However lame my attempt at documenting bits and pieces of our life has been of late, it would be an incredible oversight to not have commented on the enormity of the history that has been made with the election and inauguration of President Barack Obama. I have been surprised at the level of emotional impact it has had on me and the degree in which it has enabled me to shift my views about our country and our future to include glimpses of positivism.
The obvious initial enormity, and perhaps the explanation for a good amount of the emotional tears I shed, is that a whole generation of youth of many colors are now being raised with the actualization of at least one of the dreams of the civil rights movement. I don’t mean to imply in any way that our nation doesn’t yet have a long way to travel on the path to ending racial divides and discrimination, but that my daughter gets to grow up in a world where this barrier was broken and where a man of color is valued at this level for the content of his character by a majority of our nation gives me great hope for the future.
My daughter was born during the 2nd month of George W. Bush’s first term. I was in the middle of a mom and baby yoga session with the 7-month-old version of her when the towers fell on 9/11/2001, after which our country’s rhetoric and actions in the international scene surpassed even my wildest nightmares of what a rogue bully might look like, and did so with the accompaniment of much flag-waving from a citizenry that in large part seemed to buy into the ideals of invasion, war and hate in the name of preserving “the American Way”. I say this not in any way to condone the events of 9/11 or to minimize the profound loss experienced by so many, but I have been completely unable to understand why we as a nation have seemed unable to look at ourselves in the Global mirror to reflect upon what has bred the kind of anger that fueled that and other terrorist actions. Instead, we have chosen to give the world an even heavier dose of the same, and have taken it upon ourselves to effect unilateral decisions and to continue to assert our (political and) economic goals at the expense of others.
It is heartening to hear a leader who isn’t putting the same rhetoric out into the world, and who seems to understand the need to extend a hand of partnership before marching out with guns blazing. I am encouraged to hear someone who seems even moderately aware of the extraordinarily large footprint we make ecologically and economically on this Earth, and is interested in investigating alternatives over preserving the status quo. I’m further heartened by his ability to convey not only a positive message, but also a pragmatic assessment of the place in which we currently find ourselves as a nation. Most of all, I’m hopeful about his ability to convey the difficult message to the people of this country that he comes to this role as a leader and not a savior — that we all need to be engaged in the business at hand. The amount of people who have already been mobilized by his message to participate in the election and inauguration process is, I hope, an indication of a beginning of standing up to participate in the world in a new way.
To participate in a shift of culture from war-think to peace-think, from consuming to preserving, from pursuing self-interest to caring for the global community — these are the greatest gifts that we can give to our children and our children’s children.
I am hopeful, and maybe even cautiously optimistic. I won’t be belting out the Star-Spangled Banner on any streetcorners, but I can bear to look at the flag and feel something postitive. And that is indeed big news.
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