Monday, August 18, 2008

Reflections on Obama

The campaign of Barak Obama is often portrayed, within and without, as a movement. I usually bristle at this description because it is missing rather important elements.

Think of Martin Luther King and the American racial equality movement and ask yourself whether I speak truly when I say that a movement has three parts:

1. A leader.
2. A population which recognizes its chains
3. A population which perceives a hope of escape from them

It is not enough for a leader to speak vaguely of Hope without identifying the chains and pointing to the exit. It is not enough for a leader to speak dully of audacity without championing an action.

So far the Obama movement is just a rudderless hope floating on buoyant nostalgia. Tides take such "movements" out to sea where they become indistinguishable from the turmoil of the brine.

There is one dark chain that binds us all, just as there is a new dawn to face. A movement must use moral persuasion to draw attention to the new dawning, rather than despair over the chains. This the the moral of the Statue of Liberty story.

There is more to Love than life.
There is more to Hope than audacity.
There is more to change than rhetoric.

If this is to be a true movement, rather than a "cult of personality", then it must embrace steps two and three. A movement goes nowhere with only "the One", at least nowhere worthwhile.

I am decidedly not the person I have been waiting for.

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Foot Quotes

"Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge"

Charles Darwin