Tuesday, January 22, 2013

President Obama-- I Still Got Your Back!

Ok—I am going to say it! I am so tired of the Obama bashing and bashing by pundits and  left right bashing each other.Even friends and families cannot have  in depth  real thoughtful inquiring discussions. 

Was I mistaken in hearing that people elected Obama to be king?-- to fix everything? And to do so in his first term? Then… why, I keep asking, have the left, the right, and even the middle, failed to act as a wise and enlightened citizenry? Why do we choose to be   so polarized that we can no longer calmly and respectfully engage in dialogue with each other?

I listened to Obama’s inaugural speech yesterday. I never thought I would hear a president--in an inaugural speech--  so eloquently cite  the history of and  struggle for equal rights – and  call for the nation—as in WE (all of us!) to work together to solve the problems before us.... to extend EQUAL rights to women ( as in  having control over their lives and bodies)  and to our  gay brothers and sisters. Never would I have imagined a President signing a Don’t Ask Don’t Tell Repeal Act, bringing to an end a discriminatory policy that " stood in stark contrast to our shared values of unity and equality."

“For we are not a nation that says, ‘don’t ask, don’t tell.’ We are a nation that says, ‘Out of many, we are one.’  We are a nation that welcomes the service of every patriot.  We are a nation that believes that all men and women are created equal. Those are the ideals that generations have fought for.  Those are the ideals that we uphold today.  And now, it is my honor to sign this bill into law.”
 -- President Barack Obama, December 22, 2010.

Never would I have thought that I would witness a president reference Selma, Seneca Falls and Stonewall in making a case for equality in an Inaugural speech!

“We the people declare today that the most evident of truth that all of us are created equal -- is the star that guides us still; just as it guided our forebears through Seneca Falls and Selma and Stonewall; just as it guided all those men and women, sung and unsung, who left footprints along this great mall, to hear a preacher say that we cannot walk alone; to hear a King proclaim that our individual freedom is inextricably bound to the freedom of every soul on Earth.”- President Barack Obama, January 21, 2013.

Now how do we stop poverty or the scourge of AIDS? How to we stop investment corporations from raising rents on housing and small business? How do we stop feuds between families or neighbors, and end the battles between gangs. Let’s not forget to mention the fighting over blood diamonds, and natural resources or over borders. How about proliferation of chemicals and pesticides. Then there is the war on workers and the war against a woman’s right to choose. How do we stop Global Warming?  Religious wars, ethnic feuds, sexism, racism, homophobia, ethnocentrism , human speciesism and so on. 
And what about all our pollution on land,  sea and  in the air including our space junk  orbiting around this precious planet and plastic garbage creating islands in our oceans.

Life is complicated and messy and so are all people who populate this world.

Obama’s challenges  in a war culture? I suggest reading ‘A decade of war is now ending’ by Jonathan Bernstein (Washington Post, January 21, 2013) http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/plum-line/wp/2013/01/21/a-decade-of-war-is-now-ending/

And, one more thing.  I look to the movements in our more recent   history-- as in the ending of Slavery (do see the Film Lincoln) to the amazing determination of the Suffragettes and the struggle for Civil Rights, or the fall of Apartheid, and the peaceful toppling of the one-party brutal  communist regime by Solidarność, the Polish Trade Union Movement of men and women-- and the disability rights movement.  In every case there was the  stepping up together to stand together for a common and just cause-- of  people working together  for something better and a higher purpose where all will benefit.

I like to refer to the article written by Jeff Conklin, Ph.D., Wicked problems and Social Complexity.Conklin writes, “The Holy Grail of effective collaboration – is in creating shared understanding about the problem, and shared commitment to the possible solutions. Shared understanding does not mean we necessarily agree on the problem, although that is a good thing when it happens. Shared understanding means that the stakeholders understand each other’s positions well enough to have intelligent dialogue about the different interpretations of the problem, and to exercise collective intelligence about how to solve it. Because of social complexity, solving a wicked problem is fundamentally a social process.”

So how do we get there without bashing each other? We can’t blame any president for the unabashed incivility and  the disempowering  plethora of tropes and meaningless rhetoric that  tears  down and that is winding its way  through our Main Streets,  up to the Halls of Congress  and found on countless  social media sites  and on emotionally charged  talk radio programs. Knee jerk emotionalism, fear based conspiracy theories, setting up home arsenals and harboring the ills of the past is not a panacea either.  Climate Change will – as we are seeing-- probably WILL  whip our behinds first!

President Obama in his Inauguration Speech at the very least raised the bar of integrity and the call to take action to care about each other---  for all of us --. 

How we get there is not just up to him.  Maybe it is time  to get  out of our own way,  set aside our prejudices, fears  and self-constructed entitlements, self interests,  and act to  unselfishly to think of and  help others.

John Lennon - "You may say I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one. I hope someday you'll join us. And the world will live as one."