HOPE IS ALIVE AND WELL.
Last night, I dreamt about a President Obama. Again. At the risk of appearing silly, I want to share the dream. He was not surrounded by chipmunks(Hi Selma!) and squirrels and deer, and riding a unicorn(the humorous depiction of him in some YouTube renderings). This Obama was sitting quietly, hands folded. The room was actually rather subdued, and I was asking him how he felt, and he said "I feel like we just took one step--one step towards a future that sees hope trumping fear. One step towards solving some of the problems laid at our feet, these past eight years. But more than that, I feel humbled and am honored to serve you. I promise to do my best so that you can feel redeemed in that hope.... That's where we are, America, and that's where we are going."
The reason I can remember so much, is that when I wake up from a dream, I jot down the phrases I remember, immediately.
I used to keep a diary, and I wrote in it, nearly every day. I stopped keeping one
a couple of years ago, though I do journal "important" events--often in this outlet, Lisa Allender Writes.
Recently, I went back to my old diaries of 1985-1995, and
what I found was a woman whose interest in politics had waned. Not because we--the United States--didn't need addressing, or weren't doing well, but because I was a fragile, rather lost soul.The Lisa in some of those years (particularly 1988-1995)
had become interested mainly in money, and I only realized recently, how much that emphasis hurt who I was. How it shaped friendships I should never have encouraged. I lost faith in my country(I did not even vote in 1992)because I lost faith in myself. It's a shame that it took intense crisis here in the USA for me to try to regain
that faith in myself.(The wonderful administration of Bill Clinton being hampered--nearly toppled--not by his marital indiscretions, but by a vengeful, grasping investigation which caused even more dissatisfaction in this country).
So I became my authentic, political self again, several years ago(I voted for Clinton in 1996, and I felt very betrayed when light fell on his private life(when testifying to that Grand Jury, and to that camera, when facing us). My father advised me then:"Lisa, things are good. People will look back on this, and see these continued attacks on him, his private life, for what this is--just partisan politics driving this impeachment process.It's ridiculous.").
My Dad has been proven correct, of course. The man who promised in his first speeches
to this country, "I'm a uniter, not a divider..." and "I'm going to restore honor and dignity to the office of the President of the United States..." has succeeded
in doing the exact opposite of that. That's right--George W. Bush said those words.
In 2000,I became my authentic, political self(that young girl who volunteered in the very first Presidential year she could vote--1976)by volunteering once again. At that time, I was more "moderate" (I tended to vote Libertarian in local political contests, but I certainly hoped Al Gore could win.)
By 2004, I was galvanized, and actively campaigned for John Kerry. The severe illness I suffered, less than 24 hours after George W. Bush was "re-elected" certainly was brought on by stress, and it was then I realized just how invested I'd become.
Why? Why get so invested in something that often feels impossible? Because impossible things--things that seeem out of reach--can be accomplished.
In reading these diaries--in reading about bad things that happened to me, poor choices I myself made, that led to more pain, and scary, ugly things that could have made me bitter, or harsh--I read words that made me cry, not with sadness, but with pure joy. In a paragraph detailing one ugly incident, I remarked how my faith in people had not changed--how I still saw most folks as good,and I saw the person who attempted to victimize me, as a person who was ill, someone who had more hurt, more pain in his heart, than I could ever understand. What's interesting, is that I was certainly not in a place of faith back then. Back then, I called myself a "cheerful
Atheist, or Non-Theist", but I was still was able to make sense out of something senseless.
I think that's what we're going to do with this election, with our future.
We're going to make sense out of what's been senseless the past eight years:
the senseless killing in Iraq, the senseless shredding of our Constitution, the
senseless destruction of our good name-of the USA-in our interactions with other nations, the senseless neglect of the poorest, most helpless of our citizens(re:Katrina, the scandals surrounding foreclosures on the less fortunate, etc.),the senseless destruction of our beautiful natural forests and rivers, the senseless desruction of our earth, the death of our support for the teachers in our country, and the children they teach.
We will make sense of it after all, because we will achieve the impossible. How do I know this? Because the impossible HAS ALREADY HAPPENED.
Senator Barack Obama, a man whose name most people did not know, and could not pronounce, only 20 months ago, through his diligence and as a result of his strong faith, intellectual prowess, and unique skill sets, has won his party's nomination.
We can choose to remain in the past, afraid our dreams won't come true. Or we can--even after feeling abused, hurt, a bit broken--we can choose that hope that Senator Obama has asked us to keep alive.