Today's Draw: James Buchanan, #15, from the Presidential Oracle. Are you sitting on the fence about something? Are you doing it to try to please the most people or are you doing it because you can see things more clearly from atop the fence? Assuming you can't do both, would you rather serve everyone, or would you rather serve the highest good?
Many years ago, in a lighthearted effort to prove that anything can be an oracle, I concocted the most boring and convoluted oracle ever—The Presidential Oracle. Basically you choose a number between 1 and 44, then read an essay about the accompanying president's life. In this essay, you will find the wisdom you seek. Well, that's how it was supposed to work. The real way it works is you start reading an essay about the president in question, then you fall asleep from boredom two sentences in.
So it is with much delight that I resurrect this oracle for you today with one of the most enthralling presidents of all—our 15th President, James Buchanan. I know what you're thinking. But there really was a president named James Buchanan. I swear!
Buchanan was a one-term president by his own design. He announced that at his inauguration. He served 1857-1861 and is probably best known as being the president before Lincoln. He is the only president to remain a bachelor throughout his life. He cohabited with a man for many years. His niece served as First Lady. As a result of that and the rumors at the time, he is thought to be the first gay president.
Buchanan entered the presidency at a time when the country was quickly dividing over the issue of slavery. As a skilled lawyer, he felt constitutional law would solve the problem. He appointed advisers on both sides of the fence and felt he could maintain a balance until the Supreme Court made a decision, then guide the country to accept whatever decision that should be. In short, he wanted to make everyone happy. And it failed. Two years in to his presidency, the new republican party took control over the congress and pretty much everything Buchanan tried got deadlocked. Ultimately, his inaction in the face of secession would become his legacy.
So James Buchanan comes to us today to warn us against the dangers of trying to please everyone. The key, as is the key to everything, is intent. Are you being equitable and agreeable so everyone will like you? Or are you remaining neutral because you feel detachment serves the highest good? And the role you play also plays a part. As a lawyer, Buchanan is wise to walk to middle ground and play devil's advocate. As a president, his role is to be the key decision maker. So he has to make the tough decisions and choose between one thing or another. However in many roles, we're called upon to do both.
As a spiritual writer, I've taken a particular stand on the spiritual lessons I want to put forth in my blogs. Those beliefs do not please everyone. They speak primarily to people who consider themselves metaphysical, "spiritual but not religious" or "spiritually open minded." You won't find many born again Christians reading my blog, though I suspect many would find common ground in some of the things I talk about. However they will never see past the tarot card at the top of the blog or the fact that I rarely ever refer to Jesus. And that's OK. I've chosen my audience. It's the audience with which I can be most effective, because lord knows I can't talk scripture.
That said, within the stand I've taken, I choose a neutral, non judgmental, detached stance. As best I can. That also does not please everyone, because detachment means I'm not going to get emotionally caught up in your issues and bleed your blood. If I do that, I can't serve you. Because chances are, whatever you're bleeding about is here to teach you a lesson you're too emotionally involved to see. And the more I become personally embroiled in it—as a friend, teacher or adviser—the less I'm able to pull back enough to help you see the lesson so you can move past the repeating pattern.
Conflict, pain, disappointment—as well as joy, peace and accord—are all here to teach you something in my way of believing. Before you can see that, though, you need to move past your ego involvement in the situation...your investment in being right. There are plenty of people who will rail against your injustices with you on the ego level, and those people are important to have around. The path I'm increasingly choosing in my life, however, is playing the "bad guy" who stays far enough detached that I can see your personal responsibility and steer you toward your spiritual evolution when you're ready.
In my way of believing, if you don't eventually learn the lesson, it will come back to you again and again. It might have a different plot and a new cast of characters, but it will come back. I've just had something come back around on me again. It feels good to have people affirm that I'm right, but I'd also like someone who doesn't care if I'm right or wrong to help me focus on what I'm not learning. Sometimes we need our egos soothed before we're ready to examine our role in why the same patterns keep repeating in our lives—or even that it is the same pattern, seeing as how it looks different than the times before.
So the role I want to play in my tarot practice, my writing and as a spiritual counselor is that of someone who can help you see your personal responsibility, identify the patterns in your life and challenge you to evolve spiritually. Which means I'm not for everyone, either personally or professionally. By taking that stand, I tell the universe what kind of energies to bring to me. I attract the kind of people who are looking for what I have to offer. And I'm able to be effective where I want to be effective.
I'm not saying my choice is better than any another. I'm saying I know what's right for me and my talents, and who I want to serve and who I want around me. And I'm not afraid of the consequences that come from that, including a smaller pool of clients, friends and readers upon which to draw in life.
In marketing you might call it differentiation or appealing to a niche market. Ultimately we have to specialize in something...to take a stand...to name our practice. Even being a general practitioner is naming a practice. But in the world of the Presidential Oracle, we call someone who is both a general practitioner and a specialist, a Buchanan. They're Buchananing it in order to be all things to all people. And, in the end, they're not as effective in serving others as those who are Lincolning it in their lives.
Ultimately that's the lesson Buchanan needed to learn. Both presidents were presented with the exact same challenge/opportunity—to heal the rift in our nation. Buchanan tried to do that by serving everybody and failed. Lincoln, instead of serving everybody, served the highest good. In doing that he had to take a stand that would cause resentment among many and, eventually, cost him his life. But he was more effective, his mission succeeded and he created significant change in the world.
Where in your world might you be trying to please too many people? And are you doing it to avoid creating waves...because it's easier? How well is it working for you and your personal growth?