When President Obama was still on the campaign trail in October 2008, he said at the Al E. Smith dinner hosting both candidates: “Contrary to the rumors you’ve heard, I was not born in a manger. I was actually born on Krypton, sent here by my father Jor-El, to save the planet Earth.”
Of course his remark was a joke, in keeping with the Al E. Smith political roast tradition. It seems, though, that many who previously supported him and helped vote him into office, did indeed see him as a 'saviour'--this in spite of his statement, repeated throughout his campaign: "We are the people we've been waiting for. We are the change we seek." In a similar vein, he said: "I ask you to believe in your own capacity to effect change as well as my own," and: "Together we will heal this nation and transform the world."
Shortly after he was elected, an online acquaintance observed: "I can see people getting pissed and fed up if Obama fails to make the miracles people expect of him.
People nowadays have the patience of a 50-minute sitcom. If they don't get instant results, they give up. I see it every day in my divorce law practice." His words were prophetic. Reading the invective in some of the articles attacking him, I can't avoid the feeling that their authors' expectations of Obama are unrealistic. Of course, there is the mess Obama inherited when he took office, and the fact that Presidents are constrained in their power to implement agendas, even those they themselves would prefer. But over and above these concerns, the expectation of a perfect president or 'savior' of any kind is rooted in a denial of one's own power and responsibility. Then those denied characteristics are projected onto others, who inevitably disappoint. Most of us are still stuck in the concept that someone other than ourselves is responsible for our current state of being. So when elected officials such as Obama don't "make the grade" in our view, we feel angry and let down.
In Robert Fritz's book, The Path of Least Resistance, he proposes "fundamental choice" as the basis of our experience. He gives the example of making the choice to be a smoker or a nonsmoker. Without making the fundamental choice to quit smoking, we won't succeed in doing so. Fritz calls this the "reactive/responsive" orientation, wherein we abdicate responsibility and create by default, instead of moving confidently in the direction of our dreams, living the life we have imagined (to paraphrase Thoreau). In this state, we are not in touch with our own creative power, and so we default on that power, putting trust in others or in circumstances rather than in the self.
In the orientation of the creative, it's the other way around--trust is put in the creative powers of the self primarily. We become self-directed, consciously choosing what we want in life.
Now is the time, more than ever, to exercise our choice-making and visionary capacities. Each one who holds the vision of positive change--even, or especially, in difficult times--empowers that vision and possibility.
Carlos Barrios, a Mayan elder, has spoken of his vision in the context of discussing the years leading up to 2012--a year which many, including his ancestors, have pinpointed as a crucial turning point in our evolution. In the October 2002 issue of the Chiron Communique, he called for us to "put our entire heart into unity and fusion now." This makes possible the transcendence of our differences: "No more darkness and light in the people, but an uplifted fusion." He concludes that the greatest wisdom is in simplicity: "Love, respect, tolerance, sharing, gratitude, forgiveness. It’s not complex or elaborate. The real knowledge is free...all you need is within you. Great teachers have said that from the beginning. Find your heart, and you will find your way."
Each of us can make the heart-centered choice for this world-vision of peace, unity and fusion--a new era of cooperation rather than conflict, equally serving both the self and others--and we all can make a real difference and help to manifest that vision, simply by going within, experiencing our wholeness, and expressing that in our here-and-now, day-to-day lives.
As Krishnamurti taught: "You are the world...You are the observer and the observed, the analyzer and the thing analyzed." And, physicist John Wheeler: "There's no 'out there' out there." Thus, we are our governments, which ultimately are only a reflection of our perception. This is in line with the whole concept of "you create your own reality," which can also be understood as "what you put out is what you get back." It comes down to our beliefs, thoughts and feelings primarily, which we see reflected in the world around us. When we understand this at a gut level, not just intellectually, it is a whole new paradigm shift for many--from being other-directed to inner-directed.
I would perhaps rephrase Krishnamurti: "You are your world." Dr. Ihaleakala Hew Len cured a ward of criminally insane patients by, as he said, "healing the part of me that created them." So is he a savior? I see him more as an example to inspire us and show us what is possible when we make such a shift.
In short, our leaders, the state of the union, and of the world, can only reflect
our inner state, individually and collectively. As an example, we may rail against war, but have we ended our own inner and outer wars, our blaming, our desire to quash an opponent? Are we willing to listen, cooperate, and take responsibility? Is our focus on loving peace or on hating war? We need to be conscious of the energies we are putting out into the world--for they will surely come back to us. As a small but wise being said: "We have seen the enemy and he is us."
