Thursday, 6 November 2008

One day you wake up, and the world feels different

You were there. So was I. Where I was, it was about 6am. We'd been at a flat, at a bar, at another flat - following the results around like bees polonating. At every new television set, it just got sweeter. Barack Obama was going to be the 44th president of the United States.

I was watching the results on BBC, and as soon as the results rolled in, the station took a typically British approach to good news. "Oh yes, of course, this is a historic occasion, but can he really fulfill his promise? How will he deal with the millions of first time black voters who think the man can walk on water?" It seemed a distinct downer as voice over for those buoyant images of Americans celebrating. One commentator said as much, "Yes, yes, of course it will be hard, of course he has a lot to do. But for now, let's just sit back and enjoy a moment that is, if nothing else, symbolic." There was a moment of calm, and on tv, the confetti continued flowing.

Symbolic is the perfect word for it - Even with my own lurking doubts, contrasting Obama's flash with the loomingly dull recession - I found myself truly moved for the very first time by a symbol I had previously thought of as intensely irritating - The American Dream. Even a disappointed John McCain engaged in the moment's symbolic power, reminding that hissing right wing crowd that today America was delivering on its promise. Today America could truly say it was a land of possibility.

Symbols have the power to change. They change the way a country thinks of itself. They change a sense of esteem, a sense of core responsibility lurking very deep at the heart of a person's sense of nationhood, and their very sense of self. Engaged and inspired as we all were, Canadians, Europeans, Asians, South Americans and Africans alike, this symbol could change a sense of core responsibility worldwide. In 2000 it seemed that the world collectively had their hearts in their throats as we all watched democracy gone very very wrong. The feeling was like a bad ringing sound in the world's ear that got louder in 2001. We'd all resigned ourselves to it as an inevitable fact even as it was growing deafening by 2008. On Tuesday night the ringing stopped. And there was a powerful feeling that something had gone very very right. Democracy was back. It proved itself. And every person living in a democratic system in the Western World could suddenly hear their own voice clearly.

He can't walk on water - claims like those are a matter of faith. But Barack Obama has delivered the country something more ground-shaking, more integral. His team has shown us all that uniting and working together for a common goal does have results, results that pay off. Why did Tuesday give creedence to the stale cliche of the American Dream? Because finally, after eight darkened years, the Western World felt a sudden surge of hope. It was as light and indefatigable as the most ancient and guiding symbol of all... Dawn.

1 comment:

a/k said...

i love you lady! you have a way with words.. : precisely resounding my inner emotions.