Water Man Spouts

Wednesday, June 04, 2008


{1} Visions of Our Fathers

"This world and yonder world are incessantly giving birth:
every cause is a mother, its effects the child.
When the effect is born, it too becomes a cause
and gives birth to wonderous effects.
These causes are generation on generation, but it needs
a very well lighted eye to see the links in their chain."
--Jalal-ad-din Rumi; Persian Sufi poet

One of the things that I have enjoyed the most during this democratic primary has been interacting with young adults, who are participating in their first national election. I am old, and at the stage of life where it seems important to pass on what I have had the opportunity to learn in my life. Last week, one young man asked me how it is that I have been able to tell them, in a fairly accurate way, what things would take place in the days and weeks to come.
Part of the reason is, of course, because I can talk to other people who are closer to the on-going events than I am. It is important to seek out a wide range resources, including people and information, because information is a form of power.

One of these was a mentor I had when I was their age. He told me that if you study what happened yesterday, or a week, month, year, decade, or century ago, you can say what will happen tomorrow, and next week, month, year, and decade. Because in most ways, today is a consequence of yesterday, and tomorrow will thus be a consequence of today.

The only thing that can change, he taught me, are people. And if an individual or group wants to change tomorrow, it is important that they change themselves today. For in order to do more, we must be more. The opportunity to change ourselves, and thus begin to change everything around us, is offered to us each and every day.

Yet change is hard. It is always met with resistance. Individuals and groups tend to want things to stay much the same as what they are familiar with, because that is most comfortable. The tendency to want to find that comfort is the reason that George W. Bush and Dick Cheney were able to "win" the presidential elections in 2000 and 2004. Many people wanted what is familiar, and as Kevin Phillips pointed out in "American Dynasty," a large number of people looked at George Bush and saw his father. More, Dick Cheney represented the "stability" of the past.
But we cannot go backwards. The current administration provides proof of the folly of trying to secure the comfort of the past. Now, let’s take a look at the future, for our country is faced with a choice between the folly of looking backwards, versuses the potential of moving forward.

{2} The Strength of Our Mothers

"I myself have no power. It’s the people behind me who have the power. …. But if you’re asking about strength, not power, then I can say that the greatest strength is gentleness.
--Tadodaho Leon Shenandoah; Haudenosaunee (Six Nations Iroquois Confederacy)

When he was a community organizer in Chicago, young Barack Obama became frustrated. He had the best of intentions, but was frustrated by his inability to bring about the types of changes that he recognized were needed to improve the quality of life in the communities he served. He understood that in order to do more, he had to be more. So he went back to school, and became and attorney.

In the 2007-2208 democratic primary, we had a number of highly qualified candidates. Many of them had significant experience in domestic and foreign policy. Any one of them would have been a great improvement over either George Bush or any of the republican candidates.

The most talented of these appeared to be Senator Hillary Clinton. She ran a campaign that said her 36 years of experience would make her "ready on Day One." She was able to identify a number of important things that she would do for people. And this is generally what appeals to the public, because more often than not in Western Society, people want leaders who will do things for them.

Then, almost out of no where, Barack Obama began to be viewed as a serious challenger to Senator Clinton. His campaign was based on the need for change. And he said that when he became president, he would require the cooperation of the grass roots to achieve real change in our society.

The campaign was unique in American history. There were efforts to use events from Obama’s past against him. But these attempts failed. Some felt it was because the media was favoring him. Others believed that Obama had "fooled" his supporters. But, in fact, his strength came from the people behind him. They were responding to a power that is contrary to all Western thought.

While none can doubt that Senator Clinton sincerely wanted to bring positive changes to this country, her campaign was run by experts in the past. Obama likewise advocates change, and his campaign was run by people with the vision to change the tactics and goals for today. Young people in particular invested themselves in his campaign, and as others began to catch on, Obama came from behind to win an upset.

As expected, we see resistance, even within the party. There are those who fold their arms firmly across their chests, and say, "No!" to the Obama campaign. But there are many more who are today shaking hands with others, and saying, "Yes!" And "yes" is a more powerful idea than "no." It offers many more possibilities for us, and opens more potentials for our country.

This summer, a campaign that defines the past versus the future begins in earnest. John McCain is a fossil of the republican past. If he is elected, we will continue in the downward spiral. When he mocks Obama for wanted to end the war in Iraq, we must understand that the next link in the chain that binds McCain to the Bush-Cheney policies involves a widening of the military occupation of the Middle East.

McCain fronts for the one-eyed giant that Thomas Merton spoke of in his book "Gandhi on Non-Violence." He is a puppet of those who use science to advance the destructive forces that endanger our world. The Obama campaign balances the western advances in science with the wisdom found in the rest of the world, which "opens the door to a life in which the individual is not lost in the cosmos and in society but found in them" (Merton)

We have the opportunity to begin to make the changes today that will improve the nation tomorrow. Say, "Yes!"

"The lights begin to twinkle from the rocks;
the long day wanes; the slow moon climbs;
the deep moans round with many voices.
Come, my friends.
‘Tis not too late to seek a newer world."
--Alfred, Lord Tennyson


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