By staying in the present do we create a vision for our future?
Ebenezer Scrooge speaks this profound truth in Charles Dickens’ tale of redemption, “A Christmas Carol,” a story about changing our life in the present in order to be more kind in our future.
These are words that taught me — and hopefully all of us — a compelling lesson in many areas of life, including in our politics and a desire to heal a divided country.
Often we are told we must stay in the present in order to appreciate what is right in front of us and stay in a place of peace. Yes, this is true. Though what do we do about our past, and what do we plan or envision for our future? As we strive to be present, what responsibility do we have for decisions we made in the past? What do we do with harm we have suffered, harm others have suffered or harm we have caused?
By staying in the present, do we create a vision for the future we desire for ourselves or others? Do we make plans so that steps can be taken toward that future? Do we let a future we are hungry for influence what we do in the present?
The answer to all of these is yes, even if it is paradoxical. Truth is most often found in the paradox.
The story of one’s own journey through the past, present and future is not just a tale unveiling truth in a personal relationship, it is also a tale with a lesson for our country and its politics. Usually every revelatory insight we achieve at the micro level personally, has a window of truth to a macro level.
Maybe the best way to heal and repair the political divide in our country is not to focus our energy on what is happening in Washington, D.C., but to begin to heal and repair in our lives and communities. Many of us have seen relationships with family and friends damaged based on the candidates we or others supported. And in this present, especially in this holiday season, we all could begin to heal those rifts.
We each have shared joys and sorrows no matter who we voted for. Each of us have gone through loss, had common moments of happiness and have some link in deep values. Let us focus on those first. Of course, we shouldn’t forget what caused the divides or erase those, but if we find those things that bond our hearts and souls, we might begin to have a conversation that isn’t damaging.
And in that conversation, we could begin to fashion a future for our country through a shared vision. We could use a mutual vision of what we want our country to stand for, and what as a country are the values we all agree on to move forward in the present in a more harmonious way. Resolve that yes, there was a deep divide, and at some point we will need to delve into the differences, but to heal let us in the present with shared heartfelt connections, and begin to agree to a shared vision.
I am hopeful that President-elect Joe Biden, who campaigned on just this, and spoke on it throughout the last few years, will continue to emphasize what we have in common. Come Jan. 20, when he takes office, hopefully he will run the White House in this manner.
For those of us who speak from a place of faith, it seems this holiday can inspire us to see the divine in others, and like Dickens, we can all find a path of redemption for America. And then we each can carry the spirts of the Past, Present, and the Future in a manner that renews our country’s ideals, and gives us peace in our own lives.