January 19, 2009

"Hope-Obama Fever/ Fervor" - a Worldwide Phenomenon?

I received an email from a friend who is not a US resident, and is visiting Washington DC as a World Bank executive. He witnessed a pre-inaugural event at the Lincoln Memorial Center, and his observations and reactions to it and to the forthcoming inauguration were very interesting. With his permission I am posting them here:

"I just returned from the Inauguration Concert at the Lincoln Memorial.
To be honest, I went to see, for free, the great names of music that
I so love and admire - live! There were Bruce Springsteen, John
Mellencamp, Stevie Wonder, U2, Shakira, Usher, Beyonce (who I didn't
actually see), and many others, as also actors like Samuel Jackson and
Queen Latifa. It was a great opportunity. And it was truly wonderful
to hear them sing and perform.

But I have come away with an experience very unlike - and much more
profound - than witnessing a rock band perform. This was truly the
spirit of America that I got to feel and see. There was such a mass
of people, at least a couple of hundred thousand, people who had
travelled many miles to be there, to celebrate and participate in a
celebration that was theirs. Each one there, I could see, owned the
moment. This was their country, their celebration, their victory, and
Barack Obama, their leader, their hero. It was amazing to see,
whenever the Jumbotron showed a close up of Obama - singing with the
music or just nodding his head to the beat - the crowd cheered
lustily. And the cheers were much louder than those even for their
greatly loved and admired stars that performed on the stage.

Democracy is alive and well in America. There were whites and blacks
and latinos and asians, and all united in their ownership of the great
moment. Truly, they feel the ownership because they have helped
create it - they have voted. And they know each vote counted, and
they know that that was their vote that got Obama to the White House.

There was much talk of history during the concert - the music was
interspersed with short speeches from celebrities (Tiger Woods was one
such speaker). There were the usual references to Abraham Lincoln and
Martin Luther King, Jr. and John F. Kennedy and Roosevelt and, of
course, George Washington. But, today when I heard the speakers quote
Abraham Lincoln or Martin Luther King I felt a jab in my heart, I felt
a swelling in my throat, I felt a shiver down my spine. The words
acquired a meaning for me today. These men were great, their ideas
were great, and this country and its people that recognised their
greatness and gave them such a hallowed place in its history are,
therefore, great.

Sure, the world is going through real tough times: there are conflicts

in every hotspot from the middle east to India-Pakistan, the world
economy is going through the worst downturn in decades, terrrorism is
rampant, religion is being abused; as Shakespeare wrote in Julius
Caesar - "Oh judgement, thou art fled to brutish beasts and men have
lost their reason". Yet, seeing the spirit of freedom and celebration
and democracy and victory that I got to see today, I have hope. The
world shall yet be a better place. America has shown how and where it
can begin." RA

Obama Fervor is catching on!


Dr. Deb said...

What a beautiful and poignant take on things. I am so excited for tomorrow. History. Change. Hope. Wow!

Anonymous said...

Today's newspaper carried a column by Frank Rich in NYTNS ( White Like Me) and that looks beyond this Obama angle and explains how complex the issue of racism in America is - a vantage view that does not cease at Obama taking over, but rather starts at Obama taking over.. Hope is good, but i'm a cynic and i'm outside this country - therefore my question would always boil down to how much he understands South East Asia...black or white is secondary there.

Saadia said...

Hoping again and again, that this hope proves to be fruitful.

EXSENO said...

That was wonderful to read. I'm glad that he was able to be here at the time and view it all for his self. He'll carry that image back home with him.

EYE said...

The American sense of optimism can be overwhelming and can make the darkest hell look like paradise.