It is human nature to find new opportunities and a new start to replace bad habits or make up for the lack of accomplishments. This desire to do better originates from the emotion-like quality called hope. Hope helps us to not give up on life but to move forward and do things that will improve our lives.
For many people, the start of the New Year gives us hope to make positive changes in our lives. At this time of the year, many people begin thinking about the ritualistic New Year’s resolution. Their resolution may involve doing things to improve their health (stop smoking, consume less alcohol, lose weight, and exercise on a regular basis); their finances (find a better job and work harder to get a promotion); and their personal relationships (stop gossiping, be a little bit more tolerant, and be more understanding). While these are all good things to do, the downside to New Year’s resolutions is that after a month or so of trying, most people fall back into their old habits.
On the broader stage of life, where other people in authority make decisions that affect the lives of many people, the hope is that these people will make their New Year’s resolution to do better and to not negatively impact the lives of people. The GOP, for example, falls into this category. During 2013, they embarked on a strategy designed to obstruct or derail President Obama’s agenda. The government shutdown and the effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) are just some of the examples of the GOP’s obstructionist tactics. All of this, however, does not imply that the president is blameless with respect to some policy issues and the rollout of the health care website.
Throughout the president’s first term and currently into his second term, the GOP and the right wing media has relentlessly tried to make the president look incompetent and weak. They have undermined Obamacare and instead of offering constructive ideas or criticisms to make it better, they recited their mantra, “it is a mess,” “it is a train wreck,” “we will repeal it,” and “it is unconstitutional.” They have spent an enormous amount of time criticizing the Obamacare website without realizing that a big enterprise website like this will inherently have glitches. Of course, it is easier to criticize a technological component like the website than to criticize the policies of Obamacare. To criticize the policies of Obamacare would require the GOP to have an alternative plan, and they don’t seem to have one.
So what is the GOP going to do in 2014? Continue to obstruct the president’s agenda and in the process deny Americans jobs and health care? This is where I am hoping the GOP leadership will step back and evaluate their actions and effort over the past year to obstruct the president’s policies. It would certainly be good for the country if they stop this unprincipled strategy and discourage the baseless conspiracy theories and the propaganda about his place of birth, his religion, and all the personal attacks.
The GOP and right wing media should realize by now that their effort to destroy President Obama has not worked and at this stage is not likely to work. If they have succeeded in anything at all, it is in preventing the country from making the economic recovery it should be making. Americans should not have to endure another year of obstructionist tactics from the GOP and the trash talking to undermine his presidency. Therefore, the GOP leadership needs to start the New Year in a positive step. Speaker Boehner can do this by starting to demonstrate a good faith effort of working with the president to make America a stronger and better country.
In my book, Whom God has blessed, let no man curse, I talked about the Buddhist principles of the Noble Eightfold Path. For the sake of the country and their party, the GOP should make their New Year’s resolution the Noble Eightfold Path shown below and with suggestions for their resolution.
- Correct Understanding – A person with correct understanding is one who is free from ignorance, and by the nature of that enlightenment removes the roots of evil from his mind and becomes liberated. GOP resolution – we will do a better job of fostering good communication and understanding with President Obama so that we can work together for the good of the American people.
- Correct Motive – we should not engage in any action or behavior that is driven by greed, hatred, anger, or ignorance. GOP resolution – we will endeavor to make sure that our relationship with the president is not driven by hatred, anger, and ignorance. Furthermore, we will do our best to make our policies cultivate kindness and compassion to the poor.
- Correct Speech – this means abstention from saying anything that hurts people’s feelings, not telling lies, not using deceptive or intentionally confusing language, not gossiping or intentionally hurting people or making them angry with their speech. GOP resolution – we will refrain from controversial and harmful talk and instead speak kindly and courteously to the president and to all Americans. We will also reprimand or denounce any member who make insulting and disrespectful comments about the president and who promote baseless conspiracy theories about President Obama’s place of birth, his religion, and his patriotism.
- Correct Conduct – this refers to our ethical behavior and ensures that our deeds are peaceful, benevolent, compassionate and pure. GOP resolution – we will ensure that our relationship with President Obama does not reflect malice and resentment. Furthermore, we will encourage all our members to be respectful to the president.
- Correct Living – that what we do for a living does not cause suffering but instead is neutral and promotes helping people. GOP resolution – we will refrain from doing anything that is divisive, manipulative, and hypocritical.
- Correct Effort – requires directing our efforts incessantly to the overcoming of ignorance, selfish desires, anger, jealousy, and to get rid of such unwholesome states of mind that have already arisen. GOP resolution – we will make sure that our effort is solely to advance the good of the American people and not for our own selfish agenda.
- Correct Intellectual Activity – relates to cherishing good and pure thoughts bearing in mind that all that we say and do arise from our thoughts. GOP resolution – we will develop the mental discipline to nurture good and pure thoughts especially in our relationship with the president.
- Correct Contemplation – entails being aware and attentive, watching our own mind, seeing where it is going and what it is doing. GOP resolution – in our interaction with President Obama, we will focus on positive things so that we do not become consumed by negative speech, motive, and conduct,
The Noble Eightfold Path can be categorized into three groups that are Wisdom (correct understanding, correct motive, and correct speech); Ethical conduct (correct conduct and correct living); and Mental Discipline (correct effort, correct intellectual activity, and correct contemplation). These three categories, unfortunately, are not attributes that many politicians possess, as evidenced by the political climate in Washington DC. The manner in which President Obama is treated is completely devoid of wisdom and ethical conduct. There is no wisdom in trying to destroy a man who has character; integrity; is guided by moral and religious principles; and who demonstrates understanding, compassion, and empathy to all people.
Ethical conduct is also a problem for the GOP when a number of their members engage in highly disturbing behavior that promotes hatred, hypocrisy, resentment, and divisiveness. Consider for example the many investigations that the Chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform, Rep. Daryl Issa has conducted for the sole purpose of trying to damage the president and bring him down. Many people, including members on these committees have called these investigations a political charade as they lack any real evidence of wrongdoing by the president or by his administration. Not surprisingly, these investigations have all fizzled out.
The constant echoes of the birther crowd, the talk about the president being a Muslim, being a socialist, being un-American and the talk about impeaching him are all unethical conduct because they are baseless, unfair, and lack any kernel of truth. You would think that people would be smart enough to realize that the president cannot conceal anything about his personal life. He has been thoroughly vetted during each of his presidential campaigns yet there is no evidence to support even a remnant of the conspiracy theories and propaganda that are directed at him.
Politicians should have or develop good mental discipline to be ethical and consistent with their political motives, speeches, and actions. Mental discipline in these areas would help the GOP get over their obsession that drives them to oppose anything the president put on the table (even some of his policies that they were for before the president took office). A little mental discipline would help the GOP realize that they control their fate and not President Obama. After all, they are the ones obsessed in trying to bring him down and not the other way around.
The awareness of the Noble Eightfold Path and the effort to follow them will help to reduce the toxic relationship that exists between the GOP and President Obama. The president, more so than the GOP leadership, has demonstrated a behavior that conforms more to the virtues of the Noble Eightfold Path. That is why he remains strong and resolute despite the personal attacks and the effort to destroy him. If the GOP were able to adopt the Noble Eightfold Path as their New Year’s resolution, the political climate in Washington DC would definitely change for the better. This resolution would help set the tone for others to follow. Hopefully, it would encourage the right wing media to be more objective and honest in their coverage of politics.
Should the GOP adopt the virtues of the Noble Eightfold path for their New Year’s resolution, without doubt, 2014 will be a better year for all Americans.
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