Tuesday, January 20, 2009

The Undiscovered Country

Are We There Yet?

When the day finally came for Barack Obama to become our 44th President, it unfolded with a lot of positive energy I hadn't foreseen. I knew I'd be happy, but the incredible outpouring of emotion and joy that enveloped every available square inch of Washington D. C. just floored me. I was out of town this last weekend, and missed the big Sunday musical celebration, but eventually watched it online. It's odd that with just a simple exorcism via the ballot, the mood of the country could change so dramatically. The symbolism of the performances on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial was striking. Video clips of Marian Anderson, Martin Luther King, and JFK were counterpoints to young and old musical artists singing classics. I was particularly moved to see the old Sam Cooke song, A Change is Gonna Come. It was great to see U2 do Pride (In the Name of Love), which was originally dedicated to MLK, done in front of the huge seated statue of Abraham Lincoln.

Obama's acceptance speech was not the second coming of the Gettysburg Address, nor was it meant to be. It was a direct communiqué to all of us that the day had come, and that the change we'd all been waiting for was going to happen through our own hands, and that the government would not be a thing of alienation, but an extension of the will and needs of the people. While his first words were gracious ones, directed at ex-president Bush (jeez, it feels good to say 'ex-president Bush!') but soon heard in no uncertain terms that there was a new sheriff in town, and America would no longer be operating under the same old patterns of politics and power.

Before today, I'd heard some snickering remarks about the phrase "Be the change," but today, that seems real to me, and what it's all about, and also how it must be the way things will work.


The Old Hippie said...

Yes, the "mood change" you describe is real, and not just in D.C./America... but around the entire planet.  Most celebrated with "hugs & tears of joy" worldwide yesterday.

I too joined that celebration, and listened to his words of; "... we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals.  Our Founding Fathers, faced with perils we can scarcely imagine, drafted a charter to assure the rule of law ... To the Muslim world, we seek a new way forward, based on mutual interest and mutual respect. ... And to those nations like ours that enjoy relative plenty, we say we can no longer afford indifference to suffering outside our borders; nor can we consume the world’s resources without regard to effect."

Those words, if from the man, (not the politician within the man,) then my long absent optimism may find a home with me again.  (Note: Obama wrote his speech, not a speechwriter.)

But with that said, I have paid close attention, as have many others, to his picks for cabinet & advisors for foreign policy matters, and those picks are very worrisome at best.

Plus, there is his, and Biden's, recent tilting of the "prosecute & punish" idea/debate into "don't look back/move forward," again very-very worrisome - As to why - See this link, watch & listen - Then do anything you can to push for investigation/punishment.  Otherwise, no matter how much good this new administration does for us domestically, environmentally, etc., as far as the "vast future" (as Lincoln referred to it,) and all of this "joy & hope" are concerned - it will all be for naught.

Also Geoff, if you haven't read it yet - "Just So You Understand" - may help to keep perspective?

Ric said...

John Hiatt writes,

"Yeah, we scheme about the future, and we dream about the past,
When just a simple reaching out might build a bridge that lasts.
"So whatever your hands find to do you must do with all your heart..."

I expect that, just as the grass roots helped elect Obama, so the grass roots must help with the agenda, both forming it AND executing it. It's time now for the action that must follow the election. Ready? Keep on pushin'.