Wednesday, November 5, 2008

A New Dawn, A New Day

Dignity. What a concept.

Why did John McCain wait until after he had lost to act dignified and presidential?

Apparently, the citizens of the United States of America took notice that Barack Obama has been dignified and presidential since he began his campaign… and things were no different last night.

Here is my favorite part of Barack Obama’s speech last night:

This election had many firsts and many stories that will be told for generations. But one that's on my mind tonight is about a woman who cast her ballot in Atlanta. She's a lot like the millions of others who stood in line to make their voice heard in this election, except for one thing: Ann Nixon Cooper is 106 years old.

She was born just a generation past slavery; a time when there were no cars on the road or planes in the sky; when someone like her couldn't vote for two reasons — because she was a woman and because of the color of her skin.

And tonight, I think about all that she's seen throughout her century in America — the heartache and the hope; the struggle and the progress; the times we were told that we can't and the people who pressed on with that American creed: Yes, we can.

At a time when women's voices were silenced and their hopes dismissed, she lived to see them stand up and speak out and reach for the ballot. Yes, we can.

When there was despair in the Dust Bowl and depression across the land, she saw a nation conquer fear itself with a New Deal, new jobs and a new sense of common purpose. Yes, we can.

When the bombs fell on our harbor and tyranny threatened the world, she was there to witness a generation rise to greatness and a democracy was saved. Yes, we can.

She was there for the buses in Montgomery, the hoses in Birmingham, a bridge in Selma and a preacher from Atlanta who told a people that "We Shall Overcome." Yes, we can.

A man touched down on the moon, a wall came down in Berlin, a world was connected by our own science and imagination. And this year, in this election, she touched her finger to a screen and cast her vote, because after 106 years in America, through the best of times and the darkest of hours, she knows how America can change. Yes, we can.

America, we have come so far. We have seen so much. But there is so much more to do. So tonight, let us ask ourselves: If our children should live to see the next century; if my daughters should be so lucky to live as long as Ann Nixon Cooper, what change will they see? What progress will we have made?
What will we give to the future? What a concept. In this day and age of the here and now, we need to think about and do something about the bigger picture. Knowing this is the first step.

What will the next one hundred years bring us? Most of us will never know. Hopefully we will move forward in seen and unforeseen ways that will make us more civilized and humane.

We do know what the last eight years have brought us. We have taken too many giant steps backwards. Our leaders have succeeded in making us all less human, less humane. Hopefully we can now begin to crawl out of the sewer that they have cast us in, and restore some dignity to the United States of America. That is my dream of a new tomorrow.

Update:
If you’re like me and you like to sprinkle your hopes and dreams with a dash or more of skepticism and cynicism, then might I recommend PZ Myers and Dennis Perrin. One of the things that I like about Obama is that he reminds us that progress is up to us. It is not all up to Barack Obama. We need to be active in the political process as well, beyond simply voting. It is also up to us to hold him accountable. This is as it should be. Let’s try to remember these things. Electing Obama is only the first step, there are many more to be taken.

2 comments - Post a comment :

Anonymous said...

Thank you for quoting so much from the speech. It is almost as inspiring to read as it was to hear. As always, I appreciate your statement that extends his while adding your own personal touch. But, of course, I'm a pretty constant fan, but I think my judgment is good on this one.

Paul Thoreau said...

To anonymous:

Thank you for your comment, and your kind words.

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