Yesterday Barack Obama was elected the 44th President of the United States.
No matter what one might think of him as a person or leader, he emerges as a symbol, not only for the people of the United States, but of the world. Last night, there was a palatable sense of coming together – even from John McCain and some Republicans. There was also a sense of humility that Obama exhibited and a refreshing acknowledgement from a person who is now a world leader, that he would make mistakes and disappoint and that the change needed would take a lot of work, from everyone. Yet while acknowledging these realities, there was a deeper sense of hope that things CAN change, that dreams CAN become reality. And in this, Obama becomes a symbol of a much deeper reality. For once hope is enflamed, the energy to task is given and one can begin to rise, despite obstacles and see unthinkable dreams into reality. “To dream the impossible dream,” as the song goes from The Man of La Mancha is indeed a good thing. One must continue to dream, despite the obstacles, despite the opposition, despite what might seem an insurmountable wave of voices that say “no you can’t!”
I was struck by the diversity of ages, skin colors, economic brackets, sexual orientations and religious affiliations at Obama’s rally last night. There seemed no one group that was predominant, but a mix of people that is the face, the glory and the challenge of America.
What also struck me is that most of the unprecedented money that Obama raised for his campaign came from people who donated $200.00 or less. Not much big money, but a lot of small money, everyday people coming together with a little, created an unprecedented abundance. This too stands as symbol.
He is being touted as the first “African American President,” yet the symbol goes far beyond that. For in being Bi-Racial he creates within his own being and history a coming together of divergent cultures and world views. It’s not so much about being African American, or a woman, or gay, or Latino or a man – but it’s about being American and ultimately a citizen not only of this country but of the planet.
Again, no matter what one might think of the man, he stands as a symbol that anything we dream CAN become reality and that as small as we are, our voices DO matter.
What are the dreams that you have for the world? What are the dreams that you have for the country, our society, your church, our world? What are the dreams that you have for your self and your loved ones? Can I believe again that in the midst of the seemingly insurmountable voices that say “no you can’t,” we can say “yes we CAN!” (Barack Obama Acceptance Speech, November 4th 2008)