Editor’s Note: This article was written in March 2010 but its general message continues to be relevant today…..
Today we look at President Obama’s first year in office, the debate over reaching across the aisle, the chiding I took from a children’s book and the metaphysical meaning of time. Sometimes I like to go in strange directions.
Chiding from a Children’s Book
We all have these weird moments that stay with us all of our lives. One of those moments for me was when I was in college. I liked to frequent this small, eclectic bookstore in the “hippie area” of town. It was run by this old man with a long gray beard named Gene, who somehow in my youthful mind, represented wisdom.
One day, as I entered the store and looked around, Gene asked me if I needed any help. I replied, “No thanks, I’m just killing time.”
Gene looked at me over his glasses and in a booming voice said, “Killing time? Isn’t it bad enough that we waste it? Must we kill it too?”
I must’ve looked a little sheepish, because the bookkeeper went on to explain that he was quoting a line from a children’s book. That moment and that quote have always stayed with me. It led me into pondering the meaning of time, and how we use language in relation to time. Can we really “kill time”? Is there really anything such as “wasting time? What really is time? Or as Chicago said, “does anybody really know what time it is?”
President Obama’s Efforts to Reach Out
Last night I was watching some political pundits on television discussing Obama’s first year in office. They were expressing concern over his inability to push through any healthcare legislation. After all, they said he came into office with a mandate for change, the Democrats controlled both houses of Congress as well as the presidency…why didn’t he just propose legislation and get it passed?
Much has been written in the media about the reasons that Obama did not take this tack. Reasons include the wide variety of opinions on the bill within the Democratic Party and the difficulty in getting them all on the same page. In addition, there has been a lot of coverage also about the need for the Democrats to have a super majority of 60 votes in the Senate in order to get a bill through. Yet in spite of these apparent roadblocks facing the president, most pundits seem to believe that the Democrats could have crafted a bill that would have met muster within their own party, worked around the filibuster in the Senate and passed some kind of legislation.
Those I saw on television last night made this point and went on to say that the president lost a lot of political capital by not getting the health care bill passed. There seemed to be a consensus that he “wasted” a whole year of his presidency.
It was felt that the reason he didn’t take this approach is because he tried to reach out across the aisle to the Republicans, as well as to all of the healthcare stakeholders to bring them on board with any legislation. The commentators acknowledged that Obama came into office with the desire to change partisan politics “as normal” as exhibited by creating his “team of rivals” on his cabinet, much like Lincoln had done. Yes, Obama had tried to get consensus, but in the 2020 hindsight that political announcers often exhibit, they agreed he had wasted time. In their opinion, the president was now realizing that he was never going to get a consensus and he needed to move forward now without it. Their attitude was like “duh, he should’ve known that from the start.”
So did the president really “waste” a year?
One could write a whole book on this subject of the meaning and experience of time (in fact, many have). I just want to outline a couple of key concepts from my current understanding about how we look at time that I believe are pertinent here.
First, much is written about “the power of now” or “the eternal now.” Metaphysically speaking, there is only this current moment with the future and the past being constructs of the mind. Hence we are encouraged to live in the present moment, letting go of our concern over what may have happened in the past and any worries about what might happen in the future. We are told it is our thoughts and actions right now that create our life and that all of life is happening in this present moment.
Yet, what about this stream of time in which we appear to be immersed? If there is only the present moment, why do we have memories of the past or concern herself with plans for the future? Why do we have this sense of time marching on? Mystics and spiritual teachers have offered that the purpose of time (as well as the sense of space) is a divine illusion that was created in order for us to experience a sense of separation, a sense of free will choice, and all other third dimensional life experiences. If the Unity of the One did not create the appearance of the multiplicity of time and space, then we would not have the playground for our life experiences.
Time and space give Spirit, through its incarnations in each of us, the ability to live our lives, make choices, learn, grow and evolve. Seen from the spiritual level, time is a gift given to us that allows us to stretch out this one true moment so that we can experience the infinite variety of life. Ultimately as we have this experience we are called in our choices and actions to move in the direction so that we return to Spirit….that is, we ultimately will remember our Source. Free will allows us to veer from away from our return, but some force within us generally moves us back to Oneness. This evolutionary force tends to direct us to higher degrees of both complexity and cooperation. Seen from this perspective, there is no way we can “waste time” or” kill time.” Such ideas come from a human sense that there is a limited amount of time, that a clock is ticking and we need to get busy right now. The reality is we have all the time we need to experience the fullness of life and make our journey home.
At the human level, the desire to be efficient and effective in our use of time can be beneficial. Yet like most things in the physical world, we can get seduced by them. We can get so wrapped up in our sense of human time, that we forget about the vastness of spiritual time. When we can step above our human view of time and see things from a spiritual perspective, we can see that what at the human level appears to be wasting time or killing time is really a time when deeper things are happening.
Most of us have had the experience in our life where we appeared to be stuck and going nowhere… at least that’s how it felt at the time… but it’s only later in life when we have distanced ourselves by the passage of time and the shifting of our perspective that we can see how we truly were growing. We may have felt like we were killing time while in fact, we were going through a necessary step in our unfoldment. The caterpillar must “waste time” in its cocoon, before it can blossom to the butterfly. The seed appears to be wasting time as it readies itself to burst open.
Planting Seeds in the Political Process
So did the president really “waste” a year?
Seen from the human level with a desire to put in place healthcare legislation immediately, one might believe, as the television pundits did, that time and political capital was “wasted”. There certainly is a part of me that feels it is a moral imperative that our country provide healthcare for everyone now. Every day we delay, more people suffer.
But there’s another way we can look at this. Our country is facing another moral dilemma. This is one of the excessive divisiveness and overly partisan behavior that has kept Congress from addressing major issues facing our country. In my opinion, this is the greatest challenge facing our leadership right now. Healthcare is one of many issues which Congress and the president need to face. If they don’t rise up above partisan behavior on healthcare, how can we expect any real solutions on our financial crisis, global warming, overpopulation, wars around the world, or any of the seemingly overwhelming matters facing the planet?
Yes, I wish that Obama’s efforts to bring people together in a bipartisan manner would’ve lead to meaningful healthcare legislation. But I continue to be an optimist. I believe that in spite of the lack of our leadership coming together on this issue now, seeds were planted. It may appear to our human eyes, that nothing is happening. However, I believe the effort and the dialogue has served a useful purpose. More people are beginning to look at our leadership and seek to hold them accountable for solving all of our problems, not just healthcare, in a manner that transcends partisan politics.
I trust that as we look back on this time, after we have distanced ourselves from it by the passage of time and the shifting of our perspective, that we will realize that seeds have been planted that will one day burst open and reveal our new expression. Humanity, through the process of evolution, is being called to a higher level of cooperation. From that higher perspective we will realize that there is no true wasting or killing time. There is really only our human experience of time as we unfold into the highest possibilities of who we can be as a people on our return back to Oneness.
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!