Thursday, February 28, 2008

We Are the Ones

Andrew Sullivan and one of his readers have converged on the defining message and biggest promise of the Obama campaign:

The Obama model is: you will only get [positive change] if you stand up for it, risk your job, status, even life for the sake of your own integrity. Stop whining and start explaining and persuading and acting.

So many [well-meaning] people over the years have asked me where our "leader" is. It's the wrong question. We are the ones we have been waiting for. Be the change you want to see in the world. And the world changes. In exact proportion to the number of [well-meaning] people who have abandoned their fear and self-hatred, it already has. No excuses, guys. And no need to wait. [emphasis mine]
I've bracketed out the particular reference in quoting Sullivan -- he happened to be focusing on gay rights -- because the message applies across the board.

"We are the ones we're waiting for." I almost soiled myself with glee when I heard Obama use those words in one of his recent victory speeches. Be careful about spreading this around, but that is nothing more or less than humanism distilled to a single sentence (the idea that we are the ones we are waiting for not the stuff about soiling oneself. Humanism takes no stand on self-soiling.)


It is fair to ask if the USA is actually ready for this message. Do people really want to get off the couch and not only demand but work for something better in the realm of health care, the war in Iraq, trade agreements, environmental protection, etc.? Or would they prefer that someone in Washington handle such matters, and then claim the right to throw a snit when that doesn't work to their liking?

To be fair to the people on the couch, we do have a representative system in this country; it's not crazy for people to expect elected officials to represent their interests and priorities. But surely it is possible and worthwhile to aim higher than the Bush-Cheney junta, which asks nothing of people beyond going to the mall, whining for tax cuts, and becoming terrified of terror on cue.

One thing I know, or think I do: we will never hear anything like "we are the ones we are waiting for" from the McCain or Clinton campaigns. I don't know about you, but that's all I need to know.

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