Thursday, September 06, 2012

It'll Take Some Time . . .

When I was in my mid-twenties I had a wonderful opportunity to spend a few months in Japan.  A friend from college, a mime, was putting on a big show in a Tokyo theater and invited me to come work with his troupe.  (He said he needed my "American sense of humor!")  Shut up!  Pantomime didn't revolutionize the theatrical world as we knew it, but it provided a solid foundation for the success my friend Takeo has come to know and it pointed me into the ministry and out of the theatre.

But that's not what I want to write about.  This is actually a political post, as the image on the right no doubt has already made clear.  So why bring up the Japan thing?

Because while I was there I was able to experience a real shiatsu massage.  Takeo's partner, Yoshiko, was a shiatsu practitioner and one day she took on my already achy and creaky body.  When the session was over I asked her how long it would take for shiatsu to return my body to its intended level of health and vitality.  "Thirty or forty years!" was her response.  I was shocked.  She explained,

You're about twenty-five now, so it's taken you twenty-five years to get into this shape.  If you were to make a change today, to start doing all of the right things that you need to do and stop doing all of the bad things you've been doing, it'd take about the same amount of time to get you out of the shape you've gotten yourself into.  But you won't.  You won't make those changes right away or all at once.  And, so, for the first few years of the treatments you'll actually be continuing to make things worse.  So I think it'll take you thirty or forty years to completely reverse all of this.
Those aren't her exact words and, to be honest, all I can claim is that this is how I remember the conversation to have gone.  But regardless of the veracity of this account, the point of the story seems an important one -- when it's taken you a while to get into trouble, it's probably going to take you a while to get out of it.

As I remember the 2008 Presidential campaign, lots of people put all sorts of expectations on candidate Obama.  There were folks who seemed close to deifying him; certainly he was held up by some as some kind of savior.  Yet he, himself, kept saying that things were pretty tough economically and that no one should expect quick fixes.

And while there are those who keep maintaining (falsely) that President Obama enjoyed full control of both houses of Congress at first, the truth is that his policies were fought every step of the way.  He asked for collaboration and received (largely) confrontation.  Who can forget the comment made by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, while peaking with National Journal magazine about Republican Party priorities for the 2008-2010 Congress, that "the single most important thing we
want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president." 

So President Obama inherited a very hurt and aching "body politic."  It had taken at least eight years -- but more, really -- to get into this shape.  If everything were focused on becoming more healthful one could expect, then, that it'd take at least eight year -- and possibly more -- for it to turn around.  Yet it should be clear that during these first three-and-a-half years there has been a willful intention to continue on with unhealthy behaviors, a strident effort to avoid making necessary changes.  How much longer, then, would a full recovery be expected to take.

I believe -- indeed, I find that I have to believe -- that neither the Right nor the Left are "evil."  When I hear, as I do, both sides using virtually the same words and images to demonize the other, and attributing to one another almost exactly the same vices, I tend to disbelieve both.  While, certainly, there are individuals involved in politics today whom I would look at with grave suspicion, on the whole I believe that both major parties (and even their more fringy off-shoots) really do have the best interest of the country at heart.  They just fundamentally differ on how they see the world and, therefore, on what they feel needs to be done.

Yet no one should argue that President Obama has "failed" during his Presidency.  He promised us that things would be hard and that it would take time to make things right again.  He has kept that promise.  And even with the difficulty of the challenge, and the vehemence of the opposition, things have been, and continue to be, improving.  Not quickly.  Not as fast as we would like.  But perhaps as fast as they possibly can.  Surprisingly fast, actually, if you think about it from the point of view of my shiatsu story.

So . . . for this reason -- among many, many others -- I, too, want to give President Obama another term  to try to complete the work he has begun.  And I'd love to see a Congress that will actually work with him for the good of us all.

In Gassho,

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1 comment:

Pete Armetta said...

Bravo and no kidding right? How in the world could ANYONE clean up the mess that took years to create in just four years? I'll give him another four too!

I love my shiatsu, it's been a long time! Oh, to have a personal shiatsu masseuse on staff here!