Postscript to Dharma

Postscript by Dr. R. Narayanaswami written in January 2013 to the “Onam August 2012 Special Souvenir article on ‘Dharma’ by Dr. R. Narayanaswami” Extracted from the ‘’ website


In the last paragraph of the article on “Dharma”, I had stated that “Dharma must thus proceed bottom up all the way to the top of it has to become part of governing”. One of my friends after reading the article on Onam celebrations day, 15 September 2012, in Los Angeles, California, told me that he does not wish to pick a fight with me but nonetheless wants to say that my suggestion of “Dharma having to proceed bottom-up” will not work. I maintained that I am convinced that only by ‘each and every one of us re-learning this simple concept of dharma and leading a life based on dharma will we be able to demand that those who govern us follow governance based on dharma’. A real-life example in support of my above contention took place within 10 days of my discussion with my friend and that is described below.

The national sports of US, the National Football League professional games beginning in September of every year, and concluding with the Super Bowl in February of the following year is one of the most-widely watched professional sports in the US. The referees manning these games, about 150 strong, decided to strike for better terms of service for themselves at the beginning of the season in August 2012, so ‘temporary referees’ were officiating when the 2012 season started on Sunday, 9 September 2012. About 15 to 16 games every week were played and in the 3 weeks ending Sept. 24, 2012, about 45 games or so have thus been officiated by the ‘temporary referees’. Many mistakes did take place in some of these games during the 3 weeks the temporary referees were officiating but the National Football League Owners Association did not budge and did not try to bridge the gap and come to an agreement with the striking referees association. On Monday, 24 September 2012, the temporary referees made many mistakes in a nationally televised game and watched by about 20+ million football fans, one such mistake made on the last play was so egregious that it cost the Green Bay Packers the game, the beneficiary being their opponents, the Seattle Seahawks, who were awarded a touchdown, with time running out. The 20+ million fans and others who watched the game and many others who read later about the game where the temporary officiating crew made such a crucial game-costing error took to newspapers, airwaves, and social media like Facebook, Twitter, etc. to criticize the ‘greed of the owners’ and their unwillingness to negotiate ‘in good faith’ and concede the legitimate demands of the striking permanent referees. Lo and behold, the Owners association met, and within a couple of days after Sept. 24 settled the strike conceding the demands of the striking permanent referees. From the following week onwards, the temporary referees were gone, the permanent referees were back officiating the NFL games and normalcy was restored.

Why did the owners not settle with the striking referees after the first week or the second week or the third week of the game when errors by the temporary officiating crew were occurring? Were these demands of the striking referees not as just then as it was when it was settled within a couple of days after the game on Sept. 24? The answer to the first question, in my view, is “pure and simple ego on the part of the owners, almost all of whom are billionaires with a ‘b’ as the first letter or worth hundreds of millions of dollars, not wanting to grant the reasonable demands for better wages and service terms of the striking referees”. The answer to the second question is that the demands of the striking referees were reasonable and could have been settled at any time. That the many mistakes by the ‘temporary referees’ during the first weekend or second weekend or even on the Sunday of the third weekend ought to have forced the owners to accede to the demands of the striking referees but did not is, in my opinion, due to the attitude of the owners, the ‘my way or the high way’ arrogant attitude, contrary to fairness, dharma, and common sense. But, the fans and masses had a fair-mindedness and moral and dharmic approach to the situation. While the fans were vocal in their support of the right cause of the striking referees, they were helpless to do much other than an appeal to the goodness of the owners to settle the matter. The ‘egregious’ error by the ‘temporary referees’ who were officiating the Monday night’s game changed everything and the millions of fans spoke with one voice against the delay of the owners in acceding to the fair demands of the striking referees. In other words, the righteous indignation of the vast majority of the fans, 20 million + or more, is something that the owners or the powers that be could not ignore. Dharma prevailed not because the owners, the top deciders, wanted to be dharmic but the power of the dharmic voice of the 20+ million strong fan-base forced the top deciders to follow dharma and settle the strike. This justifies my “Dharma” paper’s central contention and my response to my friend that “Dharma must proceed bottom up all the way to the top of it has to become part of governing”.