I watched President Obama deliver his final State of the Union speech last night. I was not only interested in what he had to say, but wondered about the divided house to whom he was speaking. On one side were people dressed in colorful clothes, standing and cheering, smiling and enjoying themselves as if they were at a wedding party. On the other side people were dressed in dark suits, some bored and some somber as if they were at a funeral. (In other years, the house could have been divided in just the opposite way, some partying and some restrained and reserved.)

I thought, “What would it be like to speak to such a divided house?”

And then I thought, “I know what that is like. I do that everyday, several times a day.” Sometimes I make decisions and one part of me celebrates the action. For example, Deb and I bought a new I pad. Part of my internal house celebrated as we moved from the darker ages. The other side of the house sat on its hands and questioned the actions as it wondered if we were being too extravagant. A divided house lives in me.

President Obama suggested that the divided house before him needed to figure out how to work together if the nations problems are going to be addressed. He suggested that each respect the other and that the two parties not accuse each other of being unpatriotic. All are working for the good of the whole even though they disagree with what is good.

I think that internal respect is what must be nurtured if an individual self doesn’t want to be paralyzed and unable to take action for its own physical and mental well-being. The divided parties need to hang out with each other when they are not trying to make decisions. They need to get to know each other as fellow members of the same household. In my internal house those who partied at the purchase of the I pad need to enjoy it, because on other occasions the reserved side of the house will win the day and I will hold on to my money.


We have just watched history in the making. The Rosetta spacecraft  has just successfully landed a robot (Philae) on a comet 3.1 billion miles from my house. This spacecraft, launched by the European Space Agency 10 years ago, has travelled at 23,000 miles per hour and the landing is the first human object to be landed on a comet. The comet (P67) is 2.5 miles wide.

As we watched the control center for the ESA stare at their computers, waiting for news of the landing, we too were transfixed. It is incredible that humans have landed a robot on a small piece of rock some 3 billion miles away.

But, I am also fascinated at the vision, the tenacity, the cooperation and the patience this project has taken. The project was started 25 years ago. The spaceship was launched 10 years ago. During the10 year journey, the ship was put to sleep for 2.5 years to save it’s energy, only to be reawakened in January to continue it’s communication with the earth. During it’s absence from radio contact with the earth, it travelled some 2.5 billion miles.

And the project was accomplished by the cooperation of 20 different countries in Europe and support from the US, Canadian and Australian Space Agencies.

I was delighted to watch some good news. So much of what we see makes us worry about human nature. But this experience lifted my hopeful spirit. When humans care, when humans cooperate, when humans see possibilities and thousands of people cooperate to make something good happen, it is amazing what we can do. 

I know that it is naive to assume that such cooperation will happen in all areas of human concern, but this is a testimony to what humans can do if we put our minds to it.