Friday, November 7, 2008

Turning back the darkness

I have a waited a few days, quite on purpose, before writing something about the elections this week in the United States. Tuesday night, there were no words. Lots of tears, high fives, laughter, and disbelieving joy, but no words. Tuesday, early in the day, I had told my wife that it was a magical time. I knew that much already, but I had no idea how amazingly powerful the feelings would be when the magic was made real that night.

In 1960, we entered Camelot, all of us as one. I was almost seven years old when JFK was inaugurated. It seemed, then, to my mind, that America did magic as a matter of course. That simple illusion was shattered in November, less than three years after, with his assassination. That seven-year-old boy who took magic for granted became a ten-year-old, disillusioned and disheartened child.

For decades, in the back of my mind each time we approached another opportunity to find the next great inspirational leader, I wondered if this would be the time when the magic was reborn. Over and over, the answer was not just no, but not even close.

Finally, it took the anti-magic of eight years, eight very long years, of government by deceit, election by fraudulent means and fear-based tactics, to force the magic out of hiding.

When Dubya was elected the first time, November of 2000, I told my wife that we would probably see someone better in the White House in four years, but if we didn't, it would mean that huge, tidal-wave-like change would be coming in 2008. I don't pretend to understand the universe, but I do know that it craves balance. The natural order of things is for one aspect to be featured, then to fall back as another aspect comes to the fore. And, when any one aspect so overruns the rest for a short period, its retreat is rapid and stunningly complete.

We are seeing the dénouement play out in our country right now, as the fall of the ideologues takes place even as inspirational leadership emerges from dormancy in the form of Barack Obama.

As Obama himself noted in his speech acknowledging his victory Tuesday night, it's not going to be sunshine and lollipops all the way through. There will be challenges met and challenges barely survived, joys in success and sadness in falling short as the Obama pages are writ in history. That's not the point right now, though; today, we feel a lightness in our souls, a refreshing new breath of sweet hope and honest willingness to leap in and help in whatever way we can.

You see, that's what we Americans bring to the table when we are at our best: a stubborn denial of impossibility as we bend our shoulders to the task, side by side. World, here we come, seeking to replace the bad taste we have left in your mouths with the new energy of a country reborn to heal the wounds it brought about over the last eight years. We know that our responsibility as the most powerful country on the planet is to humbly raise up our fellow citizens of the planet, not to lord our power over them. We know it is ours to share what we have with those most in need, to heal with our medicines those most sick, to feed those most hungry.

Yes, there is also a responsibility to be a fearless representative of the powerless, but we can accomplish much more in diplomacy than any amount of killing can accomplish. If we learned no other lesson--a lesson humanity insists on being taught over and over and over again--as we continue two wars, it is this one. It is a huge challenge to unwind the mess we have helped create in Iraq and to offer to both the Iraqi people and those in Afghanistan their countries back. The bottom line is, they get to choose. We cannot impose democracy upon them, and there is no sign I see that either country has any growing groundswell to support it. So be it. We need to return to the recognition that a sovereign country is entitled to determine its own destiny. The people in that part of the world have been at it ten times longer than we Americans have, so we need to respect their process, as mysterious as it seems to us.

For the coming change inside our own borders, we need stout hearts and steady hands. Much gnashing of teeth will be evident over the next couple of years because the financial situation is such a disaster. I am confident, though, that the hand on the tiller is one we can trust, as he is smart enough to enlist the very best of us to help him help us. And, here's where the magic comes in: the best of us are no less inspired than the average citizen! They, that elite, 'best of us' group, are equally willing to come to work, roll up their sleeves, and get the job done.

Those of us (please make careful note that I did not say, 'them' and quite on purpose!) who are not convinced of the shining promise of the future of America are best advised to calm down and give the new administration some time to show their mettle. As little as I wanted to, this is what I did in 2000. Not that I want to offer that example as one to emulate as to results, but if I could give Dubya a fair shot to show what he could do, then I think those of us who opposed Obama can manage the same allowance today. It's their choice, though...continuing to live in fear of what life has to offer is a strange choice, but it is a choice.

It is a magical time, world. It is a magical time we have awaited for many years, and it is here now. Come, play with me in the golden light of this magical time. It is a sense of this creative, playful nature which can influence our lives and bring stress to its knees. Magic is nothing more than our playful nature allowed full bloom.

Come. Play with me.


jylene said...

very, very, very good writing here, rick! thanks for sharing your beautifully generous views. this has been such an exciting week, and i haven't been this happy to be an american in a very long time. i have a burning desire to go out and buy flags and bumper stickers and wear red, white and blue! OXOXO

Lynilu said...

I've been saying similar things. We need to be patient, but while being patient, we need to do our own thing to support what is going on, not just expect miracles from the leadership. The new Prez and his cabinet can't do it all. We need to keep telling our legislators what we want and expect, over and over, if necessary to keep the momentum going from the roots.

Great post. You said it so much better than I have. :)

Rick Hamrick said...

Jylene--Thanks! I am also about as happy as I can imagine being, as I hope comes across in this post. It is, truly, a miraculous turn of events which is vitally needed not only here, but around the world.

Lynilu! Great to see you here. I'm glad you liked the post. I'll be honest: I think it is among the best I have written. Inspiration such as this comes along not all that often!

storyteller said...

Methinks many of us are thinking similar thoughts … yet it’s energizing to consider the possibilities … even knowing the road is long and winding … isn’t it? It’s been a long time coming …
Hugs and blessings,

Rick Hamrick said...

storyteller--let's hold those possibilities in our minds until we see them unfold in front of us!

Thanks so much for letting me know you were here.

Angela said...

Yes, it's a wonderful moment in which we are living. I seem to be sensing something in the past week that I haven't felt in quite some time. Is it? Could it be? Healthy pride in being an American?

Julie said...