This post has been about six days in the making. For those of you who known me for very long, you know that I’ve been a huge fan of Barack Obama from the beginning. In fact, while I wasn’t a hefty blogger in 2004, it was then that began to talk about Barack.
Over the last several years, the lead into this election has been played a huge role in my heart and mind. I have been following blogs, reading, writing, praying, hoping and dreaming about what this time could mean. Well, needless to say, that time is over and now, all of us get to see and experience what is to come.
What I failed to recognize during this time was just how much a part of my identity and life Barack’s story was having. I’d hear him talk, I’d get fired up, and I’d share the wealth. I’d listen to pun dents, think about a rebuttal, and then engage. I’d re-listen to his speeches, think about their application, and then find ways to put that hope into practice. Yes, the last few years have been deeply forming for me.
I share this with you now because since Tuesday night I’ve been an emotional basket-case. Every time I think about what has just happened I begin to tear up. Every time I hear Barack’s voice, I tear up. Every time I listen to people talking about how this election has shaped them, yep, I tear up. But greater than success, greater than inspiration, I think I am tearing up because somewhere deep inside my spirit recognizes that regardless of whether you voted for Barack Obama or not, this election was about more than just about a political transfer of power. Somehow, deep inside I truly came to understand what it meant to be gifted with a new narrative by which to live.
You see, you don’t have to be very old to remember that so much of the world’s narrative has been shaped by the events September 11th 2001. In America specifically, these events, as tragic as they were, gave shape to a new way of defining oneself in America. And while they brought some people together, these events “othered” those who did not seem to appear as “American” in culture or heritage. September 11th also gave way to a new way of being experienced as American abroad. America went to war in an effort to secure its borders and as a result over time ended up isolating itself over time.
But November 4th 2008 has gifted America in the world with a new kind of narrative. For the first time since Sept 11th 2001, we have a new story to define ourselves by. Sure, some are going to miss this. Hiding behind the fear campaigns of religious fundamentalism and fear mongering, many are doubtful that the Obama story will actually bring anything good to America. But be not afraid!! There are many many more who have seen and prayed to experience all the more the hope that has been aroused within us. We believe that change has come and is coming more fully to America. Critics, be not mistaken: this hope is not merely in President-Elect Obama, but because of the hope, unity, and possibility that Obama awakened in us that we are so inspired! The next few months and years are not necessarily going to be the easiest; however, for many of us, there is room to hope that one day, “we as a people will get there!”
In conclusion, here are a couple of things I think we have to remember about Obama’s leadership to come:
1. I suspect Obama will remind us in a few short weeks that this has never been an election about him getting to do stuff, but about us all getting to do stuff. He has one of the largest grassroots organization in the world today, and I suspect when mobilized, this movement of people is going to transform America for good!
2. I suspect for those who have huge expectations about Obama’s leadership, that it might be expected of him to change Washington. Guess what…it isn’t going to happen overnight. Re-adjust your expectations and know that change can come, but institutional change always takes time. In fact, I’d also suspect that this change will come because the hope that was inspired in us, has also been awakened in some who’ve been in Washington for a long time. Is that so hard to imagine?
3. Obama painted the picture for us on Tuesday that is so true. We’ve come a long way, but we’ve got a long way to go. Nothing breaks my heart, or the heart of so many others, more than to look around and see the injustices against the civil rights of so many that still exist in America today. Even from a humanitarian aid perspective, there are still so many who lack the basic needs for life in our American culture. While America always has been one of the most charitable movements of people on earth, she must wake up to the poverty, injustice, and tragedy of the stories within her borders if she is truly to remain a great nation.
I have to be honest, I’m not sure when the crying is going to stop. On the one hand, it kind of bugs me. But on the other, it feels so good to be able to experience the hope that has been awakened. To sense that in my time, greater things are still to come than have been seen before. We may not be there yet, we may not get there soon, but my friends, we are well on the way!
grace, peace, and hope for the journey…
ps and just because, here is President Elect Obama:
go in peace…