Friday, January 16, 2009

Land of the Brave

In the way of teenagers, my son confidently asserted recently that theirs is the most awesome generation. To them, he said, raised in a culture of diversification, race makes no difference.

As we ponder the inauguration of our first President of color, this perspective strikes smartly. For so many of us, the event is a culmination of a centuries long effort to right a dastardly wrong in our history. We can tearfully celebrate some hard fought progress. My son fortunately lives in a community of tolerance, mixing peacefully with priviledged and refugees and all sorts in between on a daily basis, so he sees it differently.

In truth, no sooner was the milestone acknowledged in the days after the election, then it is immediately muted by the sobering challenges to be faced by our new President, not to mention each and every one of us individually. Some of the problems we face have little to do with race, even less with nationality.

To think misery is delighted with all this good company actually helps me traverse my days. Although this crisis seemed a blitzkrieg in October, like a snowfall, it seems to have settled on nearly everyone. Fat cats of Wall Street and Carpenter Joes are equally unemployed.

Risk takers are scared and the cautious are worried. The days of giddy confidence and robust spending have vanished, possibly never to return.

There are some who have predicted this day for a long time. Most of us did not want to hear; many nodded our heads in agreement, but continued along, promising to make changes to our lifestyle sometime soon. Our rivers have been growing cleaner, technology advances create community in the world, a black man and a woman are serious contenders for the White House. It seemed we were doing enough.

In 1973, our assumptions were disrupted by a few oil-rich nations who recognized the power a strangle-hold on our nation could leverage. We implemented a rationing system, reduced speed limits, embraced the concept of alternative energies, but soon resumed our consumptive habits.

The last decade has proven to be an orgy of debt miss-management, a gorging of immediate gratifications with large houses, comfortable vacations and lavish entertainment. Celebrities have been our heroes. Athletes have inspired our worship. Twin Towers imploding sobered us, but did not stop the party.

With change comes opportunity.

That a black man will lead us as president is no accident, and is very worthy of celebration. My son, however, is correct in pointing out that the Man is just a man afterall, human and vulnerable like the rest of us, who has used his talent, intelligence and morals to elevate himself to his success. A true leader sets an example we can all follow.

We have the opportunity to make real change in our lives today, and each and every day that follows after. On January 20th, we once again demonstrate to the world that regime change can happen peacefully by the will of the People. Anyone with courage, fortitude and moral integrity, living their lives authentically, can attain their dreams.

Obama’s humility seems to be one of his greatest traits, his recognition that he has not climbed this mountain alone, but with the help, hard work and sacrifice of countless others. We have the opportunity to join hands around the world and create an economy that unites our cultures instead of a race to accumulate riches at the expense of our neighbors.

We can learn to live within our means, pay for what we want with what we have earned, free to live in peace, sharing our emotional wealth, the fund that grows as the stress recedes.

A life sustained is a fortune gained.

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2 comments:

Carol said...

I do worry that Obama has been put on too high a pedastal and his humanity has been forgotten. I don't envy the job that he faces, he's walking in to a terrible mess. But I wish him well and that a level of healing can now take place within the international community and of course within the U.S too.

Laurie said...

It is interesting how far we have traveled in a generation's time. When I was a small girl, there were brightly colored, invisible lines to separate people into their comfort zones. While I am in complete support of erasing the racial lines that separate people, I don't believe, as many do, that we as a people should be tolerant of moral issues that keep coming to the foreground. Definitions of marriage, live and let live, as long as I'm not hurt why does it matter? Those ideas are being pushed into our field of view as we are being told that if we don't accept that line of thought, we are a monster. It seems that these days the only thing that should not be tolerated is intolerance, an ironic outcome to the equation.

I didn't support Obama in his campaign but am proud that as a nation we have looked at the man instead of the color. I hope that as we develop as a society, we don't knock down the very foundation that it was built upon. Much like knocking out the plants in the food chain, many of the ideals that are being pulled out of the ground to dry up and die, may be the very thing that is sustaining the life of the system.