Watching Obama give his acceptance speech last night i was awash in the enormity of what was happening. I wept, happily for the candidate that I’ve been rallying for through endless blogs, frank discussions with friends and aquaintances, especially when they disagreed. Vigilantly guarding my Obama ‘o8 lawn sign, donations to the campaign, donning my Obama shirt at inappropriate places and teaching people how to be a part of our elective process regardless of their voting inclinations, all come to fruition. It felt amazing to have been in it instead of warily bemused as I cast my ballot for once.
I love America. I always have, though I have often been aghast at some of our choices and behaviors. I’ve often scratched my head at the rediculousness that says to Love my country is to blindly follow its policies without question. In my mind to Love something is to care enough to also challenge it to greater heights and call bullshit, yet stand with while doing so. Abbey’s edict, “A patriot must always be ready to defend his country against his government.” has always rung absolutely true in my soul. That questioning those I’ve entrusted to be my voice is the epitome of patriotism. In fact it is my obligation to keep them on their toes.
So when I watch Mr. Obama give his acceptance speech and I’m filled with inspiration and Hope at what might be, my tears are as much for the rest of the world as they are for we as a nation or for my black neighbors, friends and coworkers. Over the last couple of days I’ve found myself eavesdropping on dozens of conversations in restaurants, in line at a store, wherever, all abuzz about the prospect of an Obama presidency. And what the chatter was about is what makes me giddy. While I was watching that speech last night the scenes that made me weep tears of joy, and relief, and pride, and communion was the exuberant reactions of crowds in the streets and pubs in London, Madrid, and Hong Kong. It was as if the world was as relieved as i was that maybe now America was going to be a neighbor it could work together with again after so much hubris and myopia over the last several years.
What I’ve seen in the wake of the economic meltdown of the last two months wasnt so much an indictment of Trickle Down and deregulation (okay, yes it was) but more so a loud, screeching wake up call for us to see clearly just how interconnected all of us are; coworkers, neighbors, states and countries. When those lending institutions buckled under the weight of unfettered greed and selfishness it didnt just effect an easy to blame, faceless Wall Street. We all watched as the world’s economies got knocked to their knees. The chatter around me that I’m excited about was of Americans talking of issues and circumstances outside of Us and pondering what we can do to make it right, to fix it, to move forward.
In this respect i am so grateful that we’ve chosen a pragmatist who knows something of the world. That has lived in poverty and risen past it’s empty consciousness and realizes very tangibly that he didnt do it alone. That we must work together as a world community to rise above the challenges that are not respectors of Nationalism or colors. Economy and climate are equal opportunity apocalypses in the making. Or like for our grand parents, challenges to be overcome.
Churchill wrote that Americans will always do the right thing – after they’ve exhausted all other options. I think we’re all pretty exhausted. Fired up and ready to go.
That’s Hope I can believe in.
(Nov. 5, 2009)