Thursday, January 22, 2009

Ding Dong The Witch Is Dead



Here's Pete Seeger and Bruce Springsteen backed by beautiful gospel singers at the Obama Inaugural celebration, doing This Land Is Your Land. Watch Pete's eyes gleam when he does the private property verse. A moment worth watching again and again. Looking at that gorgeous crowd, I'm feeling something like, what, can it be ... hope! Definitely hope.

As for Obama's speech speech? Perfect pitch. The sea of tear streaked faces said it all.

No blues skies everything-is-fine, no-sacrifice-necessary bullshit that we've heard for years on end. The assessment of the American moment was as real as real gets and came just moments into the speech:
That we are in the midst of crisis is now well understood. Our nation is at war, against a far-reaching network of violence and hatred. Our economy is badly weakened, a consequence of greed and irresponsibility on the part of some, but also our collective failure to make hard choices and prepare the nation for a new age. Homes have been lost; jobs shed; businesses shuttered. Our health care is too costly; our schools fail too many; and each day brings further evidence that the ways we use energy strengthen our adversaries and threaten our planet.

These are the indicators of crisis, subject to data and statistics. Less measurable but no less profound is a sapping of confidence across our land - a nagging fear that America's decline is inevitable, and that the next generation must lower its sights.

Today I say to you that the challenges we face are real. They are serious and they are many.

And then, the soaring announcement of a new day:
On this day, we gather because we have chosen hope over fear, unity of purpose over conflict and discord. On this day, we come to proclaim an end to the petty grievances and false promises, the recriminations and worn out dogmas, that for far too long have strangled our politics.

He affirms America's strengths and calls upon us to put aside narrow self-interest in the pursuit of a vision of hope, action, and change:

We remain the most prosperous, powerful nation on Earth. Our workers are no less productive than when this crisis began. Our minds are no less inventive, our goods and services no less needed than they were last week or last month or last year. Our capacity remains undiminished. But our time of standing pat, of protecting narrow interests and putting off unpleasant decisions - that time has surely passed. Starting today, we must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and begin again the work of remaking America.

For everywhere we look, there is work to be done. The state of the economy calls for action, bold and swift, and we will act - not only to create new jobs, but to lay a new foundation for growth. We will build the roads and bridges, the electric grids and digital lines that feed our commerce and bind us together. We will restore science to its rightful place, and wield technology's wonders to raise health care's quality and lower its cost. We will harness the sun and the winds and the soil to fuel our cars and run our factories. And we will transform our schools and colleges and universities to meet the demands of a new age. All this we can do. And all this we will do.

Obama calls us to "a new era of responsibility," and invokes the values that we all share when we are true to our higher selves.
Our challenges may be new. The instruments with which we meet them may be new. But those values upon which our success depends - hard work and honesty, courage and fair play, tolerance and curiosity, loyalty and patriotism - these things are old. These things are true. They have been the quiet force of progress throughout our history. What is demanded then is a return to these truths. What is required of us now is a new era of responsibility - a recognition, on the part of every American, that we have duties to ourselves, our nation, and the world, duties that we do not grudgingly accept but rather seize gladly, firm in the knowledge that there is nothing so satisfying to the spirit, so defining of our character, than giving our all to a difficult task.
And then, beautifully, he quotes George Washington to again say that we are in great crisis and danger, and that our hope and virtue are our greatest assets.
"Let it be told to the future world...that in the depth of winter, when nothing but hope and virtue could survive...that the city and the country, alarmed at one common danger, came forth to meet [it]."
This is leadership and this is greatness. This is a man who speaks truth about our moment in history and articulates a vision to match. Obama calls us to personal and collective greatness, to set aside our narrow self-interests for the collective good, to accept sacrifice, and to rise to the many challenges before our nation. Obama inspires us to become our best selves, and to find meaning in struggle and sacrifice for the common good.

History has turned the page.

Meanwhile, The Onion's gleeful fantasies of a series of gruesome Presidential accidents is at an end: George W. Bush has died peacefully in his sleep.


