Thursday, June 5, 2008

The view from the mountaintop

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once famously stated that he'd had a dream about reaching the mountaintop and seeing a brand new day from that lofty vantage point. He predicted he would probably not be allowed to get there with us, but urged us to strive on without him. Has that day finally arrived? Well no, not quite. But it certainly does seem to be in spitting distance.
It was a fairly big deal when America's first handicapped president was elected. The selection of the first Catholic to rule from the oval office was a major leap of faith. A non-Christian U.S. president would signal the dawn of a new day far surpassing our current willingness to support Israel. Perhaps we'll never have a president who was not born an American citizen, so Arnie will have to settle for governing California and being a Kennedy-in-law. Eventually a woman will become commander in chief, an event that will be both transcendant and transformative. I know it pains many that it will not be happening this year. But as I see it, no greater leap can be taken by this country than the one from kidnapping Africans from the cradle of civilization and forcing them into bondage and servitude to the day when the first African American takes the oath of the highest office in the land. That occassion will be beyond epic, beyond description until seen with our scarcely believing eyes, yet it may only be months away from becoming reality.

Senator Barack Obama's work is not yet done of course. There's still the pesky general election to compete in. The Republican party will throw everything they can at him. Will more Reverend Wright-like stories emerge after extensive digging into his past and present? Will a smear campaign be effectively waged that appeals to the darker nature of people who fear difference and reject legitimate integration of our society? When the votes of democrats, republicans and independents are all added together will there be enough Americans willing to hand over the role of commander in chief to a black man? No matter how inept President George W. Bush has been and how closely the democrats manage to tie Senator John McCain to his failed policies and stubbornly wrong mindset, will racial bias (never mind that he is biracial, aka half white) or an idiotic insistence that nobody with a name like his can really be a Christian(religion probably being the only disqualifier even more potent than race) cause this country to elect more of the same old same old over the potential for legitimate change?

I say potential because who knows how much Obama would actually be able to change and accomplish as president. In four years he'd certainly get some important things done, such as getting us out of an unnecessary war for starters. Given eight years he might be able to significantly alter the way the business of politics is conducted in our nation's capital. Then again, his noble intentions may simply run into roadblocks he'll be unable to hurdle. Or worst case scenario, his strongest detractors could prove to be right and it will turn out that Obama is basically a self serving smooth talker no different than the typical politician, merely having a better tan.

From what I've been able to glean from his words, stated in debates and interviews and speeches as well as written in his books, Obama is a fine man who I believe can be a great president. What I also understand is that the day an African American holds the highest position in this land is the day that monumental metamorphosis will begin to take place in inner cities throughout this great and greatly improving land. No longer will a little black boy or girl say that at best they may be able to someday become a basketball player, or a singer/actor/strip club dancer, or a nurse, or a drug dealer, or a teacher, or a preacher, or a soldier, or a high school graduate, or a baby's mama or a missing in action baby's daddy. They will say they're not quite sure what they'll become because all of a sudden there no longer seems to be strict limits imposed on their future. They will express gratitude for the efforts of countless others before them that brought us to this long deferred place, proclaim that at last our past history of legally sanctioned racism and dehumanization has been overcome, and gladly lay out plans to be whatever it is they most want to be because why should they settle for anything less. They will dance with joy for awhile on top of that mountain and then head down to reap rewards only to be found in the valley of true equality.
- Roy Pickering (author of Feeding the Squirrels)

Link of the day:

**It's quite depressing that a web site like this had to be created in the first place, but one major negative of living in the internet era is that misinformation can be spread in very little time with the greatest of ease to all corners of the earth. For some reason the truth seems to travel much more slowly and not nearly as far.**