Discernment is the quality of being able to grasp what is obsure; the power to see what is not evident to the average mind; the act of exhibiting keen insight and good judgment; the keenness and accuracy of mental vision; the capacity of tracing out minute distinctions.
Certainly this is one of the most important qualities of a president. Hillary has it. Barack does not. It comes from experience. The errors of youth often proceed from the want of discernment. People say that Barack Obama will surround himself with good advisors and so his lack of experience will not matter. But his lack of discernment will matter.
Good advisors have their own schtick. Good advisors are steeped in their own specialty. Their knowledge is deep and narrow; they specialize. They advise on a particular concept or area of specialty. The president’s knowledge must be deep and wide.
The president must be able to take the advice of the specialist and put it into the context of the whole.
The wider the vision of the president, the more able she is to put that advice into it’s proper context. The wider the context, the deeper the perception. The wider the context, the greater the ability to discern the appropriate decision in a given situation.
There is an old Russian myth about a young girl named Vasalisa who must learn all the aspects of intuition in order to save herself from the old witch Baba Yaga. In the story, Vasalisa matures by conquering more and more difficult hardships. She gradually rises to the challenges that affect her growth and ultimately her power in the world. The last task given to her by Baba Yaga is to separate poppy seed from dirt . . . the task of discernment . . . the minute task of separating one thing from another. She also discerns what questions are appropriate to ask of Baba Yaga and which ones are better left unasked, thus developing a keen sense of human nature and a heightened capacity for knowing. She learns to adapt to constantly changing circumstances. All this experience she gains from her time with Baba Yaga.
Does Vasalisa sound like someone we know? Someone called Hillary Clinton? Someone who has stood the test of time? Who has discernment that comes from experience? Who has the “grit” to endure? To stand up for the middle class? For our future? For our children?
Myths are meant to teach us about life. They give us the archetypes to help us understand our experience. To help us make decisions that will serve us. Many of us have lost our connection to these myths, but they are a form of understanding that we can feel and that helps to shape our understanding.
People often find it hard to describe the qualities that Hillary has—that Barack has not yet attained. She is the candidate that has taken the archetypal journey. She has captured the golden fleece. She has undertaken the tasks of Baba Yaga. She has learned discernment. She has stood the tests of time. She is the best candidate for the democratic nomination. She is the candidate to beat John McCain (a candidate with a compelling personal story). She will be the best president. You can read the story of Vasalisa here.