Wednesday, November 5, 2008

yes we did: A Bold New World

It grew strength from the young people who rejected the myth of their generation's apathy

President-Elect Barack H. Obama

_________(from The Man With the Blue Guitar, Wallace Stevens)

_________That generation's dream, aviled
_________In the mud, in Monday's dirty light,

_________That's it, the only dream they knew,
_________Time in its final block, not time

_________To come, a wrangling of two dreams.
_________Here is the bread of time to come,

_________Here is its actual stone. The bread
_________Will be our bread, the stone will be

_________Our bed and we shall sleep by night.
_________We shall forget by day, except

_________The moments when we choose to play
_________The imagined pine, the imagined jay.

I am overcome today in soo many ways. in fragments. different parts of me are overcome in different ways. One thing is, I am full of phrases and lines today. It started first thing, when I saw a clip of Oprah Winfrey walk out onto her show wearing a tshirt that said: a bold new world. It's been swirling in my head all day. Yes we can. I like it when Obama says it. It's not forced. It's not labored. It's not even the chant of a rhetorician working the crowd. He just says it, yes we can, like an obvious fact... like a well underground spring that needs only be dug for, yes it's there.

I am overcome by images too. One often confronts these in picture books and archival film images. Gandhi. Mandela. Martin Luther King Jnr. and think of leadership. How people must have felt to be in those moments. JF and Bobby Kennedy. One is soo often confronted with the phrase 'great leader'. 'important man'. 'history in the making'. Those phrases have all been thrown around alot today. And finally, I'm going to add mine to that list:

dear generation,

are we aware, that this is ours? Are you aware that teeth and bone i have suffered, and you have suffered the confusions and angst of our time for this? That we have tolerated fools and crooks and thieves and isms and Darfur and Rosa Parks and Guantanamo and Rwanda and re-count Florida 2000 and Alabama lynch mobs for this. that this is our Berlin Wall falling. that this is our Man-On-The-Moon.

are we aware, that we did this? all it took was standing in lines. listening to voices. posting forms. extinguishing prejudices. pressing buttons. re-imagining the future. showing ID. braving the cold. discussing ideals. ticking the box. reclaiming the world: ladies and gentlemen of my times: the youth have just inherited the world. and i say this because:

are we aware, that we are not just color-blind, but doubly proud of the achievement of our African-American brothers and sisters? are we aware, that the debt we owe to them, we have just finally initiated a repayment of? are we aware, that their joy makes us joyous? are we aware that we have chosen the best candidate and not the shadow of our evils? are we aware that Yes We Can has just become the mantra of a world's worth of youth, who, sitting at lonely park benches, and listening to the monotonous rattles of trains, and stuck in traffic, and inked and pierced and diced and raw and bruised and cut, have just realized a man of such youth (47 years old!), who is willing to come to us on MTV, will inspire us not to just re-imagine the world, but to reconstruct it in the image of our longing. Yes We Can has just been cast as a fact- not just a hope, a fact... because we did.

are we aware; after i got through crying, and then praying and praying and praying, i stumbled on another phrase lingering in my mind: at this defining moment, change has come, that the world has been in just 18 minutes (the duration of a victory speech) disassembled, revised, imbued with hoped (so long as we breathe, we hope), invested with hope, redeemed by hope, discovered hope still clinging to it, and put back together again, ostensibly the same, but... no. oh no. not at all the same. not the same at all. are we aware these are new atoms we breathe? are we aware that as the remainder of this edifice, this blistered world order comes falling down, we now have a step-ladder to stand on? we now have a new arm, and a just-oiled elbow, and an eager wrist to reach up with? are we aware that we have conducted the first scientific experiment on the hypothesis of the American Dream (the world dream, the human dream), and found, without question, that it exists! that it can happen. that we can do it. that there is worth in aspiration. that there is value in endeavor. that there is truth to opportunity.

are we aware generation, that the burden of gross ignorance, of petty arrogance, of factions and schisms and pro-abort-choice-gay-straight-oil-terror-othercolor-ist is ours to destroy. to expel. Generation, we are Rushdie's Midnight's Children. we are Nietszche's Superman. We are Reverend King's dream. we are the seed of the hope of every prophet. we are a momentary wink of God's rosy cheek. we are the sprinting frontier of the universe expanding- we are the wave that grows and rises and plummets at the shoreline, at the cliff-face, at the jagged rock till we edge it towards us, till we reshape it the way we want, and spit it back out in our image.

for the first time in my life, today, this day, i understood what it is to be in a great moment. not a tragic moment, where you are sickened by your humanity- the stench of your own skin from watching images of Rwanda, Darfur, Sudan, Guantanamo... the filth behind your ears of Abu Graihb, of KKK rallies, of negative-campaign-ads, the boils and lesions of September 11, no, not that at all. a great moment, a moment when skin, and flesh, and hair, and eyes are... (when we are worthy of the bodies we are in) (when we become worthy of the time we have- the Time we are in) (when we are worthy of the task(s) at hand) (when we become instruments of the change we seek). that sort of greatness. For this first time in my life, today, this day, i felt soo near, and so in love with millions of people i have never met, but who are my friends. soo near to me- my team who had helped me accomplish this. my family. my fraternity. i felt soo near to my generation, my lonely, perpetually exiled, dreamy star-gazing hope-mongers, my lovers and brothers and sisters, together based on idealism we proved that race doesn't matter: qualities do. that experience is as important as heart. that we are willing to sacrifice for each other. that we care about our planet... that we are united in our sense of Space, and Time: Change we need. Change has come.

my generation, on this day, we have slithered awake out of our haze of hopeless angst, our muted frustration, our labored castigation of presidents who cannot inspire, of leaders who cannot transgress, of politics that seeks to divide, of civic responsibility that makes us sneeze as dust arouses our asthma, of constantly dividing and ism-ing, and schisming, and scaring and bullying- we have woken up just in time to say, yes we can change this. we own this.

and that's my point generation: we own this. our stinky flesh (rotting prematurely). our lofty words. and only our actions to bridge the gap. this is a day for exultation. the first, clear, defining moment of the start of re-constructing the world. the first, clear, defining moment of our collective, united front against history's slanted view of democracy, liberty, opportunity, and unyielding hope.

dear generation, i love you.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

t-shirt is on her way.... and possible a few other things with it :o)