Let's Take a Breath...

01/01/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

... everyone. He's not even in the Oval Office yet. The media are running around like a bunch of chickens, clucking wildly about those things they don't know and those things they do. They need to replace their election drama, I suppose, with some post-election, pre-inauguration drama. It's about the ratings. Meanwhile, the new rooster in the yard continues to play it cool, careful not to crow, and saying nothing when he has nothing to say. I admire his restraint. I admire his smarts. I admire his refusal to be flustered. Once in a while, I find myself in complete agreement with conservative columnist David Brooks in the New York Times. Last Friday was one of those occasions. I started out thinking he was going to be a smart-ass, but he surprised me. His column is worth a read.

Joe Lieberman? I understand that the liberal blogosphere -- I don't find a great deal to interest me there, since I gave up on The Bush Diaries a couple of years ago -- is up in arms about his rehabilitation. It's said that the Democrats are caving in again. I myself have no great affection for Joe Lieberman, and I agree that he said some pretty ugly things during the campaign. But I still believe that it's possible to be bigger than the offender, and that you always come out ahead when you manage to get past the offense. To get back to good Buddhist principles -- or even Christian principles, or even just plain common sense -- for me to hold a grudge and nurse resentment does me a great deal more harm than it does the one I'm trying to punish. That goes for political parties, too. I also believe that Obama was wise to stay aloof from that particular battle and leave others to fight it out.

Change? Our clucking feathered friends in the media are making another purse out of the proverbial pig's ear -- to keep things in the barnyard. They're fretting over whether Obama's choices for staff and cabinet represent the "change" he promised. His picks are too, well, establishment, too Washington, too... smart, perhaps? In other words, the people have education and experience. Do they -- Obama's critics -- somehow imagine that to fulfill his promise he needs to bring in people who've never seen the inside of government? Absurd. The change we demanded is better, more humane policies, a proper regard for the Constitution, a new attitude toward the world around us -- not to mention greater efficiency. The change I wanted was a change of mind, an ability to listen attentively and weigh up alternative possibilities, a move away from the ideology and partisanship that have poisoned our political and social system. I want the best people available to achieve this, even if I happen to have seen their face before. Even if I don't particularly like or agree with them.

So that's my plea. Let's all be a bit more Buddhist. Let's take a breath. Let's watch how things develop -- not uncritically, not without the benefit of thoughtful, wise discrimination, but with a measure of equanimity and balance, a measure of detachment, a measure of goodwill and a preparedness to sacrifice some part of our own petty interests to the common good. Let's watch our words, to be sure they reflect a fitting measure of moderation and kindness. I understand that moderation and kindness are easily sneered at in a world where radical change is desperately needed, but I persist in believing that they are more likely to lead us to our goals than bitterness and intransigence.

We spent a long time making our choice, as a country. The best way forward is not to lose our heads and allow ourselves to be so easily manipulated by small egos that have been absurdly and unjustifiably inflated. Let's all take a breath...