Water Man Spouts

Sunday, April 13, 2008


{1} "We change, whether we like it or not." – Ralph Waldo Emerson
Human nature predisposes us to seek "safety." The Acacia tortilis of the savannahs is imprinted in our collective memories.

There is no serious question that our country faces difficult and often dangerous situations today, and that we must change in order to deal with these threats. These include the environmental crises, disease, and war.

Like many other animals, human beings have a group nature. And when the sun goes down, and the danger of the darkness becomes the greatest, people gather with the group.

Individuals in our modern society tend to react to changing circumstances in one of two ways. The first is to wish for a return of "the good old days," and the other is to try to master change. Most of us, of course, respond to various changes in a combination of the two.

{2} "Things do not change; we change." – Henry David Thoreau

The nature of the republican species is to attempt to return to Mayberry RFD. We can recogize this as a collective coping strategy on their part. Clearly, republican strategists understand this, and hence they produce commercials such as "Morning in America" and remind us that Willie Horton is lurking in the shadows.

Democrats can also be prone to wanting to go back to Ixtlan. For some of us, that means the years 1992 to 2000, rather the Eisenhower era. For others it could be the 1960s, when John Lennon noted that belly buttons were only knee-high.

Others are aware that we need to learn from the past, in order to transition to the future. The time to make change, they tell us, is now. They tell us that we are the agents of change.

{3} "Be the change you want to see in the world." – Gandhi

In traditional Irish culture, there is a recognition of a type of person called a Changeling. Sometimes Changelings are involved in politics or social movements. Other times they are simply the people you meet, who your grandmother said has been here before. Sometimes they take things that you already knew, and put them in a different sequence, and help you to see the world differently.

People respond to Changelings in a couple of ways. Those who understand that we need to change to deal with life welcome the challenges that they present. They know that the significance of a Changeling is their ability to spark motivation in others.

Those who fear change tend to resent the Changelings. They look very hard for flaws in the Changelings, to justify their own unwillingness to change.

In the fields of psychiatry and sociology, these tendencies are associated with what is known as the "locus of control." Those with an internal locus of control believe that they are largely able to control things in their environment; they welcome the opportunity to make changes. Those with an external locus of control believe that outside influences dictate; they are convinced that they are victims of circumstance who require others to make the changes needed for them to stay secure in their sameness.

{4} "For everything you have missed, you have gained something else; and for everything you gain, you lose something else." – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Since John Edwards dropped out of the democratic primary, our choices have been between two US Senators: Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. If we take away all of the nonsense that has polluted the primary atmosphere, we can see that both of these two are solid candidates who could be strong democratic candidates for president. It is, in many ways, a shame that the acrimony from the contest appears to have destroyed any chance of a ticket including both of the two.

If the party nominates Clinton, the ticket loses Obama; if it instead nominates Obama, the ticket will lose Clinton. Those who favor Senator Clinton often point to the stability they associate with her, and suggest that she would help the nation return to the policies of the Clinton-Gore administration. Those who favor Senator Obama recognize that he is an agent of change, and believe that he is more qualified to help lead the nation in the future.

{5} "Somewhere we must come to see that human progress never rolls in on the wheels of inevitability." – Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.

There is a growing recognition that the democratic nominee is going to be Senator Barack Obama. I recognize that others might believe that Senator Clinton still has a chance to win the nomination. I have no interest in debating that with them – they are surely as entitled to that belief as I am to my own.

However, as we approach the summer, we have to make another decision, and that is will we be so invested in the current conflict between the Clinton and Obama campaigns, that we remain mired in it, like sticks in the mud? Or do we change the approach that we take? No matter if Clinton or Obama wins the nomination, for the democratic party to win in November, it will require us all to change. For if we stay the same, it can only mean more of the same, which is what John McCain represents.

"Leadership," the Rev. Jesse Jackson tells us, "has a harder job to do than just chose sides. It must bring sides together." We can provide our own leadership on that, now.


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