Patience is a virtue long lost on the political front

I want patience and I want it now. How many times have you and I said that? And despite our better judgment, it's easy to repeatedly fall back into the same trap. Now the whole world appears to be caught up in this cycle, even though it can lead to disaster.

For Christians, the situation is more complicated. When trying to live our faith, we're reminded to avoid praying for patience. It's suggested that asking God for it means he'll give you a huge situation or dilemma in order to really grasp the concept. So we tiptoe around the subject, trying to find other ways to ask for heavenly power to handle everyday pressures. It's good that the Bible's full of other lessons on diligence, trusting, having faith, taking time to weigh decisions and, most importantly, waiting on God.

Yes, current events in the world seem to be all wrapped up in a hurry-up-and-decide process. The market crashes of the last year have caused even the most faithful believer to embrace the tyranny of the urgent. There's a rush to stimulate the economy and the quest to print more currency if needed. Vice President Joe Biden said we need to "shovel as much money out the door as possible" to jump start things. Well, even with plenty of that, the jury is still out regarding its effectiveness.

Despite better judgment, it's often human nature to insist on what we desire immediately, regardless of the consequences. It's expedient to focus on ourselves instead of God. We want instant answers, quick fixes and easy solutions to complex problems, without understanding that too-fast decisions and expectations can result in failure. In politics, too many snap decisions lead to messes left to future bureaucrats—and taxpayers—to clean up. The wrong message is too often conveyed: Patience is not a virtue.

A 24/7 media culture doesn't help. We have more information at hand than ever in history, yet it's overwhelming. So it seems better to move faster with knee-jerk actions, expecting immediate—or different—results.

In military matters, Americans are growing weary of a war on terrorism that has gone on for eight years. After 9/11, many "experts" said U.S. power could wrap things up in a "100-Hour War." So much for that.   Despite solid evidence that the average insurgency takes 11 years or more to handle, citizens want everything wrapped up now. Or yesterday. In a neat, tidy package.


'Cap and Trade'
On other national matters like the "Cap-and-Trade" bill, the House of Representatives sped ahead and approved the measure even though it was hardly read by anyone. This is the energy tax that could put even heavier burdens on the economy, at a time when even a 5-year-old can figure out it's probably not a good idea. There were hundreds of pages demanding scrutiny, yet very "smart" people saw no reason to slow down and consider all of the minutiae.

Congress OK'd it because a majority believed it had to be done NOW (besides, it made them look like they cared on C-SPAN). There was also the usual chorus claiming we had to hurry in order to create jobs, even though time wasn't taken to assess how many more jobs could be lost with the new rules.

This fall, the U.S. Senate will be pressed to hurry and give its blessing on the energy tax under the guise of "controlling global warming," as if we can play God and run a global thermostat by decree. One of the real reasons for the hurry-and-vote push is a bureaucratic desire to look good in the eyes of other nations in time for the Copenhagen climate confab in December.

In recent weeks, Americans were told that we must "fix" the health system immediately. If not, the increasing costs would hamper our economy. The pace seemed odd, especially with all the money-shoveling going on and national debt estimate increases to $9 trillion and beyond.  

And so the behavior continues, with increasing intensity. Then on election days, many people hurriedly buy political promises and vote as if they'll then get free money in their mailbox the next day. When that doesn't happen, they sour on politics and tune out. Yes, impatience can be dangerous… on many levels.

In real life, it doesn't work this way. When a sales person pressures us to buy something, the hotter the pitch becomes, the more it's obvious that it's time to take a breath, think it over and sleep on the decision. Since elected officials still have some sort of at-home, real world lives, you'd think they'd apply some common sense to what they do at work. But the rush is on.


Prevailing reason
The current administration has done better in areas where they do seem to take time to absorb all the facts. The Cuban prison housing terror suspects at "Gitmo" is still open, and American troops have not immediately bailed on the people of Iraq or Afghanistan, or the fight for freedom and protection. That's an indication that reason and facts have prevailed… for now.

I think it's time we all took a deep breath and slowed down a bit.

Having patience isn't an easy skill, but it leads to clearer thinking, endurance, tolerance, valuable lessons and deeper understanding. Patience also reveals character, and helps us avoid bigger problems. And remember, as my grandma liked to say, "Haste makes waste."


Larson is a veteran Southern California radio/television personality and media consultant. He can be heard daily in San Diego on KCBQ 1170AM from 7 to 9 a.m. Email: mark@marklarson.com.

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Published, October 2009