Archive for the ‘Obama’ Category

Thank you for all your words that we can reflect on, that point us towards Jesus, that point us towards Unity, that point us towards Love.

Thank you for demonstrating how to live for a higher cause.

Thank you for your struggles, which have enhanced our lives.  Not only the lives of our black brothers and sisters, but the lives of everyone on earth.  You have made my life better because you have given me more opportunities to interact with people from all different backgrounds.  You have made it possible for me to  sit in more rooms with African Americans, to listen to their stories and their struggles, hopes, and dreams.  Our work isn’t finished yet, but you’ve reminded us of the work.  And we are getting better.  Thanks to you.

Thank you for all the wonderful conversations I can have about your writings with my students.  I have already had a couple, and it’s just amazing to see the way your eloquence, poise, and poetry have opened their minds and mine.  I’m looking forward to bringing your name up in my classrooms.

I’m looking forward to thanking you in person, to sharing meals with you at our Lord’s feast.  For now, I will just go on living my life, doing the best with what God gives me, and letting your words inspire me on the way.



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I found this article, “The Mindful Candidate” in the Bangkok Post. I’m always amazed to see when someone from other parts of the world makes, or at least tries to make a connection with Barack Obama. To me, this is change enough (for now.)

The commentator, Nash Siamwalla, spends most of the article connecting the Obama campaign with several Buddhist principles, but this was the part that made me blush:

Something in the back of our minds said that we were witnessing history, and that we seemed to have arrived at the dawn of another chapter in a more principled humanity. In the candidate himself, there is a powerful lesson that we can learn from. It is not just for politicians who dream of running a successful campaign and a landslide victory; the lesson is equally valuable for the rest of us. It would be ideal, though, if the world’s politicians could learn the underlying message that Obama delivers, and the values that drove him and shaped his character.

Here is the picture of him, sort of looking like the Thai Buddha head:

You know I eat this stuff up.

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In Spanish.

PS: I am posting this in slight humor.

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I keep seeing buttons and stickers that say “Yes We Did,” which has caused me to ask the question in the title.

Most people have forgotten that Obama introduced his Yes We Can theme in his concession speech after losing in New Hampshire to Hilary Clinton. That’s why that speech is so incredible: he formed this mantra when he lost. It’s a sort of resurrection phrase. He gave that speech at a time when no one knew in what direction he would go. Before he introduced the phrase, people were chanting “We want change,” which got replaced with Yes We Can for, I believe, every speech that came after. It may be because of Will.I.Am, who turned the last portion of this speech into a music video/celebrity campaign ad, that Obama went on to win. 

The first part of this section does well to reveal what we’ve already done:

It was a creed written into the founding documents that declared the destiny of a nation: Yes, we can.

It was whispered by slaves and abolitionists as they blazed a trail towards freedom through the darkest of nights: Yes, we can.

It was sung by immigrants as they struck out from distant shores and pioneers who pushed westward against an unforgiving wilderness: Yes, we can.

It was the call of workers who organized, women who reached for the ballot, a president who chose the moon as our new frontier, and a king who took us to the mountaintop and pointed the way to the promised land: Yes, we can, to justice and equality.

We’ve sent a powerful message to the world that America remembers how far we’ve come and wants to continue in a direction of progress. As someone who has just lived outside the US, I know what a big deal this is (but I don’t think one needs to experience the outside to know this). When I sang in a cover band on Khao San Road, I’d have about thirty minutes or so after our 15 song set to wait for the bar owner to pay us. I spent this time talking to Farang, both ex-pats living in South East Asia and travelers, most of whom were not American. They loved to express to me their views of America. Farang love to talk politics, I realized, and this contrasted the Thai people’s respect for the idea that politics and religion should not be discussed. I found myself both apologizing for the Bush Administration and defending the US. Our band stopped playing before Obama started running in the primaries, so I wasn’t yet at a point when I could use him in our defense. If our band had played four or five months later, I know our conversations would be different. Most of the people I talked to were amazed that such a large portion of America did not stand behind the war and the Bush Administration.

It is probably because of these conversations, and my own deep convictions about the war and the American economy (which had already fell so much that I went to Bangkok for job security) that the prospect of an Obama presidency overwhelmed me with so much, yes, hope. So, the first thing we’ve done is allow the rest of the world to see the other side of America, a side more conscious and concerned about the rest of the world, a side less arrogant.

