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.


I am always fascinated by the polls on the job-approval of the president of the United States. It moves up and down depending on the latest crisis and what the president might have been able to do about it.

What I find intriguing about the polls about this president is how many people who were excited about his being elected have been disappointed in his performance.  The energy was high in 2008.  It was less in 2012, but still there were people who believed that he could do something that would help improve the lives of people.

Now, I know that he made lots of promises when he was running for office. That is the nature of American political elections—promises. Politicians get elected on the basis of the future that they describe and the promises they make to bring about that kind of future.

But, the fact is, leading isn’t so much about making promises as it is achieving something. Someone once said that politics is the “art of the possible.” The ability to govern is related to accomplishing that which can be accomplished. It is not about fulfilling all the promises that are made in order to get elected.

And the ability to achieve the possible is determined in large measure by many factors that are not in the control of the one who makes promises to motivate our voting for them. The diversity of opinions that make up a free political process forces leaders to propose, listen, adjust, compromise and achieve what they can. The shrinking globe we live on creates political realities in other countries that limit the ability of our leaders to make a difference. Wise use of political power on issues where they can have an impact is important for leaders

So, I stay fascinated with the polls, but would wish people were a little more gracious toward those who are working to practice the “art of the possible.”