Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Feeling Hopeful



I was born in a year of great hope, but also a year of great despair. I was born on John F. Kennedy's birthday in the year that Martin Luther King Jr. gave his famous speech at the March on Washington. However, it was also the year that JFK was assassinated. I think I carry within me, both the hope of King and the loss of innocence and birth of cynicism that happened when JFK life ended.

Despite having my political ideas and ideals, I tend not to consider myself to be a political person. I tend to let the cynical side have free reign these days - believing that those with money control politics and that there is little that those without can do to affect change. Mostly that's what I believe.

However, occasionally, the hope that was born into me in 1963 gets to catch on to something and grow. I can remember as a kid, feeling excited about George McGovern running for President. Feeling, while still be too young to understand all the implications, that someone was running who wanted to make things good for everyone.

I've looked back on those days, as being a time of blind optimism, youthful ignorance - a time before I understood that there are those in power who need for there to be those who suffer, so they can maintain their empires.

And over the years, since my bubble was burst with the election of Nixon, I think I've become less and less concerned about what politicians do to this country. I still vote in every election because I believe that too many people fought for my right to vote for me to not do it. However, it's been mostly a symbolic gesture. Not one that I truly believed carried any weight or would make any difference.

When the rumblings started that Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama would each run for President I felt a little spark of hope - barely a glimmer. These are people who could changed make real changes. Just the very act of being in office - almost regardless of what they did there, could make a change.

And, honestly, at first, I thought - "Eh, I'll take either one." Obama with his dynamic charisma was enticing - but I worried about his lack of experience, and about how much the attitudes and prejudices of people in this country would have to change to elect a Black man.

Hillary - well her no-holds-barred ambition was exciting. Yet I was concerned about how much people seemed to resent her as a woman with such ambition and strength.

For a long time, I could clearly see the pros and cons of each and refused to choose between them.

But then two things happened. One was that Hillary, on her own, through Bill Clinton and others, started saying things about Obama, or about his comments, or making historical references, that just didn't sit right with me. And I realized something about her ambition, which I had previously admired, which made the glimmer of hope within me fade.

Hillary will do anything to get what she wants. She will throw others to the wolves if it will save her own skin. And while I want an ambitious President. I also want a compassionate and thoughtful one. I started to feel that if she was willing to trash MLK to take down Obama, she might one day be willing to trash education funding to get a healthcare plan. And that's politics as usual. Building up with one hand, while tearing down with the other. Playing the game the same old way. Rather than bringing a woman's sensibilities to politics, I feel like she's become a good old boy in a dress.

The other thing that happened is that I started to listen to Barack Obama more. Now, let me tell you - that man must have speech writers who are channeling the spirits of JFK's speech writers and MLK. The words coming out of his mouth, and of course the way he says them, give me shivers of hope from head to toe - almost against my cynical will.

He makes me want to get up and DO something. Makes me believe - or at least want to believe that I CAN do something and that it WILL make a difference. He's made the glimmer of hope within me burn bright enough that cynicism can't shadow it anymore. If he's doing that to other people then he really can create change. Because, for most of my life people who want change are those outside the system - and those within the system have been busy keeping the status quo by squashing those who want change things. Suddenly there's this man who wants to bring change to the system. A man who looks to inspire those who want change rather than to squash them.

Oh yeah, I can't help but feel hope when I look at and listen to someone like that. So, I'm going to move forward with the hope and push the cynicism into the shadows. Tuesday I'm pulling that lever for Barack Obama and I'm going to believe that change is happening and will continue to happen. That the amazing hope that seemed to die out in the 60's was merely slumbering and that Barack Obama has awakened it and will fulfill it's promise.

My cynical side says I'm being blindly optimistic and naive. I think my cynical side should shut up already.

3 comments:

Dogon said...

u should u should read my new post on his wife

Torrance Stephens bka All-Mi-T said...

hey, i wanted t thank u for your prayers

The Bear Maiden said...

You hadn't written in so long I'd given up looking over here! But hellyeah! Tonight, after he swept the Potomac Primaries, I stood in the kitchen, in awe, watching his little speech. Yes, I got those little shivers, and yes... my cynicism kicked in because he's got his little chant going "Yes we can!" and I hear all the marketing and advertising and I know it's hokey.

But it's freakin' COOL!

And what a beautiful thing for my Sun to see a brown man on TV, changing America before our very eyes.