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Obama Moment | Memory of the Future Project
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Obama Moment

By Sara Lovell | January 2, 2009

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obama-post-pic1I was inspired to create this blog site at this time because I believe there’s an enormous window of opportunity that has opened since Barack Obama was elected President of the United States on Nov. 4th, 2008.

Six months before the election, very few of us would have thought this possible. This was a turning point for so many reasons; the inspiration and empowerment of millions of young people, the increased self-respect for many previously disenfranchised, the renewed passion of millions more who had felt separate and helpless, the fact that a country with the wrenching and not so distant history of slavery has elected for President, an African American.

I believe all of this has brought a potency to the creative force that human beings hold, and by our actions and our choice that day, created a quantum leap in our evolution as a species.

How did this thing happen?

I think that when enough people start to awaken enough common desire, people show up to help catalyze the shift. And Obama showed up. With words that went deep into the memory of that desire, back to the memory of what called the people who created this country to write down such unique and abiding principles, and to stir in us the trust that we could once again uphold these principles and actually build on them and better them.

He spoke like a person who truly believes what he’s saying. He spoke to us with affection and respect, with a calm certainty and unwavering vision, and a belief that hard work and collaboration can create enormous change for the good. And from the way he ran his campaign we could see that he was a pragmatic idealist.

In her speech to the DNC, Michelle Obama quoted from a speech he gave in the Chicago neighborhood he had worked with after he got out of college.

“He talked about The World As It Is, and The World As It Should Be. And he said that all too often we accept the distance between the two and we settle for the world as it is, even when it doesn’t reflect our values and aspirations.

But, he reminded us that we also know what the world should look like. He said: We know what fairness and justice and opportunity look like and he urged us to believe in ourselves, to find the strength within ourselves to strive for the world as it should be. And isn’t that the great American story?”

Obama is asking us to submit our own great American stories and visions on his Change.gov website – they want to hear from us. I’m also contacting Obama’s website to request that they archive the submissions and make them viewable to the public to allow for more inspiration and collective future making. Another site, Change.org is compiling ideas for creating new public policy, and the submissions that get the most votes will be presented to Obama at the Inauguration. We get to view peoples’ submissions on this site.

The opportunity and promise of this moment.

People have expressed concerns about some of his cabinet picks, fearing he is straying from his message of change. I want to find ways to engage the discussion that are aligned with the deeper vision, and not fall into the habit of judgment and criticism that can develop after too many broken promises.

Instead of talking about holding Obama’s feet to the fire, I’d love to ask what we could do that would empower us as collaborators with him.

There have also been many people who have expressed disappointment and anger about his choice to have Rev. Rick Warren conduct the invocation at the Inauguration ceremony. Personally I wish he hadn’t made this choice, and at the same time, I want to take a leap of faith that out of this will come an opportunity for people who wouldn’t normally come together and discuss marriage equality, to do just that, and to get to know each other in the process.

And I think Rev. Warren ought to issue a retraction.

In time, I trust Prop 8 will be overturned. Here’s a post by Melissa Etheridge that speaks to the choice of Rev. Warren, and another from David Quigg titled “What would Obama do if Obama was mad at Obama about Rick Warren?”

I want to give Obama the benefit of the doubt to be respectful in this regard and to continue to learn from people, as I want to give myself the benefit of the doubt and not jump to conclusions that could impede opportunities for me to understand people better and allow others to get to know me better; in this instance, giving them more understanding of how I am personally harmed by gay marriage bans.

My friend Nathan Blaz, who has been helping me design this blog site, (including help with editing this post), said, “Interesting how even when we’re at odds with him politically (perhaps even more so than when we agree with him), Obama inspires us to patiently, persistently, and diligently focus on successfully creating change.”

I want to remember what I’ve heard from people about how his campaign was run. Listening to Caroline Casey’s Visionary Activist radio show on

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, her guest was Pat Ewing, former deputy chief of staff for Al Gore. She spoke about working on the Obama campaign after twenty years of presidential campaign experience: “It was the most organized, most competent presidential I’ve ever worked on…People were respectful, there was no back-stabbing, no interest in playing political games…I thought I’d seen it all, that was one I didn’t expect…he set such a tone of cooperation, that I didn’t know was possible.”

“We need to respect this is just the very beginning of an administration, and how we work with each other, and what kind of a team we create with him needs to embody our own values.”

Obama has invested himself in reaching out across great divides and bringing people together to solve collective problems. He tells us he is willing to listen to everyone’s views, and though there may be people with differing views in his cabinet, he will still be the one steering the ship. As he inducted us into higher places in ourselves, addressing us as leaders and collaborators, I want to trust this same energy is at work in the people he is bringing together for his administration - that we all long to embody “the better angels of our nature.”

Maybe this is the Obama moment—the developing of “Ally Etiquette” as Caroline Casey calls it. She talks about leaving room for people to behave in unexpectedly appropriate ways. And I add, allowing for things to appear as opportunity instead of something to be braced against, having the willingness to collaborate with all that is coming in, and the commitment to greater personal responsibility and greater mutual responsibility.

I want to keep in mind how hard he’s worked for what I believe is an unswerving desire to recover our democracy and engage a more active and collaborative citizenry. And he’s done this at enormous personal risk, too. It’s easy to forget that sometimes, and when I remember, I have to ask myself “Am I matching that commitment in my own life?”

This amazing thing has happened, and I want to discover what it means for me and for each of us - to take up the torch. Obama reminded us that every human being is a channel with something unique and powerful to contribute. He seemed to say, “I’m modeling it as a politician, how are you modeling it?”

It should embolden us, being that he could affect such an Ego-dominated field as politics.

I keep going back to his speeches, his embodiment of those words and desires, going back to how it felt to be in that moment just after the election was called, how it felt to see that ocean of ecstatic, amazed, tearful faces at Grant Park that night, to keep feeling what was so right, so true and what is pulling us forward now—to continue this work. Maybe even to begin it in a totally new way.

Caroline Casey reminds us on her radio show December 25th, that Barack means Blessing and Lightning, Hussein means Beloved of God, and Obama means the Good.

She recommends we visualize Barack on his 96th birthday in great health, honored by a grateful nation, like Nelson Mandela, surrounded by Michelle, his children and grandchildren.

She talks about us needing to be a vibrational match for the desirable future. Obama’s words and the way he ran his campaign were most definitely a match for our deepest desires for the future of this country and the world.

Let’s continue to animate the vision.

One Response to “Obama Moment”


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    Debra Joy
    Says:
    January 7th, 2009 at 2:08 pm
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    I love this posting. I’m so inspired by Barack. I remember being amazed at how he spoke to us during the elections - as though we are smart, as though we understand. It was a rare thing to hear a candidate speak to the American public with such respect.

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