Last night, I tuned into Speaker Nancy Pelosi as she spoke from the House Floor in support of health care reform legislation. Pelosi closed with the words of her colleague John Lewis who said “We may not have chosen the time, but the time has chosen us.” While analysts have compared Lewis’ comment to the rhetoric of the civil rights struggle, I think this notion of time choosing us harkens back to John Calvin and the predestined path as well.
While I intuitively grasp Speaker Pelosi and John Lewis’ intent, what does it really means for time to choose us? When one must act courageously –in matters of love or to vote for a controversial bill –it can help to imagine that time, is somehow predetermined. Time is an agent that somehow has control over us. Instead of actions being subject to whim or free will, all life has been planned ahead.
While I am both thrilled and relieved for health care reform, I believe it is crucial to leave capital T time and John Calvin out of the equation and take individual responsibility for our thoughts and actions or at least wrestle with our lives without the interference of a clock that grabs us. Time cannot choose anything or anyone. It is a mistake to try to go there in political rhetoric and everyday conversations. I encourage us all to speak for ourselves while time remains on the clock.