Yes we can

Sunday, November 09, 2008

(If you can't see the above video, you can read the full transcript HERE)

I hesitate to talk about politics on this blog since it is so polarizing. But with the election of Obama I believe that we are experiencing something that transcends politics. Something of vital transformative significance that goes beyond the divides of red and blue, and indeed beyond the boarders of even our own country. Something with world significance.

You can see it in the people's faces as you watch the above video from Obama's acceptance speech. Faces of people who are longing to hope. Obama addresses the so called apathy of today's youth, and you can see two teenage girl's faces light up. Because in fact this younger generation is one that yearns to be involved, it is one that cares deeply about the world around it. If you want to appeal to youth today, you do so by appealing to service, and you can see that when Obama does, he connects.

Throughout the above speach you can see Obama connecting with "those who have been told for so long by so many to be cynical, and fearful, and doubtful of what we can achieve". That is the quintensencial spirit of post modernism. But as a post modern, I find that I deeply want to believe, I want to hope. I just can't put my faith into something that I can immediately see though as hollow. I can't help but be cynical when I can see that a politician is once again trying to sell me their agenda. But when Obama speaks I sense there is something real. Not just inspiringly and eloquently said. Not just another pretty package, but substantive and deep... It has been a long long time since I have felt that about any politician.

Looking at the reaction of the crowd that night, talking with people around me at work, and watching the reaction all around the world, I get the feeling I am not alone in this. All around the world, people who are accustomed to rolling their eyes, who are quick to be cynical, are finding themselves deeply moved. Something big is happening. Something bigger than one person, no matter how charismatic or inspiring. Something way bigger than politics. It is a chance for us to all pull together as one people. It's what should have happened - what could have happened after 9-11.

I remember right after 9-11 there was this amazing solidarity across the world. Everyone was an American that day. Everyone was in those two towers. But then something happened that turned that unity into polarizing animosity both within the U.S. and across the world. It became a time characterized by a spirit of fear, and "us vs. them" thinking. Red vs. blue. Conservatives vs. liberals. We may find when it comes to policy decitions that some good solutions come from the right, and others come from the left. Most will likely be a combination of both - mixing concerns of responsibility with rights. But whether we are right or left, one change we have all been waiting for, like people waiting for the sun to break through the gray clouds, is a change from fear to hope. A change from polarization to unity.

That spirit of hope is what we needed back in the aftermath of 9-11. It is what we have all been waiting for so long. It is how to bring out the best in us instead of the worst in us. It is how we can just maybe take the mess our world is in and make it better. But as is often the case in history, it takes the right man to come along and lead a people. It is never just about that man. It's never just about a Martin Luther, or a Martin Luther King. But a movement that ripples out and changes the world, much of the time can only start when someone truly great helps to give it a voice, and helps us to find our voice.

Yes we can.

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At 10:26 PM, Blogger said...

It doesn't bother me that you are happy Obama won - politics is only polarizing if we allow it to be so. I even hope that you are right... But I think it bears saying that my wife would probably say similarly rhapsodic things about Sarah Palin had the McCain ticket won.

To move from the (allegedly) significant to the trivial - think about sports. It always feels significant when your team wins - this is the start of sustained success, proof of virtue and talent, and true evidence of the greatness of your athletic heroes. (Losing, on the other hand, is usually due to "bad luck" or some similarly inscrutable cause).

You aren't alone in perceiving transcendence and significance in the moment - the half of the country that voted for Obama agrees with you... The other half is busy cursing its "bad luck" and planning for the next election.

At 11:11 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I suppose when Lincoln (who was a Republican I note) was elected, I'm sure there were people who had voted for Douglas who were also saying what you are here - that I'm just happy because "my team won". History would show however that Lincoln was not just any old president.

What I am saying is that I think that we have with Obama someone as significant as a Kennedy or a Lincoln in our time. A person history will remember as transcending a party. I am saying that there has not been a moment for decades that is as significant as this one is.

I guess only history will be able to tell.


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