I like the Obamas. Michelle is hot and Barack is a poet, what’s not to like? Occasionally, a sweep of passion for their decency dumps me off my deeply realistic sadness about the human race, but I do manage to climb back into it. I mean, it is my world view, after all.
It was nice to hear about the families that the Obamas come from. About the sacrifice and love and belief in fairness. But when they talked about the values of the rich, and of privilege, and then said, “That’s not who we are,” it was a little beyond my ability to swallow. Because, face it, it is who we are. We elect the tax breaks for the wealthy fools much more often than we elect the idealists when it comes to the oval office. And in the times of hard work and pull yourself up by your bootstraps, corporations were murdering and persecuting those folks brave enough to work to unionize. Evil isn’t anything new.
I wonder about the human brain and its evolution. Since I am slightly more than a pseudo-Buddhist these days (and slightly less than a real Buddhist), I keep not subscribing to my own beliefs about things (and then subscribing again, or changing my mind). So, I am not subscribing to my nihilistic hypothesis that our brains are just not evolved enough for fairness and decency. I am willing to consider the idea that some brains may very well be evolving at a more rapid rate, but I am also willing to consider that the collective unconscious makes us all responsible for the level of consciousness the race is achieving. In other words, my brother who tortures another man with little evidence and no justification for such behavior in the name of Homeland Security, is a manifestation of the collective unconscious on the planet. As is the aid worker who risks her life in the Sudan, or the child soldier who escapes and becomes an activist against violence. If we are all One, we don’t get to pick and choose.
But more than this, I have to say that my own brain betrays my best intentions for a peaceful co-existence, with, say, the insane drivers of Boston. True, I no longer give anyone the finger or yell swears out my window. Instead I mutter, “Really?” as one car after another pass me from behind, not allowing me to get out from behind some white van that has come to a complete stop on Storrow Drive (that was today, for your information).
My own brain also betrays my intention to be nothing but kind to my partner. Because SHE DRIVES ME CRAZY! It took her over 20 hours of constant chatter to decide which massage to get at Kripalu! I intend to have unlimited acceptance and amusement for this characteristic of hers, but sometimes I just fall flat on my face. Or, more accurately, I say, “DECIDE ALREADY!”
I fell in love with Barack Obama watching his speech on race on youtube and I worked for his campaign the first time around, even though he hadn’t come out in favor of gay marriage then, and I had sworn I’d never support a candidate who didn’t believe in my civil rights. I made an exception in his case because I believed in his essential goodness and moral character and I thought he’d come around. I’ve read his memoirs, and I imagine that he has always carried impossible expectations, the need to fulfill the dreams and hopes of relatives of his who were oppressed. And so he is president when no one could fix everything that’s wrong, and sometimes I think I’m seeing this on his face, that he knows he can’t make it all okay, or right, and it’s killing him.
So it is not without compassion that I say I find his belief in his fellow Americans more than a bit unrealistic. I’m glad he believes, because it means he will try and head in the right direction. But I would like to send him a message, and the message is this: “Evil and corruption have always existed. We have not grown beyond them, and will not in my lifetime. It is with full awareness of our terribly flawed humanness that I try, because goodness has always existed as well, and sometimes, in some place, one human being can swing the pendulum and keep us from falling into the dark. I would like to be that person. And if I am not, to make it possible for that person to exist.”
Good luck Mr. President and Michelle. May your courage carry you when hope fails. May you always refuse to go silent into that good night.