Wednesday, November 05, 2008

a new hope

we elected a new president yesterday, and regardless of who you voted for or how you are feeling about it today, barack obama will be the next president of the united states. in his speech last night at grant park in chicago, he spoke as if he were speaking directly to me:

...tonight is your answer...It’s the answer that led those who’ve been told for so long by so many to be cynical and fearful and doubtful about what we can achieve to put their hands on the arc of history and bend it once more toward the hope of a better day...

...So let us summon a new spirit of patriotism, of responsibility, where each of us resolves to pitch in and work harder and look after not only ourselves but each other.
...
i've been that guy. i've been the cynic the last several years. forget what party i belonged to, i wanted to wash my hands of the whole system. i have, for a long time now, just resigned myself to the idea that politics has been hijacked by fear and hate, and that no real change is possible through the government. only a cataclysmic event has that power (katrina, 9/11). in short, i gave up. i just saw too much hate and deceit. i had given up.
and then i kept hearing about this obama guy and his audacity of hope. and i wrote him off as a political idealogue, or a product of the system, polished and passionate, playing us like the huddled masses that we are.
but no longer. i'm not saying i agree with him on everything or even most things. i don't follow politics enough to know all of that. i do not know if we have elected someone with really great positions or really terrible ones. maybe i'm an idiot, but at this point in my life, i'm not so concerned about that. what i am amazed by, however, is that i care at all. i want to make sure that is absolutely clear. until very recently, i just didn't care about this. it seemed meaningless to me. but something changed in me. despair and cynicism gave birth to a tiny seed of hope. not a hope that this one man is going to change our nation or our government, but a hope that this one moment in history, the election of this man to our nation's highest office, will start something. my faith in God gives me great hope for the future. i believe in God's kingdom and i pray every day, along with many others, "thy kingdom come." i hope in that kingdom. and for a long time now i have thought that it will come in spite of america. but no longer. i have a new hope in me now that change is possible even among us, even now, after all. that maybe, just maybe, the world doesn't have to know us by our hate or our fear or our power. maybe, we can be known for our love, our sacrifice, our willingness to make this a better place than we found it. maybe the future can be something different than the past. i don't know if it is possible. i'm sure it won't be easy. but i used to be certain that it was impossible. now, i'm not so sure. now i have a kind of hope that i did not have before. "our government should work for us, not against us," obama has said time and time again. and i wholeheartedly agree. but can we make that a reality? "yes we can," says a chorus of believers. for better or for worse, count me among them.
at the very least i want to try.

7 comments:

Redbank Billy said...

Well I had a lot to say on this but there isn't enough space here LOL!!!
Glad to see "your" mind has changed, as for me, I am still a cynic and really don't trust "most" of them. Its easy to give eloquent speeches when you have a staff of writers. Lets see what happens in the coming months/years. someday when we get together we could really have a great discussion on this stuff....
Peace

Crafty P said...

hmmm. interesting.

it saddens me a bit that you do not know so much about the issues- or maybe that you're not so concerned about them. I hope that that changes for the better... soon.

Let me just say- I'm glad you're getting interested in things and if Obama has peaked your interest than that is one good thing he has done and I'll be sure to remember that in 4 years.

greg. said...

oh, crafty p, don't get me wrong. i've studied the issues quite a bit. that's one of my points: that i care more now than ever before (and that largely because hope has been restored in me that my caring has any effect whatsoever). my point is not that i don't know where obama stands on certain issues, but that how those actually get lived out is incredibly complicated and beyond my understanding. "experts" have looked at the healthcare plan, for example, of john mccain, and come to completely opposite conclusions about who it would most benefit/strain. same with both candidates' tax plans. in other words, all of these positions become increasingly complex when you add the wrinkles of the senate and house and judicial interpretation, etc. it isn't a president's particular policies, in my opinion, that should get him or her elected so much as his/her ability to lead and surround him/herself with quality people.

i am not ignorant on obama's ideas, but i am clueless about how any of it really will matter. what will matter, though, is his ability to unite a wildly divided country; to provoke thoughtful discussion marked with hope; to cancel the despair of cynicism with a beacon of possibility; to make this less about him and more about the people of this country.

