When President Obama recently gave a lecture in honor of Nelson Mandela it was filled with so much value that it was hard to take it all in. It was like a banquet filled with nutritious foods. Although I have now listened to it several times it is taking a lot of time for me to digest all that he said.
Everything he talked about was connected to everything else he talked about and many things stood out but one thing he talked about is standing out to me at this moment. He spoke of how he could work with anyone in order to find solutions to our problems as long as they are dealing in an evidence based factual world. This of course would eliminate a large swath of people but if the remaining people are willing to confront reality he said he can work with them to find solutions.
President Obama spent a lot of the lecture explaining history and how we got to where we are today and of course it is impossible to go forward and find solutions if we do not see how we arrived at where we find ourselves today. We can’t find solutions for the future if we are not clear about what the causes are that created what we are presently experiencing and of course we also have to agree upon what we are in fact presently experiencing.
If it is raining people may have a different perception of exactly how heavy the rain is but there would need to be an agreement that it is in fact raining. It would also be necessary that even if I personally was not present where it was raining that I could still acknowledge that rain did actually happen. Without a shared sense of reality we would have no shared basis of what would be needed going forward because everyone would have a completely different perception of what was taking place.
President Obama has always been someone who has looked at history and seen and understood how history got us to where we are today. He would look at where we are today and assess what would be needed going forward. He would then implemented a plan for the steps that would be needed to enable change. This isn’t rocket science. Or maybe it is. Maybe it is rational thinking. Maybe it is the same rational thinking that a scientist would use. Maybe rational thinking actually works in the actual world and it is exactly what is needed in order to progress.
This seems so simple and obvious and yet a vast number of people have no use for rational thinking and behavior. A lot of people want to replace evidence based thinking with imaginary things. Facing reality would require them to end their illusions. There are people who don’t want things to change but change is what all living things do. Attempting to cling to the past would be like an attempt to live in a toxic waste dump. The past is in a state of decay and just as you would never put rotten food on the dinner table attempting to remain in the past is as if you were doing exactly that. Change is inevitable so change is not what is in question but the nature of the change is what is in question.
In his lecture President Obama laid down the gauntlet. He presented a case for our future just as he did when he first ran for president. When he first ran for president the ideas he presented were ideas that were appropriate and specific to that moment in time. In the vision he laid out in this lecture the ideas he presented were appropriate for our present moment. He made clear the decisions we face. If we want to continue in the direction we are heading history can illuminate what will likely happen. If we want to deal in an evidence based world then history also is able to instruct us as to what is likely to happen.
If we continue down the path we are heading we will be heading down a path of self destruction. If we chose to live and function in an evidence based world we will have the opportunity to evolve and to experience the changes that will set us on the path to real justice that can grow out of examining our past and using that information instructively. If we are willing to understand how history brought us to where we are today we would have an opportunity going forward to heal the wounds of the past.
President Obama saying that he could work with anyone who is willing to function in an evidence based world would mean that whoever would be willing to work with him would be unable to be extreme. They would have to be much more alike in their thinking than they are different. This would ensure that whatever solutions they would find would be additive. The solutions would necessary enrich the outcome because there would be a great diversity of people who are evidence based who would be promoting a diversity of solutions working to the same end.
A lot of people were upset with President Obama because they thought he was not progressive enough. Clearly they don’t understand how progress takes place. If I want to get from here to there it is necessary to begin to take steps that move me in the direction I want to go. People who crave immediate gratification may not be happy with this but this is how progress has always happened, step by step. Each step is like a drop of water in a bucket and at a certain point the bucket becomes full and it overflows and change has taken place. It is a structure that is built brick by brick. It’s not rocket science.
Once again President Obama gave a lecture that was filled with nutritional value. Those who were present seemed hungry for what he presented. It is clear that there is a hunger in this country and throughout the world for what he presented. This is not about right or left and it is not about blue states or red states. This is about how to bring about a united people. This is how to become the united states of America.
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