2008: Year of Hope, Year of Fear. Essay 6

A perfect storm of opportunity, caused by our disorientation and our search for a new vision.
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President Barack Obama.

A perfect storm of opportunity, caused by our disorientation and our search for a new vision.

I like to think of 2008 as the end of trickle-down theories and supply-side biases. I hope it'ꀙs the end of assuming that a host of self interests will magically create a common good.

I marvel at my own optimism in the midst of so much economic turmoil and recognize that I have rose-colored glasses as a result of this election. I prefer them to the dark, muddied lenses I'ꀙve been wearing. The world looks brighter to me and I'ꀙm buoyed by that. I see an almost perfect storm of opportunity for America: A President who reached office without rewriting his past or too tightly mapping his future; a nation reeling from the collapse of its icons of economic security and from the frustrations of a war fought with its money and name but not its ideals; and the unsettling sense that 'ꀜsomething'ꀝ is terribly wrong.

We don'ꀙt just want change; we are changing. We are losing the solid ground upon which we planted our political, cultural ,and economic stanchions. So the opportunity is enormous for Obama to bring us together while we'ꀙre all a little disoriented.

I am prepared for Obama to disappoint me in the coming years because it's not his job to nurture all my hopes and passions. But it is his job to apply his own brand of vision, imagination, and good judgment to all the issues at hand. We'ꀙve had so much fear mongering and ideology in the White House and so little imagination and good judgment.

l read the awful story last week of a man in California, dressed as Santa, who entered a party for the express purpose of killing his ex-wife and her family. This man had the rational capacity to plan for the weapons, the costume, the access, and the escape he would need to execute his plan. What he lacked was the imagination that would have made the consequences vivid and unbearable — before the act itself. When it was over, he didn'ꀙt flee — he killed himself.

We are just as capable, as a nation, of planning and executing without imagining the consequences. We are just as capable of being consumed by our fears, our affronts, and our outrages and acting on them. But we are also capable of something much better. We might have discovered in 2008 that we are also capable of imagining our better selves and acting upon that vision. I have no intention of removing these rose colored glasses.


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