If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away---Henry David Thoreau

Wednesday, November 5, 2008


I am more hopeful today for our nation than I have been in the past 8 years. Barack Obama was elected president of the United States last night! I have more hope because the reign of the Bush administration is coming to an end. These past 8 years have been a nightmare for progressive thinkers and peace activists, for our nation and the world. I have more hope because Obama represents something different from pre-emptive warmaking based on falsehoods, if-you're-not-with-us-your-against-us-axis-of-evil confrontational foreign policy, saber rattling toward Iran, alienation of our allies and the world from the U.S., Patriot Acts and domestic surveillance, curtailing of civil rights, trickle-down economics favoring the wealthy, Guantanamo Bay and Abu Graib violation of human rights, justification of torture, and an economic crisis! With any change in direction from all that, I am more hopeful.

I am more hopeful because we elected our first African-American president, which is without precedent. I am not so naive to believe that racism is now dead in our society or that Obama will not have to encounter the ugly face of racism while in office. But, I couldn't help but be more hopeful when I watched on TV the many tearful, proud, and beaming faces of African-Americans, Euro-Americans, Hispanics, and Asians in the U.S. and around the world, as it was announced that Obama would ascend to the highest office in the land, inspite of the obvious racism that was injected into the election. My hope is not so much in what I kept hearing about how African-Americans can aspire to be something greater than they could ever have imagined, though that can be amazingly inspirational. My hope is that race can become more a part of our national dialogue and that inequities caused by trickle-down economics and structural injustices, which inequiably impact people of color, might be addressed more directly.

I am hopeful because Obama, whose parents were of an interracial marriage, raised without wealth by his grandparents after his mother's death, a Chicago community organizer and first time young senator, a self-identified "black man" became president of the United States.

That's why I like Shepherd Fairey's widely recognized poster of Obama with the word "Hope" underneath. It represents the hope of rising from obscurity to a place of pride and recognition for your gifts. Fairey, himself, rose up from being a skateboarder and guerilla street artist to instigating his worldwide "Andre the Giant has a Posse" sticker campaign to owning a printing company with clients like Pepsi, Hasbro, and Netscape and now for creating the most recognized visual image of the Barack Obama campaign (see Shepherd Fairey's work at: http://obeygiant.com/).

As we anticipate the next 4 years of an Obama presidency I am more hopeful, with a strong dose of realism, that we can visualize a future with the word "Hope" underneath.

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