Reaching Out To The Light In ’09
Wednesday - January 07, 2009
It’s 2009! And just in time, because we were really, really, really, really tired of 2008. I don’t know about you, but I am so ready for a fresh start. I think that maybe this year, we can start to get a few things right.
I believe in second chances. I’ve been blessed with a few myself - opportunities to correct mistakes, to change a trajectory, to make amends and to move forward in a direction of my choosing. Most of the major course corrections in my life have come at moments of personal peril. These were times when the choices seemed stark and simple, like the difference between light and dark. I could stay on the path and remain mired in the stultifying safety of sameness. Or - I could take a chance, venture off the path, and reach for an elusive pinpoint of light. It was the more frightening choice, but I have never regretted reaching for the light.
If there was anything in 2008 that should give us reason for optimism it was this: Millions of Americans soundly rejected the status quo and stretched eager hands toward the light. Fear no longer worked as a substitute for national policy. Hate was rendered less effective, although not completely ineffective, as a political weapon. And Barack Hussein Obama put to rest for good the notion that Americans are intractably racist and inherently intolerant.
Now, in 2009, we have the chance to prove that the changes we sought are more than skin deep. Everybody wants the “yes, we can” to win out over the “no, you can’t.” If we keep on ignoring the petty distractions and focusing on the big picture, it just may work. That means acting like adults. Tantrums, obstructionism, anti-intellectualism and simplistic, shallow emotionalism are, happily, out of style. Sophistication, diplomacy, intellectual rigor, curiosity and fair-minded reasoning are in.
The things that haven’t changed are the core values we’ve always shared - honesty, decency, idealism and the unshakable belief in our democratic way of life. These good old American values are treasured by people from all over the world, not just by those of us lucky to live in the U.S.A.
Change doesn’t mean instant success. A new president won’t make everything right. What he can do is take our newfound optimism and channel it to bring out our better selves. He can set the example - showing us that a pro-active, patient and pragmatic approach can actually make people want to work together to solve the enormous problems facing Americans and the world.
People are cautioning us that we expect too much of this fresh, young president-elect of ours. I think they miss the point. I think we’re smart enough to know that one man can’t solve all our problems. We chose him because we expect a lot more of ourselves. We chose a leader who reflects where we want to be - and who we want to be - in 2009 and beyond. We choose to reach out to the light.
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