Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The Meaning of Hope

500 years ago, you’d be called a flat-out lunatic if you had the radical notion that the earth revolved around the sun (still, however, we pretend like it doesn’t: the sun “rises” and “sets”). 100 years ago, you’d be quickly dismissed if you thought that human beings could fly. And less than a few weeks ago, you probably still couldn’t convince people that the United States of America would elect someone other than a white male to be president.

Yet, it has happened. And it happened regardless of all the (obscene) un-truths spreading around, the idea that Obama isn’t a natural-born citizen, that he’s a radical Muslim, that once he’s elected president, the U.S. will become a Marxist haven that has abortions every day on the White House lawn while pledging allegiance to France…naked.

America has chosen change, and, as John McCain said Election Night, the people have spoken, and they have spoken clearly.

We’ve not just chosen change: we’ve chosen hope. And we’ve chosen to believe in Barack Obama’s own words: “In the unlikely story that is America, there has never been anything false about hope.”

But it’s even more than that. We’ve chosen, as a people, to stick our necks out, and dare to dream. To imagine that the world is circular, not flat; that the center of the Universe is nowhere near our piddly little planet; that we can travel to the skies, and beyond; that pompous, middle-aged white male farmers are not the only ones deserving of citizenship in this great country.

We’ve chosen to move forward, so that our children can live in a world better off than how we found it, not worse.

Barack Obama is not the Savior, he’s not the end-all-be-all. It’s not “In Obama We Trust.” But he’s always said this election wasn’t about him; it’s about us. As Gandhi said: We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. And we've chosen to hope.

Just as Galileo chose to hope for a world that realized its place in the Cosmos. Just as Martin Luther King, Jr. hoped for a country that judged people by the content of their character, first and foremost. Just as all those innovators through the millennia hoped for a better world...somehow, someway.

500 years from now, will the notion that people drive gas-guzzlers that get 15 mpg be laughable? 100 years from now, will the extreme nationalistic divide be considered the definition of "inappropriate" in the face of global threats in the form of self-destruction and climate crisis? A few weeks from now, will there finally be a realization that it might not have been the destruction of the Grand Ole’ Party, but more of the success of a junior senator from Illinois to inspire millions, that led to this new administration?

Let’s hope so.


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