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Religious Tolerance logo

An essay donated by Susan Humphreys

The Waiting Game: Having the patience
to let problems resolve themselves

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I started catching a cold Saturday morning and have spent the last three days waiting for my body to win this war. There really wasn’t anything I could do to help fight this battle. I was simply the reporter observing the skirmishes from the sidelines.

As I waited I thought and I realized that much of life is spent waiting, for something to happen.

When I was a kid my Mom would drop my off at the library so I could return books and pick out new ones for the next week to read. She would then run off somewhere taking care of her errands. I’d select my new books then wait on the steps of the library, or if it was cold on the bench inside the double doors for her to come and pick me up. At least I had something to read while I waited!

When I worked in a newspaper office I would do my bit then wait for someone to do their bit and pass it on to me for me to do my bit and then we’d both wait for the editor to do his bit—approve of what we had done.

During the cold war no one ever thought that all we would have to do to win that war was to have the patience to wait and let Communism collapse under the weight of its own corruption. But it did and we won the waiting game even if we didn’t realize we were playing it.

I predict that the Taliban, Al Shabab, and all the other Islamic extremist groups will also self-destruct. They are promoting and unsustainable system with self-destructive tactics. Unfortunately for the world they will cause a lot of death and destruction to others before they disintegrate. We just have to have the perseverance to outlast them.

Congress is playing the waiting game, as the pundits say waiting for the other to blink. I hope Obama stands his ground and doesn’t cave in to the extortionists. 1 Extortion is such an un-American way to play the game. Despite Boehner’s protestations this is a game they are playing and his group started it, set the rules and they are mad the other group is refusing to play by their rules. They are the ones that must call an end to it. The game by the way is called “chicken”.

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Rabbi Maller had an essay a month ago about failed apocalyptic predictions. Many Christians aren’t just waiting for the second coming, they think they can help bring it about by supporting Israel, and seeing that all the prophecies are fulfilled, even if they have to help fulfill them. That’s where the danger lies, some fool gets impatient—tired of waiting, does something he thinks will help bring about the second coming of Christ and sets off World War III instead.

After the hurricane hit the gulf coast years ago, many in New Orleans waited for someone to rescue them. A few strong minded individuals didn’t wait, they saved themselves and their neighbors, then moved on and created a new life for themselves somewhere else. Some folks in New Orleans are still waiting for the government to make things right. There have been several more natural disasters since that BIG one. How many more people are waiting for someone to rescue them?

There is a great deal of wisdom to be found in the Tao teh Ching and the I Ching, ancient books of Chinese philosophy. One common piece of wisdom that is found throughout both is that of patience and perseverance, biding your time, waiting for the right moment to act and then doing so strongly and decisively while sticking to your core principles and sticking with the job (persevering) until the job is done no matter how long it takes.

What some people don’t grasp is that this is an active not a passive waiting time. You don’t sit around doing nothing. You hone your skills, you further your education, you tend to small matters so they won’t get in your way or slow you down when the time comes to tackle the bigger ones.

Religious Intolerance will disappear in time. It is self-destructive and unsustainable. Unfortunately it causes a great deal of unnecessary sadness and grief to others. AND now with the proliferation of information on the world wide web and weapons of mass destruction it is possible for humans to make a large portion of the earth uninhabitable while destroying a large number of her people in an instant.

One advantage that we older, more mature folk have over the younger ones is that patience comes easier for us. We are more willing to wait and let some things self-destruct, knowing the damage will be minimal (a few hurt feelings or skinned knees). We don’t get our “knickers in a knot” over things we know we have no control.

One disadvantage is that because we have “been there and done that” we are amazed at how stupid some people can be.  We can’t understand why they can’t learn from our past mistakes.. Why they are so narrow minded, short sighted, have tunnel vision, are self-centered—can’t they see the bigger picture? What really amazes me are the older folks that are this way and I have met many. They should know better!

Lyrics by Bob Dylan:

"How many roads must a man walk down before you call him a man?

How many seas must the white dove sail before she sleeps in the sand?

How many times must the cannon balls fly before they are forever banned?

The answer my friend is blowing in the wind. The answer is blowing in the wind."

I think I will go outside, sit in the sun and let my body wrestle with the remnants of this cold. While I am sitting there and waiting, I think I will listen to the wind

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  1. This essay was written in early 2013-OCT when the federal government was closed down by Congress and the last attempt to destroy the Affordable Care Act was made, endangering the financial reputation of the U.S.

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Originally posted: 2013-OCT-20
Latest update: 2013-OCT-20
Susan Humphreys
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