Wednesday, January 30, 2008

cynicism sucks. I'm on board.

(Mom, this post is for you. Hope you're still "considering.")

I'm listening to the SC victory speech on youtube right now. And if I hadn't been for Obama before, I would be now.

Personally, I've been cynical for so long that I've found it difficult to shake. There's security in it; if you're cynical about all political process and all political candidates and all political rhetoric, then you're never going to be disappointed, you're never going to feel betrayed. You never expected anything better. And I experience Obama as a temptation. A temptation toward resuscitated hope and optimism and a trust in personal agency. And despite my like for him as a candidate, there's been a part of me that's resisted getting totally on board. I've been cynical too long. I don't want to contemplate what it may mean to trade it in for what still feels like a naive idealism, the kind that inevitably gets crushed by the implacable momentum of indifferent reality.

What's so powerful about this speech, to me, is that--whatever else is in there--Obama recognizes this.
"We're up against forces that feed the habits that prevent us from being who we
want to be as a nation...a politics that tells us we have to think, act and even
vote within the confines of the categories that supposedly define us... But
we're not just up against the ingrained and destructive habits of
Washington. We're also up against our own doubts, our own fears, our own
cynicism. The change we seek has always required great struggle and great
sacrifice. And so this is a battle in our own hearts and our own minds
about what kind of country we want, and how hard we're willing to work for it."
The message to me, and to those like me, is to take the risk. Of climbing out of the security of cynicism and daring the vulnerability of hoping, and working toward the America we wish we lived in. Of making our citizenship something we can legitimately take some pride in, instead of adopting fake Australian accents when overseas.

And the chorus: "yes, we can." On the theological anthropology behind this speech, maybe another post.


R-Liz said...

Well said. For awhile now, deep, deep down, I have been drawn to Obama. But I didn't dare say much about it or allow myself to really "go there" because I'm so used to half-ass white men being on the Presidential ballot. Why would this time be different?

But when he won Iowa, I got excited. And I didn't even realize how excited I had gotten until HRC won New Hampshire. My disappointment caught me a little off-guard. And it even caught my husband a little off-guard who turned to me after HRC was announced NH's winner and said, "I didn't realize just how much I wanted Obama to win until now."

After his win in South Carolina, I think many folks like you and me finally feel we have enough collective company to hope together with, and we're coming out and finally voicing our excitement about Obama-- an emotion we've (our generation) never really experienced before over a Presidential candidate. It's an excitment not just about hope, but about unity, moving forward together. Something we've soooo been craving.

Go O!

Scott said...

I hear you on the cynicism. I've come to view cynicism as my prideful clinging to the way things are rather than the way things have been called to be.
My disdain for all things Boomer was not justification enough for me to believe in the power of unbridled optimism. My legalistic upbringing was used too long as a buffer against ever believing in the innate goodness of people.
No more. It's morning in America :D

SteveA said...

Well this boomer, influenced by his sons, is now pulling for Obama. Not that I have any disdain for McCain or Clinton or the others. They are each virtuous in their own ways. I'm ready for something different and everything he says and how he responds to what's said about him seems to justify the excitement.

J-Wild said...

Well said, and the fact that so many are willing to drop their cynicism is further proof to me that we are in a once in a generation moment with Obama. I have watched the SC speech several times and continue to be moved by it.

There is a stirring.