After all the anticipation and excitement about the US election, I ended up on an isolated camp site with three classes of beastly careless school children just when the whole thing was being decided (credit where credit is due - one did tell me he hoped Obama would win. I was impressed he even knew who Obama was). Such an anticlimax. One enormous, gigantic thankyou to my friend Robyn, who texted me with one word: 'woohoo :-)'. Her message said it all.
I know some of you in the USA aren't sure about Obama. I know I don't have to live with whatever economic policy he decides to implement - although in this global village maybe I will live with it despite our differing citizenship. I know a new person at the helm brings with it uncertainty. I know my mum thinks he is a dark horse who has not revealed everything he stands for. I know that some of his liberal policies do not conform to the moral values others hold dear. I know that at every election certain crazy Christians attempt to determine if the new president mightn't just be the antichrist. I know all that, but I still feel an incredible sense of relief that Barrack Obama is now the president elect.
I am reading a book by Barbara Kingsolver called 'Small Wonder'. In this collection of essays written after the 9/11 terrorist attacks she explores what in American society might have provoked such attacks. I am only three essays in, but her willingness to acknowledge the faulty value system of the USA (and most of the western world really) is confronting, refreshing, and challenging. She questions the benefit of fighting violence with violence, wonders if capital gain at the cost of people in other countries might not have fuelled the anger and bitterness that resulted in the attacks, and urges people to return to a deeper connection with the earth that sustains them. I cannot help but think the world would be a better place if we all lived by the alternative values she argues for so beautifully.
For me, Obama embodies some of these values Barbara Kingsolver espouses. He advocates for diplomacy over war, justice and respect for people of all persuasions, distributing wealth more equitably. These ideals resonate strongly with me. I am tired of the old way of doing things. Right down to Australia we have been protectionist, looking out for our own interests, rejecting compassion, worshipping profit, searching after continual economic growth while others less fortunate than ourselves have suffered the effects of our excesses.
I doubt Obama is a messiah able to solve all the ills of the world, but if he can respond to injustices and pain with compassion and peace then maybe he can change more things than we imagine. And perhaps that approach will cost us in terms of our own personal comfort. But that might not be so bad. We've had it pretty good for a long, long time. It's other people's turn now.