I did not vote for Barack Obama. I just had far too many reservations about the man and his mystifying history. I’ll also admit to being a little dismayed by his quick assumption of the Lincoln persona. Like too much else, it seems unearned and facile. And, of course, the collaboration of Big Media provides continuing grounds for despair. I have no clue what water-boarding feels like, but it must be something like watching Doris Kearns Goodwin hold forth on NBC.
All that said, you can’t fail to appreciate how far our country has come in the area of civil rights. It’s been a long sad pilgrimage, and this Martin Luther King Day is quite a landmark. Tomorrow, the first African-American will assume the Presidency. I’m proud that I lived to be able to write that sentence. And I sincerely wish President Obama well.
How will he do?
Many people seem confident that, despite or perhaps because of the size of the problems facing him, he will be a great president. Others think he might stumble so badly that already his reelection is uncertain. To be sure, there’s a lot to consider and a lot to worry about.
Consider this: we don’t know. “Not knowing” can be a powerful thing. It can help apply the brakes to runaway anxiety. It can slow down the whole train of thought. It can help free the mind from its compulsive need to understand and control everything. Sometimes (I speak from experience) you don’t know how much you’re trying to do that until you try to stop.
“Don’t know mind” is a concept often associated with a Korean branch of Zen Buddhism, but it now commonly appears in the toolbox of other lineages. This, for instance, is a useful article by an American vipassana (mindfulness) teacher.
So, how will Obama do? When will the economy recover? When will everybody stop blaming everything on Bush and Cheney? When will the schools improve? Is Patterson really going to appoint Caroline Kennedy? Will there be another terrorist attack? Will there be a flu epidemic? Will all the honeybees die? Will all the polar ice melt? Will my dog ever stop eating garbage?
Short and sweet: don’t know.