Friday, November 7, 2008
The Man With the Weight of the World on His Shoulders
So many thoughts about what America means to me have tumbled around my head in the past week. I needed to really understand them, weigh them, qualify them, allow them to be heard within, before I could write this post. I needed to come down from the high. Not completely, though. If it were just a singular high, a zero-calorie burst of excitement, I would feel the same today about my country as I did a month ago. But something really and truly is forever changed.
Obama walked into Grant Park on Election Night, casual-like, as though he were walking into his own living room. And isn't all of America his living room now? Yet his face and his demeanor spoke of something else, something more humble than victory. He looked like a man carrying the weight of the world on his shoulders.
He never promised us he would get the job all done on his own. He always said, "With your help." As I watched him enter Grant Park with his shoulders heavy, I heard the words inside myself, "How can I help?" This man has already proven his commitment to us; and while his victory inspires us all, it can't be an inspiration that we hang onto for just a single day. President-Elect Barack Hussein Obama is just ONE man. One man carrying the weight of millions of people who expect him to renew for us the American Dream, something that requires a lot more skill that renewing a library book.
My best friend said to me today "Don't you feel like you have your country back? I FINALLY feel attached to it now." Yes, yes, YES and YESSSSSSS. It isn't just about having Democrats back in the White House. I am not so naive as to believe it is really the party that makes all the difference -- Obama is going into the White House under the same system of politics as the last guy. But what Obama HAS done is remind us that this country is OURS. He has lit a fire under us. So I know now that the real specter of our time was not Republican rule by rich white guys, not even bureaucracy -- but APATHY.
No longer. We participated in the process; and democracy only exists with participation. I daresay with this new gift of the New Dream comes new and enormous responsibilities for all of us. It is as though we were all elected President that day. We all have a part to play. It does not end with voting. Yes, we have woken up. We have been reminded, by one great man, that the return of greatness to our nation -- yes, the American Dream -- is within our grasp if we dare to dream and we dare to reach for it. And only by participating do we extend our reach.
So we begin now. Not 74 days from now, not when it's time for another election. Not standing back and saying "Okay now, Obama will fix it." This is our country. This is our dream. It is our time to wake up and live that dream. To demand it of our legislators and Congresspeople and our local businesses and school boards. To pay attention to the world around us. To extend our hands to help our neighbors. To fill the volunteer positions that are everywhere to be found when we look. To donate our money and our efforts to local food banks and organizations as well organizations that assist people in other nations, such as Kiva, Women for Women International and the many others doing great work across the world. Be civic minded. Demand civics education be returned to our school curriculums. Stop thinking in black and white, Republican vs. Democrat, stop thinking about drawing those lines in the sand.
If you have yet to visit change.gov, I urge you to go. See what Obama has outlined for us. See what you can do. He believes in an open government and wants to hear your ideas and your concerns.
But whatever the new dream means to you, make a commitment, today, not tomorrow, to not return to apathy; to keep the Obama family in your prayers and daily surrounded in light, as they are now our family; to participate in the reach for the American Dream that is not just yours but also your neighbors', your friends', your co-workers', and belonging to conservatives and liberals alike. If we all step up and do the work, there is simply nothing we as a nation cannot achieve.
I want to thank those people around the world who have been watching us and who have been hoping and praying for us to have this chance. Let us show them it was not a wasted chance.
In the words of Bill S. Preston, Esq: Be excellent to each other.