Monday, March 22, 2010

life and death, patience and patients

On this pre-Easter weekend, I awaited word on the death of a dear friend's dad in Miami. The end for him came just hours before the Congress voted, at last, on health care reform and breathed new life into what is for millions of Americans a life-and-death struggle. All this on the first day of spring.

As I reflect on what has been called by its critics Obamacare, I can only be grateful that it has been made possible by a president who has, among other attributes, the rare gift of patience. This was in evidence not only during his careful deliberations over Afghanistan last year but in the year-long battle to enact health care.

Whereas most people hurry, he ponders and plans.

Part of what makes Obama a national asset is this often-overlooked virtue, which enables him to be a good listener, a master of policy details, and a strategist who is willing to wait until his many critics look like fools. He seems to accept insults and small setbacks since he patiently keeps his focus on the big picture.

Years ago, in researching a book,The Triumph of Patience, on the neo-Stoic virtue of patience as spiritual strength and heroic fortitude, I looked long and hard at what this virtue once meant and still might mean. I never expected to see it so beautifully displayed at the highest levels of political power by the singular man who has given life to what seemed not long ago a dead or dying idea.

No comments: