It’s such a powerful phrase, filling with longing, faith, a conviction that something, many things, might be better than they are.
I gave up on all levels of my Canadian government, as well as the world’s governments, at a very young age. I’m not sure I can ever remember believing that my government was just, or that it served the interests of the people who voted for whoever was in power at the time. I never had a teacher whom I remember instilling any sort of reverence for the act of governing, not even for what it could be in ideal circumstances.
But as a person, I have always been filled with optimism and hope. I think I came hard-wired with it. In fact, I don’t remember ever not having it. But I’ve never quite been able to reconcile my lack of faith in government, with the optimism that is so much a lynch pin of my personality.
Throughout my life, when conversation around me turned to politics, I usually kept my mouth shut, largely because I didn’t feel knowledgeable about the issues and because I didn’t feel I understood how government really worked, certainly beyond anything more than the broadest strokes. I would say that I felt alienated by the whole process and I confess that I have been ashamed of my ignorance.
In the last few years, I feel I’ve been coming of age politically. In our last federal election I finally felt as though I had some grasp of the issues and the positions of the candidates. It has only taken me close to half a century to get to this place!
Stirrings of hope
I feel hope today, on the occasion of the 44th US presidential inauguration – a stirring in my breast. I don’t know what has changed except perhaps the times. I don’t believe that I’m seeing Barack Obama through rose-coloured glasses. I see a man, a relatively young man for a politician, who will surely stumble and make mistakes, as we all do. The country’s agenda is almost impossibly daunting and the times are difficult. There is a big mess to be cleaned up, but it isn’t just America’s mess. I believe it belongs to all of us. We are all going to have to pitch in and do our piece to clean up the world.
What does the new man on the block bring?
I think that this man has the ability, and I believe it IS an ‘ability’, to inspire people, to help them to know they have a place in the process and that they are necessary. If this ‘small c change‘ is truly to be a ‘Change’, we will collectively have to find new ways of doing everything. We will have to think outside the proverbial box and, indeed, find new ways of thinking altogether. That means there will be room for everyone to bring something valuable to the table.
Successful change of this magnitude is going to require lots of people to get creative. I think they already have been, but the national and international climates haven’t been conducive to bringing the treasure of who they are or what they have created out into the open. I believe we’ve been encouraging people to hide their light under a proverbial bushel while we’ve been reinforcing the holiness of conformity. We’ve sacrificed people’s ingenuity and talent on the alter of society’s idea of profitable consumerism. Creative citizens and outspoken critics could lose their financial heads as well as their reputations if they dared to suggest that the emperor wasn’t wearing any clothes.
A plethora of brilliance
The perverse advantage to this climate could be that there might very well be a plethora of brilliance out there in the world, just waiting to be invited to the party. All those people who have been feeling disempowered by the political, social and economic environment of the last fifty-odd years could, if we encourage them, come out of hiding and provide us with great, innovative riches that we didn’t even know we had.
Which brings me back to my original assertion that there is still HOPE for us. Maybe the new president will hand out encouragement and then fan the flames of creativity. Who knows what could happen?
Bring out your hidden talents. Dare to speak out to your friends and neighbours and colleagues. Share yourself. I promise to cheer you on. You, or someone just like you, could be just what we need next. And if you’re not one of those people who have been hiding your light, find someone who has and fan their little flame until it’s big enough to attract some attention!