Friday, November 7, 2008

Barack Obama in Berlin (Originally posted July 28, 2008)

So the Democratic candidate for President of the USA, Senator Barack Obama, attracts a crowd of 200,000 people in Berlin, the largest one so far in his campaign. There is so much to say about the Senator, the manner and message of the man, the mere fact that he is the Democratic candidate – so much to say about the deep irony of his drawing his biggest crowd in Germany, of all countries. So just a couple of comments here. To begin with, having been in the USA during Civil Rights, I honestly never thought I would live to see the day. That it has indeed come says a great deal for the American people, in particular for young people in the United States. Among many other things, it says that far from being turned off, disillusioned, blasé, consumed only with celebrating themselves on Facebook and MySpace, they are alert, aware and prepared to respond to an inclusive message, a message that empowers them and advances nation building as a common cause. Whatever one's political persuasion, Senator Obama must be given credit for articulating such a view and persuading people that he means what he says. Of course, what lends credibility to his message is the fact of who he is, the fact that his life is witness to the "Yes-We-Can-ability" to which he now calls his country. Anyone who was there back then is bound to appreciate the awesomeness, the enormity of the now. What Barack Obama stands for is a great deal more than can be communicated by the simple statement that he is the first black man to run for president of the USA – as astounding a fact as that may be – even as the crowd in Berlin listening to him speak is a great deal more than a large gathering of white people in a European city listening to a black man who may well be the next leader of the most powerful country in the world. The bleakest moments in human history and our power to transform them are alive inside this man, and brood inside that crowd. And lastly – for now, for there's a great deal more to be said – the World, the one that begged America not to go to war in Iraq, the one that is frightened about whether we have so ruined the planet that it's about to heave us off its back the way a dog shakes off water, the World that's scared that it may shortly be ravaged by disease at the same time that it is bereft of resources, that World is desperate to find someone who is prepared to give it hope, to tell it that there's a way out. So mock the Senator, call him the Messiah, if you will, but know the times are critical, and admire him for having the courage to want to step into the breach.

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