21 January, 2009

Hope in our time

It’s hard to say something fresh about Barack Obama, his election, last November and his inauguration yesterday.

Watching his address last night, with my family, it was hard not to feel overwhelmed with emotion. I remember, on the day of Obama’s nomination as Democratic candidate, my mom, who remembers the civil rights movement and desegregation, bursting into tears. It meant so much to her. How much more to African-Americans of her generation, their children and grandchildren?

But Obama’s nomination, election and inauguration reach far beyond ethnicity, race or nationality. We live in an era of politics proliferating in management. Our politicians ‘manage’ (or indeed mismanage) The Economy, public services, foreign affairs; they order reports and launch initiatives. Things get a
little worse, a little better; life goes on.

Here though, is a man who is willing to lead. Indeed Barack Obama has already led countless, black people, young people and tired people all over America to vote, to restore a measure of dignity to a process from which they felt divorced, to make representation mean something again, to dare to hope.

If Martin Luther King had a dream, Obama has vision. His presence on the podium yesterday invitates us to share it. And vision is what we need. Look what his vision has already achieved! Look how little can be achieved without it (and even what carnage can be wrought because of its lack).

Our current global systemic collapse is the result of just a lack of foresight and imagination, of vision. Expectations of this man, in the world of percentage increases and decreases, of time-frames and deadlines, are high. That, I think, is the limited perspective from which we have just departed.

As he said himself, Barack Obama cannot fly in like Superman and
solve the problems we have created, change the world we have made in our own image. Rather, President Obama represents our collective ability to imagine the world as we wish to inhabit it - as ready participants, useful contributors and generous creators - to hope for better from ourselves and to see that better nature take form and take flight.

And that’s what I feel. Hope for the future. Hope for us.