January 19, 2009

Sea-Change

William Shakespeare poetically wrote of a sea-change. By definition it means; a profound or notable transformation. I have come to believe Barack Obama embodies a much needed sea-change that will benefit America and the world.

I have struggled with how to express my feelings about the inauguration of our 44th President. How to speak of the days importance without placing emphasis on the color of Barack Obama's skin. How to separate that from the world wide feelings of hope and good will he has instilled before ever taking office; the promises he has made that speak to my concerns and heart; and the open armed approach he has taken to creating a unified government in vastly challenging times. Something beyond the phrase, "I never dreamed in my lifetime"' which so many keep repeating, myself included. And yet I can't, in this moment, separate the man from the complexities of his race. 

So I am biased. Biased because of what I remember; two distinct sides of my small rural California community all through the 1950's, the right side and the WRONG side; traveling to TX when I was eleven and hearing racial conversation that had me challenging adults who I loved and receiving swift punishment for it; not even noticing, until we all funneled into Jr. high school, that I had been attending an all white grammar school in a town that wasn't; having relatives insist we be reseated in a restaurant because the family of four seated beside us weren't "like us"; in the 1960's having friends of color in high school who had to sever our friendship due to pressure from their community; getting roughed up on a school bus over the same issue; encountering signs reading "no Negroes allowed"; having friends extracted from their car by the police, thrown around and accused of theft because "this isn't yours, you couldn't afford it"; and on and on. 

Those events, in contrast to the bigger things taking place in those years, sound almost trivial. Heinous acts were committed against Americans of African descent. John Kennedy was alive when I went to my eighth grade Spanish class, then dead as I made my way to PE. There and gone, like my legs when the news came over the loud speaker. That death set the tone for what was to come. As history shows, over the following years "racial unrest" and the Vietnam war drove the news. So many were lost; Martin Luther King, Robert Kennedy, 58,913 US men & women who served in Vietnam, folks who were peacefully protesting and/or fighting their way out of discrimination hell, and others dying because they believed in peace rather than war. Riots, standoffs, campus shootings, rights lost and rights gained. Issues crisscrossing each other into time lapse knots. As the years passed, some things ended while others ever so slowly changed.

On inauguration day, as President Elect Obama takes his oath of office, this good and wise man carries the support of the nation as he faces a bottomless list of emergencies and pressures. I believe he is the right person for the job at exactly the right time. We aren't setting the wrongs right placing him in office, but it is a another step in the right direction. I'm awfully proud of the United States today and I haven't been for a long while now. Let go of your handle bars America, throw your arms open wide, pedal fast and let the wind take your hair. This is the day of a hands free celebration of hope! The Sea-Change is underway. Safe journey Mr. President!

Now I've been happy lately
Thinking about the good things to come
And I believe it could be
Something good has begun
I've been smiling lately
Dreaming about the world as one
And I believe it could be
Something good's bound to come

For out on the edge of darkness
There runs the peace train
Peace train take this country
Come take me home again

PEACE TRAIN by Cat Stevens

2 comments:

Vicki said...

Written beautifully! I agree, the train is running in the right direction and hopefully everyone will stay on it this time! When I was in London I had a fantasy of running into Yusuf Islam and thanking him for making music again and continuing to spread peace and telling him how much the world needs to hear his music. I also wanted to tell him about New Year's Eve in 1978 when I won a dance contest (coincidentally dancing with a guy named Cat) and the prize was his album Foreigner and how that album got me through the good, bad and ugly times of life. It never happened, but if Barack Obama can get elected as President of the United States, anything is possible!!

Chris Flips said...

Wonderful, hopeful outlook.
My hope is that our president will cause us to look at "change" as something we make rather than something that is made for us or delivered upon us. I am encouraged that our president gets this, and will help many of us untie ourselves from the mast or pull ourselves from the warm confines of the cabin below. In a sea change, we have to get out on deck, spit into the wind, grab a line and keep pulling, steering and assisting those who are desperately seasick and clinging the rail. Color, race, religion and shoe size are interesting traits that characterize our sailors and shape our ship. But it's the sea that deserves our utmost attention. And the sea does not care about those things.
Andrew Young said it well: "He (Obama) has never set himself up as a savior of the world. He set himself up as someone who articulates and represents and can hopefully lead us to be the best America we can be... He isn't just black; he's an Afro-Asian-Latin European. That means he's a global citizen and an all-American boy. He defies categorization."
With his hand at the helm, let's hope we can climb aboard, right the battered ship and start paying more attention to the sea than the trivia of how we and our crew mates look in the mirror.

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