Editor’s Note: This article was written in April 2010 but its message continues to be relevant today…..

A couple of days ago, New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman and author of many best sellers such as “Hot Flat And Crowded“, wrote an opinion piece entitled  “Who’s Up for Building Bridges?”  I briefly commented on it on my Facebook and Twitter accounts, but felt compelled to give it a little more attention today.  You might want to click the link and read the article.

I generally enjoy reading Friedman and appreciate the fact that he tends to focus on the future and offer suggestions on how to improve it.  Since my intention on this website is in “bridging us” to a positive future, I appreciate Freeman’s efforts and obviously resonate with his article’s title.

The gist of Friedman’s piece is that the Republicans and the Democrats have put the book ends on policies they began last century… the Republicans with George W. Bush completing the policy of tax cuts and deregulation started under Reagan… the Democrats with Obama, completing with the recent health care legislation the New Deal entitlements started under Roosevelt … and he adds that neither direction is serving us as we move further into the 21st century.  He goes on to suggest that Obama at least has a plan and is moving us forward into the new global economy while the Republicans are following a “just say no policy”.

You may or may not agree with Friedman’s points, his politics or his economics.  I’m not here to debate any of that, but rather to call attention to what I see as the most important point of his opinion piece.  Where is our attention focused? And I ask you to consider in your response to reading him–where is your attention focused?

Ultimately Friedman is calling us to focus on the future.  What is the plan and what are the steps to take our country into the highest vision of our future?

No doubt many who read Friedman’s article will be stuck in the past and miss the point.  Some Republicans and Democrats may disagree with his categorization of their party’s policies. Some people may focus solely on his categorization of the tea party as being unfair or inaccurate.  Some people may focus on certain “economic experts”  and their opinions as a reason to dismiss Friedman.

If you fall into any of these camps, then I strongly urge you to suspend your judgment for a moment and consider the following…the world and America are facing some of its greatest challenges — the economy, the wars, the national debt, climate change, growing world population with its increasing demands on limited resources and more.  Sometimes these challenges seem overwhelming.  Yet I am optimistic we can solve them.

But…we are at a crossroads.  We have a choice to make.

One path focuses on the past and our differences.  It seeks for one group to win and get its way even if others lose.  It spends its energy arguing over who is right and who is wrong. Sometimes it appears the people on this path would rather we all lose than to give in on their position.

The other path focuses on our future and our similarities.  It seeks solutions where everyone can win.  It focuses its energy in the direction we need to go.

I have written here numerous times about this choice point.  The challenges we currently face call for us to transcend our past and our differences.  Yes, let us learn from the past, but let us not live there.  All of us, no matter what our political persuasion, religious beliefs, or other human labels we place upon ourselves, must rise up above these apparent differences and focus our attention and energy on that which we hold in common — our humanity.

We are called in this moment to expand our horizons… to raise our eyes to the highest possibilities for America and the world… to use our consciousness and our actions to move us to a positive future — one that works for everyone.

Where is your attention focused?

Mark

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Check out all of Mark Gilbert’s books—available at Amazon. Click here to visit his Author Page. This includes his recent one Our Spiritual Rights and Responsibilities. In this book, he offers what he suggests are the 5 basic rights we all possess by virtue of our being these spiritual beings on planet Earth — and our 2 responsibilities we all hold in relation to one another! Check it out!