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Too good to be true?

Posted in ideas, politics, views with tags , , , on January 22, 2009 by artofpeace

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While it’s true that I have not posted to this site in quite some time, I think the events of recent days have prompted me out of my philosophical slumber, so to speak.  Not in the usual ways that most people are rustling about.  Of course, I acknowledge the historical nature of the time, and the massive precedents set by the meteoric rise of a young upstart senator from Illinois, but I slowly feel that it is much bigger than all that.

I started this blog as a sort of survival tool, a way to combat the cynicism and darkness that I thought was creeping in from all areas.  Eight years of Mr. Shrub will do that to you, but it was also the feeling that throughout the world and this country, we had lost something.

I recently worked on a documentary called Tibet In Song that recently premiered at the Sundance Film Festival.  The filmmaker, Ngawang Choephel, had been imprisoned for six and half years by the Chinese government for simply documenting his native folk music.  A heart wrenching story, and one that really exposed to me the heinous nature of Chinese politics and Maoist paranoia.  My politics always being fairly progressive since college, I have many friends who to this day continue to espouse and adopt Marxist-Maoist principles around community organizing and the larger struggle of proletariat struggle for peasant/workers rights.  While I can see the relevance in the larger context of capitalist global exploitation,  this documentary also made it clear to me that some human issues go far beyond mere armchair politics.  I would include myself under the rubric of ‘armchair politician’ as I haven’t done much with my own politics of late.  The thing that I feel is lost in the mix as we look at issues around the world such as these, and the events in Gaza, Iraq, Darfur and elsewhere…is that we have lost basic civility and compassion for each other based on a broken sense of political self-righteousness.  The current mantra being: my might is what is right!

Now President Obama brings an interesting mix of influences to the most powerful office in the land.  Cutting his teeth in the hardball world of Chicago politics and the thankless grind that is community organizing, it is obvious from his first day that he is a keen power broker who knows very well the tendencies of self-righteous men and women easily deluded by the lust for comeuppance.  This is nothing new necessarily, as we have had presidents in the past who have made their way through the world dealing and ripping power with skillful abandon.  What makes Obama a president for the ages, and one that I am excited to watch for the next four to eight years, is his unique perspective on power.  When have we ever had a president who has any knowledge or idea what a Third World perspective is like?  Born in the island rhythms of Hawaii, and visiting his family in Kenya as a young man, there are obviously angles in his perspective that go beyond the lily white walls that he now inhabits, or the cutthroat political landscape of previous presidents and pundits.  He seems to be a president that can ‘imagine’ the view from below as he stands on high.

There is a humility in his nature, and a morality in even his first actions as president that give hope for a new kind of politics.  It is one in which truth and the rule of law are tantamount, a rare quality in politicians.  Having an individual of such intellect and wisdom is also a rarity.  If he continues to push for unity here in this country and around the world, the word ‘progress’ might cease from being the catch phrase that it has been for the last 10-20 years.  I do believe in him, but I know that there is a price.  The other shoe is waiting to drop any moment, and the bug of cynicism is always waiting to take center stage.  Until that moment comes, if it ever comes, it is a welcome sight to see a president who might embody the qualities that all good men and women and this world strive for: compassion, understanding, and empathy.  Let us all support him in the spreading of these virtues and try to see if we can salvage something from the human experience to move us forward.

Meanwhile, could someone pinch me so I can wake up already?

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