Monday, February 2, 2009

After election elation

Someone called me after my bedtime and worried aloud about the country, a worry that also has preoccupied me lately. Many months ago when an Obama presidency became more and more certain, I steeled myself for disappointment that was sure to follow.

Obama appointees seem to have been tax evaders. Obama will pull out of Iraq as promised, but is stumbling toward a worse quagmire in Afghanistan. Obama economic gurus were part of the finance industry that got us into this mess. Obama closes Guantanamo but allows the possibility of secret abductions and transfers of prisoners to countries that torture. CIA to keep renditions tool.

Disillusionment.
Here are some reality checks:
• Radical reform bubbles up from the grassroots when people are ready for it. In the civil rights revolution, John and Robert Kennedy responded to demonstrators in the street. Civil rights for women resulted from gentler pressure, and today civil rights are slowly coming for gays, as those "on top," the so-called leaders, dare to do what's right because ordinary people want it. And we’re beginning to see Obama’s administration responding to grassroots revulsion over greedy grasping by financiers.

• Obama is trapped in an intricate web of government that preceded him. The most powerful man on earth has to dance to the tune in place or he won’t be powerful for long.

• The global economic system depends on myriad factors mystifying even to those who navigate it daily.

• Obama is human, influenced by those around him. I’d like to think he understands that and seeks input from ordinary people for that reason. So we need to comply with the administration’s requests, and we the people have to raise the consciousness of the nation.

• Good things already done include a declaration that diplomacy trumps militarism, appointing George Mitchell special envoy to the Middle East, decisive moves to protect the environment, moves away from torture and away from past preferences for polluters and the obscenely wealthy.

There is hope, as I was reminded suddenly in church yesterday morning. I fought tears when we sang the phrase, “Healer of our every ill,” and realized I’d again fallen into worried despondence, thinking it was up to human individuals to save the world.

Hoping for what we cannot see means awaiting it with patient endurance.
Romans 8:25

Hope is a thing with feathers
That perches in the soul
And sings a tune without words
And never stops at all. Emily Dickinson

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