Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Garry Kasparov: Great Chess Champion, Greater Human Being

Courage is essential in every walk of life, beginning with the courage to think creatively, especially in times of crisis. Fear comes in many forms related to decision-making. The fear of being wrong, the fear of change, fear of the unknown, the fear of hurting those who are important to us. Failure to control these fears leads to slower and inferior decisions and, in turn, to greater fear the next time--Garry Kasparov

Garry Kasparov is arguably the greatest chess player of all-time but--more importantly--he is also a courageous, passionate and well informed champion of human rights and political freedom. He understands how the forces of history and human psychology work and he is willing to risk his life to fight the evil regime of Vladimir Putin. "Evil" is not a popular word in today's era of moral equivalence but if you are unwilling or unable to properly identify evil then you have no chance to defeat it.

Kasparov recently visited India, where he gave a brilliant speech that discussed not only Putin's evil regime but also explained that change is an inevitable part of life. As Kasparov put it:

That is the first and most important message of change: it is happening whether you like it or not. If there’s rain, you can complain about the weather, you can take an umbrella, but you can’t stop the rain. You can ignore change, join it, or try to control it, but it is happening on a permanent and accelerating basis. Positive change is nearly impossible without courage, a word I will use many times here today. As Nehru said it well, “the policy of being too cautious is the greatest risk of all.”

In politics, as in the business world and in the natural world, the status quo is always dying. This is simply Darwin’s law. 150 years ago he wrote: “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change.” This is also true for systems of government and international institutions. And even though we are in a time of great turmoil and change, they are not adapting nearly fast enough.

Kasparov's entire speech is well worth reading and, more importantly, it deserves serious attention from world leaders and all concerned citizens not just in Russia but everywhere, because Putin is a threat and menace not only to his own people but--by virtue of his support for and active collaboration with despotic regimes in Iran, Syria and elsewhere--to the freedom and security of the entire world.

Here is a link to a complete transcript of Kasparov's speech: The Politics of Change

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