Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Obama's hope

Hope flowing in the country from Obama’s inauguration feeds me despite my natural inclination to say “not so fast” to hope. I surrendered to the lure of radio and television yesterday recording the ebullient throngs in D.C.

Obama himself is the one who dampened expectations, as he has ever since he was elected. Soberly he reminded us of the “nagging fear that America’s decline is inevitable, and that the next generation must lower its sights.” When he declared that the challenges will be met, I thought, “addressed, not met.” We don’t know what our efforts will accomplish.

And it is OUR efforts. Like JFK he obliged all Americans to do the work of creating change. Our economic crisis he attributed to “not only greed and irresponsibility on the part of some, but also our collective failure to make hard choices.” Yes, for example, to stop plundering and polluting the earth

After the inauguration address, a conservative asked to comment on it objected to Obama’s advocacy of soft power. But I rejoice that he disparaged “missiles and tanks,” and said we are not entitled “to do as we please,” that “our security emanates from . . . humility and restraint.”

Furthermore, “we can no longer afford indifference to suffering outside our borders; nor can we consume the world’s resources without regard to effect.”

He sounded a recurrent theme of mine:
“We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus—and non-believers.” A good addition, that last. Those who profess no religious faith care passionately about our country and the world. Mentioning “the bitter swill of civil war and segregation,” he expressed confidence “that the lines of tribe shall soon dissolve.”

Rhetoric does not assure policy. I do not like some of his appointments but from Buddhism I’m learning to release attachment to specific results. What we know for certain is that Obama’s and our ideas of what should happen will not happen. May the hope of the last few days, however, move us to make the hard choices required for realizing a few of our dreams.

2 comments:

ddjango said...

This is a post filled with wisdom.

I didn't watch the inauguration speech. I'm not surprised it was so short and was pretty general. But I was happy, as were you, about his inclusion of non-believers. I also felt the joy and unity of the crowd (even down to Dubbleduh getting booed).

You made the point that rhetoric is one thing, action is another. And I have to admit that he made a good start by freezing Bush's exec. orders and restructuring the FOIA regs.

If he keeps that up, he'll be going in the right direction.

See? I'm not totally unreasonable.

Jeanette said...

ddjango is not unreasonable in the least, but he and I differed on Obama and hope. On his blog http://ddjango.blogspot.com/ (sorry, you'll have to highlight and paste this link) I learned that he'd given up hope and hadn't voted at all. Bad bad!!!

His response to my comment shows how reasonable he is. I totally agree with his agenda:

“If I had voted and voted for him, I would have been assigning the tasks of (1) totally repudiating the policies of both the neoliberals and neoconservatives, (2) prosecuting the latter for violating the constitution and committing war crimes, (3) recreating the social safety net, (4) disarmament, (5) withdrawing our military and closing our military bases at 800 sites around the globe, (6)regulating the hell out of the financial, pharmaceutical, energy, and environmental sectors, (7) nationalizing the healthcare system, (8) restructuring the tax burden to relieve the poor and working classes and tax the rich, (9) revoking 90% of the Patriot Act and relevant Executive Orders, (10) unravelling the evil web of "strategic alliances" with bellicose countries such as Israel, (11) rebuilding our fine old manufacturing sector, and (12) ensuring that all citizens are actually educated, rather than just trained to be fodder for consumerist capitalism.”