I spent the first half of it in Georgia visiting my last living brother who is suffering from a rare form of cancer, then back to my ten-year-old who came down with bronchitis, and the first day he can finally go play with a friend there’s an accident with some furniture (!) and he ends up with five stitches over his left eye.
All these sad but human occurrences were mostly being suffered by others, my brother, my little boy, but my heart hurt nonetheless. As it does more and more as I get older and appreciate the overwhelming struggles most of us our faced with in the course of a life, or even one week in a life. And somehow that fed into my being as impressed as I have been so far by Barak Obama’s speech in Richmond, Virginia last night after he won all of yesterday’s primaries and caucuses.
Even though I appreciate my friend and mentor Hubert Selby Jr.’s dismissal of “hope” as an avoidance of the reality of the moment we are living, I also appreciate Barak Obama’s seriously inspiring use of “hope” as an instigator of action, as he expressed so powerfully and beautifully in last night’s speech.
His candidacy does represent something more than merely “change” in the appearance of the person who might be president, whether the first female, the first African-American or the oldest (John McCain, a change from his party’s recent years of corporate shills), but a deep acceptance of the reality of our changing society and world in ways the current failed administration never understood or cared to.
I watched it with my little boy, whose beautiful face now has the mark of experience that makes little boys imagine scars as badges of some kind of masculine honor. And thought, what a beautiful balance Obama’s candidacy brings to the darker projections of the world he’ll inherit. And I was happy to be a witness to that process of inspiration and hope, no matter how it ultimately turns out.
The flame has been lit, as it was by others throughout history, who didn’t necessarily achieve their ultimate goal, but nonetheless inspired others to continue to work for it and sometimes finally achieve it (the abolition of slavery, the end of legally enforced segregation, voting rights for women, etc. etc.).
As the crowd intermittently chanted, and my son asked what they were shouting: “Yes we can, yes we can, yes we can.” And as Obama pointed out, he’s the living proof of that. Amen.