the hard truth about the gap between reality and talk; paper is paper after all and we cannot be sure about what it purports to represent; and valuation is tricky if it is manipulated. Perhaps it is time to shift gear and make the rules simpler and accessible to the general public; perhaps popular movements like Occupy Wall Street ask for something when they ask for nothing; perhaps the gains toward popular politics in the middle east push political boundaries beyond their own through a global social network. There is a politics of finance and trade as much as there is financial politics, political trade, and a trade in politics/ideology. Developing nations will become developed superpowers, and superpowers will come full circle to understanding the value of interdependence - economic, cultural, and political. Developing nations have provided resources to the developed and now want to retain some for themselves as they seek to become manufacturing powers... but all are worried about being stripped 'dry'... and strategically that is the rub. What resources are left? greenery, water, timber, minerals... they belong to us all and do not need to be fought over; the demarcation line is not the border between countries - it is where my skin touches yours. This is how close we have become but refuse to acknowledge.

Are fraud and corruption things of the past now that whistleblowing is in vogue and wall street reform a ticket to political office? Fraud and corruption are a part of us still and require our vigilant attention. They are no different than lying and stealing... temptations each of us faces every day. The greater the purse at stake, the more chance a person or a group of persons or an institution will be tempted to shirk moral, if not legal, obligation for pecuniary gain. The fact that there is more social technology to warn others or tell on those who defraud others, may not affect the shaming impulse in quite the same way as litigation on behalf of those defrauded. In other words, despite the Dodd-Frank legislative reform incentivizing whistleblowing to the SEC, and the establishment of the SEC whistleblowing office, there have not been many actions, if any taken to date. The conclusion at this point in time is, we at KLS continue to provide a much needed service, and we even attempt to hold governments accountable. The false claims act cases that whistleblowers themselves may take, and gain government assistance to bring, supply another useful tool against fraud.

Some of the answer lies too in reconfiguring the power to frame the debate around issues of valuation so we can all start to participate in order to regain trust in a system of currency. How exactly are value and contribution/resources linked and what currency exhibits that tie? This is one project that I have taken on for 2012 in a multi-faceted approach. Within KLS, it involves outreach to clients to understand better how their various resources can assist in getting maximum recovery for investors while engaging in dialogue to assist the entire web of relationships regain the trust broken by fraudsters and power mongers.

If there is anything, there is hope that we will come closer to finding the answers.. but there is definitely much to do in 2012! I wish you all courage and the love that supports it, and the great deal of energy, and health, needed to elicit your full contribution!