Monday, November 10, 2008
I couldn’t be luckier being based in Illinois and able to vote on November 4th 2008. At approximately 10pm CST, Barack Obama was declared the next President of the United States. Five days later, the excitement is still palpable and the pride (at least of his supporters like myself) is unwavering. I feel it is quite reminiscent of the 1986 People Power in the Philippines. Yes, I was a bit too young then to participate in the rallies but old enough to remember how it all felt, the feverish intensity and the undeniable sense that something bigger than yourself has happened. Something has shifted and a sense of awakening washes all over you.
The magic that surrounds Barack Obama is both about charisma and everything else that is legitimate about a world leader. Therein lies the beauty of this phenomenon that is Obama. He inspires with unequivocal truth. Listening to him, being in his presence, makes you feel that you want to be and that you actually are part of something great; that something amazing is about to unfold in the world; that you cannot deny that your higher self is being summoned and cannot help but respond to the moment. You cannot deny this even if you wanted to because every tiny hair on your nape and your arms are raised and your spine tingles as you listen to him speak and feel every word resonate within you with much power. It is real. He is real. And this inspiration that he awakens among so many of us is both inexplicable yet the most sensible that I’ve seen in years. To some extent, it almost feels blasphemous talking about Barack as if he were a prophet. But is it really so bad to speak of him with such high regard when his message does echo that of the prophets?....messages of hope, justice, equality, unity and healing. It doesn’t help that he is also one of the most eloquent public figures of our time. It is true. You cannot deny greatness.
That is what you feel when you are in this man’s presence. You just know that there is a greater spirit about him, enveloping him and washing over you in the process. He has clearly become a beacon of hope, proving that possibilities do exist and can be realized despite adversities. He has proven that character and substance make one blind to skin color or race. He has shown that despite the ugliness in this world, the destruction that we’ve all contributed to in some way or another, we can all still advocate change and rebuild. We have it within ourselves to transform and desire something else, something other than what we have gotten used to, something other than fear. For indeed this is what this election seems to be about. It was a choice not only between the old and the new, but of hope and fear, self and the larger community, tradition and reinvention, apathy and empowerment. Obama’s belief in change coming from the bottom-up requires hard work yet it is the only one that truly makes sense. His policies reflecting some degree of redistribution of wealth, to me, is a no-brainer, seeing where greed has brought this world to. His emphasis on service, responsibility and looking after others and not just ourselves is energizing and one that brings all of us back to what we’ve always known but were too selfish to practice. Him saying (during his speech in Grant Park as President Elect) that “the true strength of our nation comes not from the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals: democracy, liberty, opportunity, and unyielding hope” reflects much humility and wisdom that can only come from a great leader, a TRUE leader in every sense. This kind of voice is one that the rest of the world would be more receptive to and thus makes me want to believe that peace is indeed achievable.
In spite of this euphoria and positivity that I now simmer in, I will not kid you, nor myself, into believing that real change will come soon. Again I am reminded of how the ‘Spirit of Edsa’ slowly disappeared into oblivion after a few years of hardships. After a while, people just treated it as a memory, even questioned if it was all just imagined, constructed and endlessly reconstructed until nobody was sure of its real form or being. But every so often, even amidst hopelessness, extreme poverty and chaos, you still see glimpses of it, just enough for you to be assured that the Spirit is real and that it lingers on in the heart of the Filipino. I have the same hope for the inspiration that Barack Obama has brought the world. I know that racism still exists. I know that there are still countless people choosing fear, choosing to hold on to selfishness, greed, division and ignorance. I know that there will always be those who will never choose to open their minds and continue to wish for Obama’s failure. But I also know that there is goodness that binds us all. I am certain that at our very core, we all desire light and strive to evolve into our best selves. This does not need magic. What it needs is a determination that cannot be drowned by any form of suffering; a kind of inner strength that is not fuelled by anything other than genuine hope. Barack Obama is a strong impetus for change. But now each of us needs to stand and shout with him to always say, “Yes We Can”!