Friday, January 04, 2008

The politics of hope

I know this is going to sound corny, but I was so excited about what happened in the Iowa caucuses last night that I couldn't sleep. And here I am this morning, still riding the wave of optimism that appears to be taking hold across this country.

I am proud to be a supporter of Mike Huckabee, and as my family, friends and co-workers know all too well, I've been supporting him since last spring when none of them even knew who he was. As an African-American, converted Republican who hails from a long line of die-hard Democrats, my early support of Huckabee was considered by many who know me as yet another example of my being out in left (or in this case, right) field, bucking conventional wisdom, marching to a totally different drummer, and perhaps being just plain rebellious. Yet I've been pleasantly surprised by how many of those nay-sayers actually started listening, first to me, and then to Mike Huckabee, and have begun to see what I saw.

Now, I must also be honest and admit that while I could not in good conscious vote for Obama because he is African-American (or Hillary because she's a woman), and while my values are much more closely aligned with conservative Republican values, I was almost as delighted about Obama's win in Iowa last night as I was for Huckabee. I'm excited that last night sent a message around the country, and around the world perhaps, that integrity and values trump money and "establishment". Honor and character trump pandering to the audience and telling them what they want to hear, even if it's different from what the last group was told. And that as a country, we may finally be ready to move beyond the trappings of race. The pundits can pontificate and speculate until the cows come home, but at the end of the day, it's not what they say that truly matters, as last night's election results proved.

But to me, what happened last night hits home on a personal level as well. The startling, against all odds, "they said it couldn't be done" results last night provide an important lesson to each of us. Both directly and by implication, so many of us are seduced into focusing on all that we supposedly can not do, for whatever reason, rather than encouraged to focus on all that we can do. We're told to set "realistic" expectations, settle for less than we dare to dream for and to focus on simply making through the day - one day at a time. We are constantly reminded of all of the limitations we face, but rarely about the possibilities.

The bottom line is that the choice is ours. We can chose to limit ourselves by allowing others to limit us, or we can take a page from Mike Huckabee's and Barack Obama's playbooks and decide that what we're put here to do is more important than what anybody else tells us we can't do.

History, both past and recent, is full of examples of people who have overcome tremendous odds, many that are much more challenging than ours, to achieve incredible things. Do you doubt that? Search the Internet and read about incredible artists who are blind, or who hold their paintbrushes with their teeth or their feet because they have no arms, or about athletes who complete entire marthons on crutches. Read about children who are born so severely disabled that they were never expected to read or write, yet who're graduating from college. Learn more about the Special Olympics. If you do, I bet you'll start to realize that life is too short, there's way too much to see and do, to waste time at the pity party.

It's time for us to stop feeling sorry for ourselves and believing the lies about what we can and cannot do. It's time to prove the pundits wrong. It's time to figure out why we're here, what our purpose in life is, what gifts we have to offer, what it is we're meant to do, and then, in the words of that simple yet profoundly powerful Nike ad... JUST DO IT!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

"Very Well Said"

I think you should send this to editors of newspapers all over the country.

Sandy in South Dakota