Obama's Inaugural Address may be up for class review.
Here are a few relevant selections:
"...as much as government can do and must do, it is ultimately the faith and determination of the American people upon which this nation relies."
"That we are in the midst of crisis is well understood. Our nation is at war, against a far-reaching network of violence and hatred. Our economy is badly weakened, a consequence of greed and irresponsibility on the part of some, but also our collective failure to make hard choices and prepare the nation for a new age." (Emphasis mine.)
"We remain a young nation, but in the words of Scripture, the time has come to set aside childish things."
Faith--determination--making fundamental choices (I think that's what is meant by "hard" choices). Accepting our spiritual maturity--understanding that, as the science of the quantum has shown, we are the creative source of our lives and our world. Taking responsibility, rather than pointing the finger of blame. That's what I'm talking about!
I can't help wondering how Obama feels about the sometimes vituperative criticism directed at him. I suspect he can relate to the words of his chosen Presidential role model, Lincoln:
"If I were to try to read, much less answer, all the attacks made on me, this shop might as well be closed for any other business. I do the very best I know how - the very best I can; and I mean to keep doing so until the end. If the end brings me out all right, what's said against me won't amount to anything. If the end brings me out wrong, ten angels swearing I was right would make no difference."
Obama has found inspiration in Lincoln's 1862 message to Congress:
"The dogmas of the quiet past are inadequate to the stormy present. The occasion is piled high with difficulty, and we must rise with the occasion. As our case is new, so we must think anew and act anew. We must disenthrall ourselves and then we shall save our country."
Similarly, Obama said, when he introduced the members of his economic team: "This isn't about big government or small government. It's about building a smarter government that focuses on what works. That's why I will ask my team to think anew and act anew to meet our new challenges."
Lincoln's words are also echoed in this from Obama's Inaugural Address:
"On this day, we come to proclaim an end to the petty grievances and false promises, the recriminations and worn-out dogmas that for far too long have strangled our politics."
It seems, however, that Obama's team-mates--and that includes "we the people" as well as his consultants--haven't been up to the challenge of true change. Paradoxically, perhaps we've been trying too hard. It's not the American way in general, but there are times when the best action is inward and reflective, providing the space for new insights, rather than straining and striving to effect outer change. In any case, our vision of change has to come from within us. No one else can hand it to us. It is "time to put away childish things"--and time for us to become our own leaders.
My interest was caught by the word "disenthrall" in the line, "We must disenthrall ourselves," from Lincoln's message to Congress. I had never heard nor read it previously. In fact, I had to look it up. Merriam-Webster's definition:"to free from bondage, liberate." And, the Answers.com dictionary defines it as, "to free from a controlling force or influence." Lincoln was saying we must free ourselves, and then we would save our country.
What is that controlling force or influence? I would say it's the tendency for our thinking to stay firmly in the box of mainstream consciousness, wherein dreams and imagination are at the bottom of our priorities.
We need to get back in touch with the natural world, and with our own nature. We need to regain what Wordsworth called our "visionary gleam"--our dreams for ourselves and the world, our Godhood, our intuition. Therein lies our salvation and our freedom.
Our founding fathers designed the template of freedom and equality as the direction
for our country. They proposed that this was our right. As President, Lincoln ended the practice of slavery and made freedom a law, with the objective of unifying the country. But he understood that we could not be truly free, nor experience true change, until we individually choose that freedom and make it a reality for ourselves--thinking and acting in new ways.
And perhaps this is what Obama meant also in the concluding words of his Inaugural Address: "Let it be said by our children's children that when we were tested we refused to let this journey end, that we did not turn back nor did we falter; and with eyes fixed on the horizon and God's grace upon us, we carried forth that great gift of freedom and delivered it safely to future generations."
As I hope is clear by now, this essay is less about Obama (or any other person upon whom we project our own authority) than it is about our willingness to disenthrall ourselves--breaking the bonds of our fears and self-imposed limitations. In so doing, we plant the seeds of ever-expanding freedom and positive change for future generations. We become visionary creators, rather than waiting for someone else to create for us. We are indeed the pioneers, if we accept that role. We are the saviors we've been waiting for.