Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Bigger Than That

I just finished listening to Barack Obama speak about the Rev. Jeremiah Wright and the issue of racism in America and was astonished by his generous ability to take so powerful a campaign negative and turn it around into an inspirational vision of what needs to be done to achieve, here and now, "a more perfect union." It was, as one subsequent commentator put it, "a gift to this country," a model of how we need to address our issues around race.

I was happy that he declined to disown the Rev. Wright and that he managed to explain, with no hint of defensiveness, where the words of the infamous sermon came from. I was glad that he managed to spin those mean and angry words into an opportunity to get to the raw, beating heart of many of the problems and prejudices that threaten to poison our society. He spoke directly, without avoidance or denial, and laid out a number of truths about America that we have conspired to bury for too many years.

Will he still lose votes because of this absurd incident? Will the right-wing radio talk show hosts continue, for the rest of this election cycle, to replay the remarks of the Rev. Wright ad nauseam? No doubt. But Obama, in my view, made the best case yet for voting for him to become the next president of the United States. His breadth of understanding of his fellow humans and his authentic compassion for the predicament in which we find ourselves in the contemporary world separate him starkly from both Clinton and McCain. We need this man in the Oval Office, if we are to confront the pressing issues that we face.


Anonymous said...

I've not seen either speech (Since I watch virtually no TV) but that sounds like a nice example of refusing ot sink into the typical mire of politics. Wish more would do that.

John Torcello said...

Certain people are inwardly quiet and reserved even in their animated selves.

Obama may be that kind of person...

I’m talking about the kind of people that we often find ourselves lucky to find ourselves in their presence; we feel, from them and those around them, a sense of peace and calm; and hope!

These people seem to understand implicitly the invitation extended to all of us to accept the reality of how the nature of the persistence of change affects their own lives and the lives of others.

When I’m near one of these sorts of people, or later, upon reflection in my thoughts; I find they don’t ever seem to tire or express messages of disinterest; they’re always up for and about doing things.

But, oddly, these very same people often seem to act in a detached manner, sometimes seeming aloof, expressing little interest or desire in seeking out others’ approval, encouragement, or blessings. While, at the same time, willingly offering and sharing the warmth and kindness of their heart.

They commonly hold little value for or interest in the accumulation of things; though they exude an air of abundance, fulfillment and satisfaction in their apparent scarcity.

This strikes me as a means which helps them to avoid conjuring up feelings of hatred and anger and the resultant expressions of their associated negative thoughts and acts.

They are sensitive people; acutely aware of things around them; constantly addressing positively and actively the stimuli of their senses and intuition; rather than ignoring them. They encounter learning, new things, new ideas, new thoughts like a child; curious and inquisitive...happily willing to invest the energy and thought necessary to learn and expand their understanding further.

They are not about themselves; they do not spend time or energy ambitiously scheming how to be wealthy, more beautiful, escaping work or wallowing in self-indulgence. They are not naive; they see and readily accept the pain and suffering in life; recognizing this experience in others around them; always trying to help in any way they can.

If Obama - like his message - is authentic...then, he challenges us all to something better...

John Torcello

robin andrea said...

It was incredibly uplifting to hear Obama speak, and to tackle the issues of racism in our country. We would be a very lucky country if he were elected to be our next President. He would bring much needed compassion and coherence to the office, filling a void long left empty by this administration.

heartinsanfrancisco said...

It was a brilliant speech -- unprecedented in its honesty, transparency and courage.

I cannot imagine anyone with a heart and mind even considering a vote for anyone else.

Jay Andrew Allen said...

It was a powerful speech. It contained within its subtext as well a rejoinder for all of us to do a little better - to take on big challenges, even if we may fail in this particular moment.

So much of politics is focused on who's up and who's down. It's a mirror of our gladiator-oriented economy. Obama took a huge risk by tackling the issues, leaving it to Fate whether he secures the Presidency or not. You can tell by the powers that be who are trying to take him down - not just the conservatives, but his fellow Democrats - that this is truly an historic candidacy.

Obama's my guy. And he'll continue to be, even if the nomination is taken from him. This battle is bigger than all of us.

Mercurious said...

I agree. I came away after listening to his profoundly intelligent speech thinking that this indeed is the guy.

Nice blog you've got here. Glad to have stumbled onto you.

They call him James Ure said...

It was one of the best race and religion speeches in history and the best one that I've heard in my lifetime.

I appreciated how Obama likened his former pastors' comments to those of an out-of-touch family member. We all have them. My grandmother grew up when it was "o.k." to use the "N" word when talking about African-Americans.

She would say it now and then but never in a hateful context. Despite this I loved her greatly and see her as a hero.

August said...

His candour, elegance, and as you write, his breadth of understanding our current predicament, are unrivalled.

I'm sure there isn't a single person who can't relate to what he said about his grandmother. I've certainly heard ghastly comments from people I deeply care about.


Rebecca said...

I did not watch his speech. I chose, instead, to look for the transcript and read it. It was truly a beautiful, honest and meaningful piece of writing. I hope the orator did it justice ;) I believe this speech could not have been delivered by any other man of color in this nation. No other has the credibility that Mr. Obama has build for himself. I also believe it should be required reading for every single person in this nation. The truth it spells out may be disquieting, but truth nonetheless. The only way out of it is through it. The sooner we're in the better. (alanis morrisette)