billy, as for what you said i pretty much agree with you about the speechwriters and how easy it is right now, with one caveat: he has had many opportunities to make many different decisions in this looooonnnngggg campaign. in my opinion, he has made some incredible decisions. again, in my opinion, mccain's campaign was more of the same old mud-slinging and character attacking that we've been so used to and that has helped to create and reinforce our cynicism. obama ran a different kind of campaign. instead of saying, "the other guy is bad" or "i am really awesome," they said, "the future could be really bright." this isn't about trust for me, at this point, because i am fully aware of his humanity (like my own) and the accompanying propensity for messing everything up. i trust that he will succeed at some things and fail miserably at others. it isn't about trust for me so much as hope. hope that our country can begin to value all of life again; that we can build bridges instead of bombs; that we can open our eyes to the desperately dispossessed and disenfranchised among us, and actually do something about it. again, i'm sure i'm just naive here, but its how i feel. i wasn't here for jfk, but it is how i imagine it must have felt in the early '60s.

cathyq said...

Greg, This reminds me of a Christopher Reeve quote: "Once you choose hope, anything's possible." Also, Arwen from the Lord of the Rings trilogy says, "There's always hope."
Keep hoping and praying and never, ever give in to the hopeless, jaded, negative voices who want to make us think that the world is doomed and nothing good will ever happen again. Be a Reepicheep, be a Tigger, be a believer that Good will always win out over evil. That's not political, and it's not partisan. That's a philosophy of life. I'm with you.

Redbank Billy said...

I agree with you Greg, but I still have my doubts about him uniting the country...Its still new and fresh now, lets see how it plays out when he and his compadres get going. I'm with you, I hope it makes us a better country. wait and see......

Crafty P said...

ah, I see.

I agree with your conclusions.

I'm glad "conservative" mccain is not going to be in the white house for this reason- he's not a true conservative. so now, if there are problems, they can blame "their" own guy (by their I mean all the libs, the biased media, etc). Not that I'm hoping he'll fail, but just that I'm sick of hearing everyone blame the Republicans and GWB. that's all.

my greatest concern is the great amt. of harm that can be done in 4 years. but, I'm hopeful....and prayerful.

Amanda W. said...

I agree that Obama inspires hope. He's always inspired hope in me. Politics aside (and I do agree with a good bit of his politics, but I'm one of those crazy liberals, so that would be a given :), this guy is a proven champion for the poor. He gave up the opportunity to make a six-figure salary in order to work at the ground level for the people in his community, the people who really needed his help. This is something that I don't see in the records of many of the politicians serving in Washington today, conservative or liberal. It's a beautiful thing and, as far as I'm concerned, the way that it should be. Obama is a champion for single mothers like myself. I have to say, it gives me peace to know that he will be leading our country, because my plight, and the plight of so many who are less lucky than I and are not educated, will not be lost in his cabinet. He fights against government corruption. We have him to thank for the ending of the days of lobbyists for big oil and special interest groups controlling our government. Will it still be corrupt? Hard for it not to be on some level. But I believe that Obama is serious about changing the culture of Washington, and I guess it's difficult for me to understand how anyone who works hard to provide for and feed their families can disagree with that.

I don't feel like I need to mention race but I also feel like the barrier that has been broken with his election is huge. And it's something that chokes me up for my daughter's sake. Nothing can change overnight, but the fact that our children will have early memories of an African American leading their country will be so important to how they learn to love and accept their fellow human beings.

I'm sure there are many who are waiting for Obama's first screw-up, and I'm sure it will come. How could it not? He's human. We all screw up. But ultimately I hope that in a few years, we will be on a better track, spending America's money not to maim and kill thousands of innocent people overseas, but to uplift those who need it most, to work toward educating our children better (and ALL of our children, not just white children), to ensure that we can all live healthy and productive lives, and to make our Earth a better place. Call me idealistic, but hey. Haven't I always been? :)

Sorry for the ramble. Thanks for your words. They were refreshing.