Sunday, November 13, 2011

Remembering the North Star

I have to admit it - I'm bored with a lot of our politics lately. I'm bored with OWS. Bored with obsession about Herman Cain's sexual harassment escapades. Bored with Perry's "Oops" moments and Romney's flip-flopping.

But as I began to think about that this morning, I realized its more than boredom. Its that the central focus of all of those things we've been hearing about endlessly lately is meaningless when it comes to what is really important to me. As I let my mind and heart dwell on all of those things, I feel like I'm sinking into the quick sand rather than reaching for the stars.

I know its important to deal with reality and not get so caught up in dreams that we forget the day to day. But so much of our political chatter these days isn't about reality - its about nonsense. And I'm tired of going there.

I've talked before about President Obama's commitment to a North Star.

So, my job is to make sure that we have a North Star out there...At any given juncture there are going to be times that my preferred option, what I am absolutely, positively sure is right, I can’t get done. And so then, my question is, does it make sense for me to tack a little bit this way or that way because I am keeping my eye on the long-term and the long fight. Not my day-to-day news cycle, but where am I going over the long-term.

In this environment, I need to remind myself about that North Star. So this morning I decided to take a look at what leaders from our past and present have said about that.

Yet we know what we must do. It is to achieve true justice among our fellow citizens. The question is not what programs we should seek to enact. The question is whether we can find in our own midst and in our own hearts that leadership of human purpose that will recognize the terrible truths of our existence.

We must admit the vanity of our false distinctions among men and learn to find our own advancement in the search for the advancement of all. We must admit in ourselves that our own children's future cannot be built on the misfortunes of others. We must recognize that this short life can neither be ennobled or enriched by hatred or revenge.

Our lives on this planet are too short and the work to be done too great to let this spirit flourish any longer in our land. Of course we cannot vanish it with a program, nor with a resolution.

But we can perhaps remember - even if only for a time - that those who live with us are our brothers, that they share with us the same short movement of life, that they seek - as we do - nothing but the chance to live out their lives in purpose and happiness, winning what satisfaction and fulfillment they can.

Surely this bond of common faith, this bond of common goal, can begin to teach us something. Surely we can learn, at least, to look at those around us as fellow men and surely we can begin to work a little harder to bind up the wounds among us and to become in our hearts brothers and countrymen once again.

- Robert F. Kennedy, April 5, 1968

Unity is the great need of the hour – the great need of this hour. Not because it sounds pleasant or because it makes us feel good, but because it’s the only way we can overcome the essential deficit that exists in this country.

I’m not talking about a budget deficit. I’m not talking about a trade deficit. I’m not talking about a deficit of good ideas or new plans.

I’m talking about a moral deficit. I’m talking about an empathy deficit. I’m taking about an inability to recognize ourselves in one another; to understand that we are our brother’s keeper; we are our sister’s keeper; that, in the words of Dr. King, we are all tied together in a single garment of destiny...

It’s not easy to stand in somebody else’s shoes. It’s not easy to see past our differences. We’ve all encountered this in our own lives. But what makes it even more difficult is that we have a politics in this country that seeks to drive us apart – that puts up walls between us.

We are told that those who differ from us on a few things are different from us on all things; that our problems are the fault of those who don’t think like us or look like us or come from where we do. The welfare queen is taking our tax money. The immigrant is taking our jobs. The believer condemns the non-believer as immoral, and the non-believer chides the believer as intolerant...

So let us say that on this day of all days, each of us carries with us the task of changing our hearts and minds. The division, the stereotypes, the scapegoating, the ease with which we blame our plight on others – all of this distracts us from the common challenges we face – war and poverty; injustice and inequality. We can no longer afford to build ourselves up by tearing someone else down. We can no longer afford to traffic in lies or fear or hate. It is the poison that we must purge from our politics; the wall that we must tear down before the hour grows too late.

Because if Dr. King could love his jailor; if he could call on the faithful who once sat where you do to forgive those who set dogs and fire hoses upon them, then surely we can look past what divides us in our time, and bind up our wounds, and erase the empathy deficit that exists in our hearts.

- Barack Obama, January 20, 2008

Armed with that reminder - I hope to stay focused on what's really important. And to enjoin the battle knowing where it is I want to go.


  1. Mo'nin, Ms. Pants

    Been havin' a REALLY good time, here, in Steam Boat Springs. And, as you always do, you continue to be part of how I start my day. It is parTICularly good - and re-affirming - that you've done this for us. These are rather odd days in which entirely too much focus is being placed on the clown show.

    Thank you for wrestling through the impact of all of this noise and posting two EXCELLENT examples of leaders who believed and still believe in who we, in fact, still are.

    As PBO has pointed out, their "debate" presentations can just be played verbatim. 'We can take out all of Iran's scientists and deny that we did it'. 'The ACLU is, in fact, running the CIA'.

    Oh, yes....this is VERY good to see today.

    It is, currently, gorgeously snowing here.

  2. Thanks so much for stopping in Blackman!

    Enjoy the snow and always remember...Yes WE can!

  3. I'm allergic to coffee, but this'll do;-)

  4. Thank you, Smartypants. Yours is the kind of thinking that reminds me that life does not have to be horribly toxic.
    Thank you for the beautiful oasis. I needed that!

  5. eveingeorgia - Thanks. I needed it too!