Thursday, November 06, 2008

Why Hope Matters

I've spent a long time thinking about P's comment on yesterday's post I wrote about hope. I don't really have any response to her comments about economic policy and the other very smart things she said. As P suggested, I am one of the voters who thinks more about issues that seem pressing than about those matters. Which seems silly, because the structure of the country's economy is what allows my daily issues to seem important. The structure of life as I know and enjoy it comes from our economy and our ability to relate with foreign nations. I know all that.

But I also know that strangers said hello to me on the street today. And yesterday. And that my 18-year-old students felt energized and excited and paid attention to things going on in the world around them. My brother-in-law said that Barack Obama's election was exactly like the opposite of September 11. I think he's right.

I experienced that event very differently from most people I know because I was living abroad when it happened. But I do know that even on my return there was a sense of togetherness enveloped in our fear. I know that I stood stock still with about 165 strangers watching on tv as the last beam was removed from the pit at Ground Zero.

I feel a hopeful unity with my country-persons right now that is the same, but different from that unity of 7 years ago. I feel an energy and an awareness and a life force pulsing through everyone. I feel right now what it must have felt like during the Revolutionary War or WWII when people came together with victory gardens and whatnot. I feel a sense of purpose to make things...better.

I do not know how to improve our economy or our many problems and I do know that eloquent speech will not solve them. As K-train points out, our president-elect has gotten us really revved up and ready to go and will have to deliver something big to meet our expectations. But what I think is so important, what seems crucial to me is that we are ready to receive the delivery. I just feel a sense of togetherness and life and caring that made my day today better than any day for a long time.

6 comments:

p said...

I didn't mean to quash positivity. It is so important that we are, like you said, ready to receive and we're expecting great things from our elected officials for a change. I think that is an expectation that any democratic society needs to sustain regardless of the systems I talked about.

For too long our citizens have believed that the politicians were going to do whatever they wanted anyway and this election has restored that sense of ownership at the personal level. I am happy about that!

K-Train said...

I hope Obama does not let each of us off the hook. Especially the youth of this country who helped elect him. It was a moment of change electing Obama but now it's time for folks to live that change by devoting themselves to service and personal responsibility.

Only time will tell if our generation can be that next "greatest generation." But god knows I want to believe it!

Em said...

I do not really think that issues and philosophy can be separated. They each inform the other. I feel like I recommend this book all the damn time, but read Moral Politics, if you haven't already.

p said...

Moral Politics:
I disagree with the theory that “morals” always relate to political philosophy. First, no one agrees on the term “morals”. I mean there are basics, no one wants to see someone starve or suffer, but lines blur when we start to talk about rights and privileges.

The author of that book believes that "strict father" models leave people selfish and less morally compassionate and that nurtured children become more self-disciplined and self-reliant and compassionate.

That lends itself to common generalizations that can be true. BUT, one can believe in the basis of competition being good (as I do) and embrace morals that are also compassionate and socially generous. For example, I believe strongly in social generosity through non-government actors but do not embrace state or federally funded programs in the same way. The author contradicts traditional definitions of morality with modern ones. AND behavior doesn’t always mirror the philosophies and concepts that are at the root of our being. People are fundamentally selfish beings and regardless of the philosophies they embrace, they mess up when it comes time to live what they believe – on both sides.

As a heartless, strict father product, and formerly obedient freak, I believe that taking from the rich to give to the poor robs the poor of self-reliance and achievement that they would otherwise be able to reach (if we lived is less of a hybrid-free market system and got rid of the crappy social programs that recycle generations into patterns of unhealthy and uneducated dependence). But doesn’t it feel good to the nurtured children to be Robin Hood and bestow on the poor around them a justice that they define, determine and feed?

If you’re recommending this book, I’m going to have to go ahead and recommend Atlas Shrugged.

Em said...

lol.

freya said...

"As a heartless, strict father product, and formerly obedient freak, I believe that taking from the rich to give to the poor robs the poor of self-reliance and achievement that they would otherwise be able to reach (if we lived is less of a hybrid-free market system and got rid of the crappy social programs that recycle generations into patterns of unhealthy and uneducated dependence)."

What an incredibly cynical statement for someone who doesn't want to "quash positivity". There are many examples of people pulling themselves up from living on food stamps and using other assistance programs, especially while doing things like going to school to be able to have a better job to better provide for their family. I'm not going to say that no one abuses the system, but it seems awfully unfair to take it away from people who are using it as intended.