Saturday, January 5, 2008

Barack Obama, the Hope Singing Inside Me, and a Spirit of Unity

The following is written by my dear friend Valarie Kaur, writer/producer of the amazing documentary Divided We Fall; Americans in the Aftermath.

Hey everyone,

I woke up this morning a mess of nerves, and I realized it was because the Iowa caucuses are tonight. I walked along the ocean and prayed hard, and then I realized that perhaps my prayers would be better served if I shared them. I thought I would start with my friends.

My days protesting the war in college left me deeply disillusioned with politics and the political process. In a chance meeting with John Kerry when he was running, I told him this. He told me not to be disillusioned. That still didn't change anything.

For the last year and a half, many of you know I have been traveling with the film all over the country talking to people. All kinds of people. Students, liberals, conservatives, evangelicals, believers, nonbelievers, immigrants, people in the south and the north, white people, black people, and everyone in between. And I discovered I was not alone. Whether in a red state or blue state, a small town or a big city, I heard the same thing -- people are tired. People are tired of war and car bombs and coffins. People are tired of the environment going to hell, terrorist threats, and hearing about how the world hates us. People are tired of hearing how divided we are. And the funny thing is, I began to see how we are all united in this longing -- this ache -- for something better. We are aching for a better country, a country where we can be seen for how we see ourselves. And for personal authentic leadership to take us there.

The cynical part of me believes that this is not possible. It's the same part of me that shrinks away from turning on the news. The part that would rather not hear about the violence in the world than face my own smallness to it. But there is another part of me buried deep inside...

A few weeks ago, I heard Barak Obama speak. With an edge of fatigue in his voice, he spoke with passion and conviction. He spoke about his own impossible journey and his vision of unity. I heard my voice in his voice. He saw what I saw. He wanted what I wanted. His vision was my vision. And he could be president. Despite myself, I began to cry. Had it been this long since I felt any faith that my country could produce a leader who spoke my truths?

I could be wrong. He could not be the one. All I know is that the part of me that was buried is alive and singing. It is the hope in me. It is the dreamer who sings. He could be president. He could change the world. I could change the world.

And so I read his books, learn his positions, watch speeches, make donations, talk to people. This is the first holiday season my family did not have a political argument. For the first time in our adult lives, my Republican father and I want the same person to be president. I take it as a sign. The very best article I have read about why Obama should be president was written by a conservative commentator -- his reasons are mine:

"At its best, the Obama candidacy is about ending a war—not so much the war in Iraq, which now has a mo­mentum that will propel the occupation into the next decade—but the war within America that has prevailed since Vietnam and that shows dangerous signs of intensifying, a nonviolent civil war that has crippled America at the very time the world needs it most. It is a war about war—and about culture and about religion and about race. And in that war, Obama—and Obama alone—offers the possibility of a truce."

Thanks for reading this. And whoever you choose to support, may there be a bit of hope singing inside you. It's a bright shiny new year.


1 comment:

studio viriditas said...

I agree with Valerie--We are all tired of the way things are, and where they seem to be headed. My views on the candidate who is best to help our country fix itself differs from hers (Go Ron Paul!), but our pains and our hurts are the same. I empathize so much!

Someone needs to help stabilize and unite our country, and I hope whoever makes it in will do their best. (And won't bankrupt us into oblivion.)

Love ya, Penny!