Our Most Important Actions Have Consequences That We Will Not See: Like ripples in still water, they propagate outward in a limitless world.
February 7, 2023
4 min read
Bernie Sanders has dropped out of the presidential race. There are a lot of disappointed people, but there is no shame in his and their accomplishments.
Depending on where you stand, you may be bummed-out and disappointed, or gloating and smirking.
Both emotional responses, while understandable, are not so helpful.
Bernie has conducted two campaigns over the past five years. There are some teachable moments and lessons for us.
We can all strive to embody our beliefs. We can all live our daily lives with mythic aspects. Bernie Sanders is an example of a life lived guided by a personal pole star.
Bernie has changed the dialogue about the reasons for the government and its role in our lives. He is a champion of equality.
We will look back and see his work as an inflection point. It touched people with compelling arguments about fairness. He champions righting the damaging aspects of our system.
The current pandemic has highlighted the flaws in the U.S. healthcare system. Universal healthcare can keep us all safer and healthier.
As Noam Chomsky has said, Bernie Sanders’ campaign didn’t fail. It energized millions and shifted U.S. politics.
History, even if he doesn’t write it, will treat him kindly. As Martin Luther King said, the arc of the moral universe bends toward justice.
So what if he doesn’t become president. That is short-term thinking. Progress is long ball.
Alexander Hamilton didn’t get to be president. Neither did Benjamin Franklin. Both are on our money and inscribed in granite as influential political founders.
We remember them 250 years later, and will 250 years from now.
Bernie is like Moses. They lead the people but don’t get to inhabit the Promised Land. It is a heroic role.
His leaving the presidential bid is the act of a true leader. Being president isn’t always the be-all and end-all goal.
Bernie Sanders is a great senator, and we need his voice and consul in the Senate. As John McCain was a great senator and we were better for having him in the Senate.
John McCain also ran for president. By failing to become president, he was in the right place at the right time several times. His decisions were inflection points guided by high principles.
Sometimes aspiration can make us overreach, or we aim at the wrong target. It’s a good practice to take stock if our ladder up against the right wall.
It is human nature to aspire. Waiters want to act, and actors want to direct. Radio personalities want to be on T.V., and T.V. stars wish to star in movies.
Knowing where you best can contribute is a talent worth cultivating. Helping from where we are, with what we have, is paramount. Instead of thinking of every point as a transition to the next bigger thing, be here now.
When the Civil War ended at Appomattox, Robert E. Lee signed the surrender. He asked all his troops to lay down their weapons.
There was great fear that many bands of warriors would take to the hills and harass the Union for years to come. Guerrilla tactics would have been disastrous to the USA’s chances for stability.
His men obeyed his final order, and the healing began. Not perfect, but not sabotaged.
A similar task lies ahead for Bernie’s followers. Spite and disappointment can drive poor decisions. We can choose not to vote or weaponize our vote as an act of flipping the bird.
Or we can all unite and start the process of healing and creating a better America and world.
We can ask ourselves how our vision, advocacy, needs, and aspiration can best serve. We decide how to align ourselves and move forward.
The big takeaway for me is not to get caught up in the personal outcome but to love the process and ideals. Have a vision and stick to it. The end goal may not be the goal, after all. Follow because it guides you; it’s the polestar by which you navigate. What happens along the way and how it influences and affects people can be much more influential.
We all have this Mosaic (as in Moses-like) quality. We can’t enter the Promised Land created by our actions in support of our vision.
The consequences of our notions are not known to us. Like ripples in still water, they propagate outward in a limitless world.
Great deeds have very remote consequences.
We grope in fog. Our most important actions are the consequences that we will not see.
Someone is sitting in the shade because someone planted a tree fifty years ago. The best time to plant a tree is decades past. The second best time is now.
The future is uncertain. Our vision, as articulated and communicated via our actions, is hard to predict. A butterfly’s wing affects the weather. Tiny causes create large-scale effects.
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