A Farewell to President Obama and What is Great about America

January 18th, 2017

Farewell to President Obama

My wife and I were talking this past weekend about our daughter’s birthday coming up when it suddenly dawned on me that the Obama Presidency is coming to an end. “Hard to believe” I told my wife… “It feels like late January already”… “Yes, time flies when we are having fun” she remarked.

At some point I became nostalgic of the Obama years. So much happened in our lives during the past eight years, with news about the President seemingly always in the background. I was reminded of all the criticism and sharp questions I heard. The political opposition seemed to blame just about everything on the President, and students of metaphysics seemed concerned about the changes to what makes America great.  

I thought of recording a few comments and sending to students only. Then it occurred to me to make some notes first, and eventually the video was born. These remarks are not intended as a rigorous historical account of events or of conditions in Europe before America was established, but the general tone of the video is largely correct.

The message I wanted to convey to students was one of forgiveness, which is based on refraining from judgment, and gratitude, which are both keys to happiness.

Here are the notes in case you prefer to read them. The video can be seen here: https://youtu.be/jnac4XGpRQE

 

  • Because of our position as a therapist and professor people often ask our opinion on a number of topics, such as in this case, president Obama and his Presidency
  • We do not think it would be appropriate to judge the President, or any of his decisions really, because we are not aware of all of the information and details available to the President when each decision was made 
  • We often feel that others make mistakes or do bad things; but when we take the time to examine all the information available to that person at the time the decision was made, we are often surprised to discover, even if only within the privacy of our minds, that, given the exact same scenario, we would not have been as effective as the person we so eagerly judged 
  • I admire Secretary of Defense Robert Gates not only for his many accomplishments but also for the person he is. To me Secretary Gates comes across as a highly effective professional with a conscience and a heart. Secretary Gates provides a unique insight into the Obama presidency and the person of the President himself in his book Duty. Reading Duty I was sensitized by the feeling that President Obama is a good man, who means well, and does want what he honestly feels is best for the country 
  • It is within human nature to inquire into what is best for the country, and disagreements are inevitable. One angle seldom explored is whether the country as whole is serving the spiritual purpose for which it was founded
  • The notion that the United States and all other countries exist for a spiritual purpose surprises some folks, but a country is nothing more than a venue through which a group of souls can evolve spiritually. Over time, countries that no longer fulfill the evolutionary needs of the souls therein incarnated cease to exist, and indeed new countries flourish in their places
  • There are many ways of understanding the purpose for which the United States of America was founded, but we can begin by asking what most people refer to when they speak of the Great American Experiment 
  • Considerer what life was like in Europe in the 16th, 17th and 18th Had you not been born to royalty, would you have had a chance to even learn to read? Would you have had your most basic needs, such as food and shelter met? Had you been killed in the streets, would anyone have cared? Would your life have mattered? What chances would your babies have had of surviving past the first year? Would you have participated at all in the organization of your community? 
  • Before the United States existed, and for most of human history, there were two classes of people: royalty and peasants. While those born into royalty often squandered wealth and lived in extreme luxury, peasants lived on the edge of physical survival. But this exaggerated difference in economic status was not the problem that the Great American Experiment attempts to solve. You see, royalty produced nothing; peasants grew, transported and prepared food. Peasants built, cleaned, operated and maintained the lavish palaces for royalty to enjoy. In essence, peasants produced and royalty managed. This social structure survived for millennia, and still survives in some areas, because one idea permeated all of society: that God himself had ordained monarchies to rule over people who could not rule themselves. 
  • Even if it had been true that people just could not rule themselves at some point in time, requiring a ruling class to control their lives, over time this arrangement became abusive. Now one class had become lazy and confortable, literally over the backs of the many. So now, management, government, no longer had to do with the will of the people, with what was good for the people, instead now royalty’s main concern was its preservation and the prevention of revolts, which result when people think and desire to grow 
  • Historians tell us that the main reason every attempt to colonize America before Jamestown and Plymouth Rock failed miserably was because “rulers” would come from Europe intending to manage the few people they could bring, but simply refused to work. That was the prevailing attitude at the time this great American experiment was being launched 
  • The need to work, and differences in economic status between royalty and peasantry were not the propelling forces behind the American ideal: the ability to control our destiny was what fueled the Revolution and has defined the American Spirit since the beginning… in other words: freedom 
  • In order to potentiate a group of people, known as Americans, into freedom, the freedom to pursue their happiness, a government was established. This government began not by outlining people’s duties towards the state but instead outlining the limits of government intrusion into people’s lives. Truly a government for the people by the people. A land where a middle class is not only possible but actually has the opportunity to evolve 
  • It is true that a reasonably high standard of living is needed for spiritual growth, since there is nothing spiritual about misery. Furthermore, as Dr. Abraham Maslow eloquently explained, people need their basic needs met before they can really work on their self-actualization, their spiritual growth. So America was created to be a land where basic needs could be met in less than one third of one’s day, leaving a day for the Lord. This requires a good economy and certainly hard work from all. Affluence and the ability to generate wealth is what make America the land of opportunity, but opportunity for what? In Dr. Maslow’s terms, opportunity for self-actualization; opportunity for spiritual inquiry and growth; opportunity to design and pursue one’s own destiny and happiness. The opportunity to generate enough to be able to share with those in need 
  • Considering that how we treat one another is the best gage of spiritual growth, we can use levels of social, racial, political and economic tension as a measure of the nation’s fulfillment of the purpose for which it was founded 
  • If war, famine and suffering are decreasing, the country is fulfilling its purpose. If the people feel that they are growing, if the people feel that they are achieving more, becoming more, and most importantly, giving more, then for sure the country is fulfilling its mission. 
  • On the other hand sometimes a nation needs changes in circumstances in order to appreciate its own merits. Never before the idea of a government by the people for the people had been proposed or attempted. A government by the people for the people gives us the best opportunity to pursue our happiness, our self-actualization, our spiritual ideals 
  • As President Kennedy famously said, let’s not ask what our country can do for us; let’s ask what we can do for our country. Let us not ask what presidents can do for us; let us ask what we can do for ourselves, for our families and for one another. Let us not ask whether a departing president has been good or bad; let us thank that person for his service and sacrifices. 
  • Let us rejoice in the fact that we are all part of the Greatest Experiment in history; we have the opportunity to assemble, to communicate, to learn from one another. We have the opportunity to explore our own nature, and develop our own destiny. We have the opportunity to pursue our happiness, and we have the ability to be generous with others. We are Americans yes, but we are human beings, all created equal, all on this Earth to live love and learn.

 

  • God bless us all
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