13 comments:

arikohn said...

No, Tim, you're wrong; while there may be "false hope," there is no reason for "real" hope.

I was in Olympia yesterday sitting with a very senior Senator who told me the budget deficit is so severe that, literally, if Washington were to close all of its prisons plus all of its schools the State would still be short of covering the deficit. The good news is some legislators, like the leader with whom I sat yesterday, have the courage to face the need for new taxes head on - resultant to which, "hopefully," programs like ADATSA and GAU will not go down the tubes (as your governor, not mine, has planned in her budget).

The bad news is there seems to be no answer to the riddle of a better life for so many people that I am disheartened even to the point of not knowing which step to take next: About two years ago, maybe a little longer, a black man in Spokane applied to the Post-Prison Education Program. The Scholarship Committee declined his application believing that he was not capable of college level work. The Program Coordinator overrode the Scholarship Committee and approved him - a man who I see today as a noble person with a wonderfully good heart. This man, who came up in the gangs of Los Angeles and who has spent about 20 of the last 22 years in prisons and jails from Airway Heights, Washington to LA and Houston did very well in community college for about two years. He had problems, but other than for a very short relapse (from which he pulled himself up with his own personal strength) he stayed "clean and sober" (for some reason, I'm starting to not like that clichéd terminology) and kept his eyes on the future.

His dream was to become a drug counselor, to help people avoid the life he has led. He has worked to deal with creditors, focused on building a relationship with his daughter, worked a thousand times harder than I have ever dreamed of working to overcome being "learning disabled" and what some say may be a "developmental disability."

At some point within the last year, I realized there would come a time when this man would run into the wall of knowing he would not be able to realize his dreams. That time probably came within the last month....

About an hour ago, I found myself writing to a lady in the DOC's Family Services Unit in Spokane as follows:

" ... It’s too complicated to type it all down, but he is in a downward swirl precipitated by failing a low level of ABE math last quarter, losing his financial aid (we were able to have that restored), and, bottom-line, running into the titanium wall of probably realizing that he may not be able to realize his dream of becoming a counselor.

"The last two text messages I received from him, sent about one hour apart, read, “Ari I am not doing well,” and “Ari my life is fucked up.”

"Laying in bed worrying about him for the last hour, I kept thinking along the lines of the drug Court here in King County, that the only real way for him to get the help he needs with his addiction is to catch a new case (here, if he was involved in a case, he could simply ask the Court to order in-patient care). If I am correct, then that is obviously more sad than death...."

Tim, if there is no hope for this truly noble man then I believe there is no hope for the rest of us - or, maybe I should type, I believe there should be no hope for the rest of us....

Ari Kohn

Tim Harris said...

Well, look who else is up in the middle of the night thinking about how screwed we are. I gave up on sleep at around 3:30 am, made coffee and oatmeal, read a bit of Western's Punishment and Inequality in America, played some guitar, watched Obama's speech for the first time, wrote this post, and in an hour will leave to meet a friend for breakfast.

We the driven. We, the appreciators of our true fuckedness. We, those who are tapped into our rage and can't sleep at night. We, the fighters. We, the ones who sometimes despair because we choose truth over denial. We, those who see the carnage of our system, as one personafter another is eaten alive before our eyes. We, the ones who inadequately attempt to reconcile our actions with the demands of the moment. We, the sleep deprived.

Remember Gramsci, from, appropriately enough, The Prison Letters. We must have a pessimism of the intellect and an optimism of the will. Without this optimism of the will, we have nothing. Nothing.

I love and salute you Brother. Talk to you soon.

rumela lony said...

I was just watching the Wizard of Oz last night for more inspiration on some new signs. You know how much I love doing oz signs! Anyway, quite interesting read on the Coroner and as you said his scene in the movie was such a pivotal one as the Munchkins were now free from terror by the Wicked Witch of The East. And of course the death of the witch sent Dorothy on her magical journey to the Emerald City. thank you for shearing your post.

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