We’ve also, as my friend Lisa pointed out in her reaction to the election, cut through some of the cynicism that has built up from the last two elections. I know it has cut through mine, which was at its height when I worked in a department store stock room, four years ago, and witnessed the deflation of hope among those at the bottom of the economy. I saw how they voted and then gave up on America, some vowing to never vote again. I may have made the same vow.

We’ve elected a strong leader; an intelligent man who speaks well and demands respect, a man who graduated from Harvard Law and who has a sense of humor about himself. We’ve elected a practical man, who in his first press conference after the election, addressed the economy by assuring the American people that it was going to take a long time to fix. I don’t know if we’ve elected a leader who can reach across the aisle because he hasn’t had to reach across it yet—it’s hard to say if those who elected him were previously on the other side of the aisle, though maybe victories in Iowa, New Mexico, Virginia, and North Carolina attest to his ability to do that.

In the speech, Obama declared: We know the battle ahead will be long. But always remember that, no matter what obstacles stand in our way, nothing can stand in the way of the power of millions of voices calling for change.”

So that’s what we’ve done. We’ve formed the millions of voices calling for change; right now, that’s all we’ve done. But if we take a look at the rest of the speech,

Yes, we can, to opportunity and prosperity. Yes, we can heal this nation. Yes, we can repair this world. Yes, we can.

And so, tomorrow, as we take the campaign south and west, as we learn that the struggles of the textile workers in Spartanburg are not so different than the plight of the dishwasher in Las Vegas, that the hopes of the little girl who goes to the crumbling school in Dillon are the same as the dreams of the boy who learns on the streets of L.A., we will remember that there is something happening in America, that we are not as divided as our politics suggest, that we are one people, we are one nation.

There is another t-shirt/button that reads “Yes We Can, Yes We Did, Yes We Will.” I like this one more because it acknowledges the work we have to do. We’ve not yet healed this nation, nor have we yet healed the world. The plight of the textile workers, the dishwasher, and the girl who goes to the crumbling school still exists. Our politics are still split. We still need the last line of his speech: together, we will begin the next great chapter in the American story, with three words that will ring from coast to coast, from sea to shining sea: Yes, we can.

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Barack was in the D today and so a few people (namely my brother, Marty, my aunt Donna and my Uncle Karl and my Joel) joined me to go watch him speak. We didn’t get very close–we watched the speech on a screen–but it was still a great way to spend Labor Day morning.

I got a little choked up to see the diversity and size of the crowd who came downtown. It’s always great to see a bunch of people in my city and this time it seemed especially significant, as Obama’s message was about unity. That is a message my city needs more than any other.

It was worth it to just see the t-shirts people wore. Our favorite one said “BLACK MAN RUNNING this time not from the police!” or something like that on the back. Cracked us up. People were selling buttons, 6 for $10, from the DNC and some of them had Obama’s face where Muhammed Ali should have been, saying “Knock You Out!” and others had Malcolm X’s head with Obama’s face. The weirdest one was of Obama’s face over Willy Wonka saying “Barack Obama invites you to the 2008 DNC.”

The crowd was peppy and civilized. Some people were playing drums while we waited in line. At another point, a mariachi band entertained us. When the screen came on, for the first five minutes, a union person (don’t know who…) announced Obama’s appearance and the camera was focused on this lady standing off to the side. The crowd got antsy then, and started to chant, “Move the Camera!!!” over and over. Luckily they did show Obama shaking people’s hands and making slightly annoying politician gestures before he got up there. We could see and hear him fine (on the screen). It was great to be with the cheering crowd. The speech was short, mostly about New Orleans, but it was satisfying.

At one point, a little boy whined to his mom that he couldn’t see and she said, “It’s okay, baby, you’re already making history…” Not sure exactly what she meant but I think we all felt like we were a part of something big, even if it were just the fact that white people and black people were smashed together in the heart of Detroit for, as Obama would say, “A common purpose.”

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Can we please please please stop comparing Obama to Hitler? The only thing they have in common is that they can/could speak well. Maybe also the fact that some people didn’t really pay attention to what they said and just got excited about them. But I do pay attention to what he says and trust me, they have little in common when it comes to what they are saying… I mean, what is this about? Do we compare anyone who is eloquent to Hitler? (And was Hitler really that eloquent? He always seems angry and screaming to me. Obama comes off to me as calm and reasonable. But that is sort of beside the point…)

Obama isn’t perfect. I’m sure it’s possible to find something else to dislike about him besides the fact that he makes marvelous speeches.

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The audience cracked me up.  Maybe all 200,000 of them were drunk.  I don’t know.  But they cheered after he said his dad grew up herding goats in Kenya…

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