A bit of a speech Obama delivered Feb 19 in Houston, Texas has been on my mind because it reminded me of something I couldn't quite remember until today - a poem about possibilities.
Rudyard Kipling -
IF.....Barack Obama -
IF you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or being hated, don't give way to hating,
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise:
If you can dream - and not make dreams your master;
If you can think - and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build 'em up with worn-out tools:
If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: 'Hold on!'
If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
' Or walk with Kings - nor lose the common touch,
if neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And - which is more - you'll be a Man, my son!
And if we could just get beyondObama seems ubiquitous. If not himself, then the idea of Obama. As Dino Demopoulos of Chroma puts it: "Is there even a point in making the distinction? ... he has become a canvas for the projection of everything positive that Americans want to believe in... The idea of Obama is pretty compelling..." He has become "an open-sourced candidate. He can mean a lot of things to a lot of different people..." To illustrate his point, Dino sends readers to Barack Obama is your new bicycle and push refresh to get a new message of affirmation.
the divisions that have become
in our politics,
if we could bridge the divides
so that black, white, Hispanic,
Asian, Native American,
young, old, rich and poor,
if we could join together to challenge
the special interests in Washington,
but also to challenge ourselves,
also to challenge ourselves
to be better,
to be better neighbors,
to be better citizens,
to be better parents,
then I believe
there [is] no challenge we could not solve,
no destiny we could not fulfill.
Obama is not just a candidate for President of the United States, he is a branded commodity. But a brand speaking a language viscerally understood by millions in the Western world, especially in the Anglo-American world. He is criticized for being an empty suit and a stuffed shirt at once; a man of style, but no substance. His words ring hollow without the one thing that gives them meaning, the one thing that has always offered comfort - hope.
Many before him have had the same and worse said about them. Some have been killed for the seemingly empty promises offered to the star struck and yearning masses:
And so I tell you, keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened. - Jesus of NazarethI do not mean to endorse Barack Obama, merely try to understand the phenomenon that is Obama. He cannot be dismissed out of hand because within the nebulous ideas are the seeds of this nation stretching back to the Magna Carta, The Mayflower Compact, The Declaration of Independence, The Gettysburg Address, I Have a Dream and all the way to our own day.
Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe to assure the survival and the success of liberty . . . Let the word go forth from this time and place, to friend and foe alike, that the torch has been passed to a new generation of Americans - born in this century, tempered by war, disciplined by a hard and bitter peace. - John F. Kennedy
Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. Hate multiplies hate, violence multiplies violence, and toughness multiplies toughness in a descending spiral of destruction....The chain reaction of evil -- hate begetting hate, wars producing more wars -- must be broken, or we shall be plunged into the dark abyss of annihilation. - Martin Luther King, Jr.
With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in; to bind up the nation's wounds; to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow and his orphan - to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace, among ourselves, and with all nations. - Abraham Lincoln.
To deprive a man of his natural liberty and to deny to him the ordinary amenities of life is worse then starving the body; it is starvation of the soul, the dweller in the body. - Mohandas Gandhi
Hope and an unshakable belief in the possibilities of tomorrow that is the heritage of America is what is being offered by Obama. We all feel it to some degree, but for many of us, there must be more, something more solid, more substantive, more factual - something more than hope.
The life of Indigo Red is full of adventure. Tune in next time for the Further Adventures of Indigo Red.