Summoning a New Spirit

NYTObama.jpgIt is difficult to put into words the feelings of the last few days, the sense of genuine pride, of relief, of hope, of new possibility; the sense of gravity for the seriousness of the situation we now face, the very weight of responsibility that comes with an accomplishment like this.

From the moment I saw the President-elect walk onto the stage in Grant Park on Tuesday night, I knew he was changed. The full weight of the Office was squarely on his shoulders, and he bore it well.

As I listened to him speak, I was filled with a solemn sense of elation; joy in the moment, earnest in the face of the enormity of the task.  Obama captured this sense of solemn elation when he said:

What began 21 months ago in the depths of winter cannot end on this autumn night. This victory alone is not the change we seek; it is only the chance for us to make that change.  And that cannot happen if we go back to the way things were.  It can’t happen without you, without a new spirit of service, a new spirit of sacrifice.  So let us summon a new spirit of patriotism, of responsibility where each of us resolves to pitch in and work harder and look after not only ourselves, but each other.

The passage resonates with almost every speech Obama has given through the campaign; it invites us to participate in something larger than ourselves, and it uses “this day, this election…this defining moment” to turn our attention toward new possibilities, to a future not measured by days or months, but by centuries.  It seized the moment as the opportunity to ask us to to imagine what we want to be and how we want it to be for our children.

From the start, Obama has had a sense for what the Greeks called the kairos, the right moment. It is a term that means also due measure, proper proportion, fitness; the proper time for planting, the season when growth is best cultivated. This most ancient of words not only designates the sense of timing with which the Obama campaign has operated, but it also beautifully articulates the very manner of its operation: balanced, steady, measured.

And now, they have turned from campaigning to governing with a swiftness that is to be admired.  Without a break, the Chief of Staff, Rahm Emmanuel, has been established and a new website launched: change.gov

One senses that this is just the beginning and that we will be asked to be an important part of what is to come.

Join the discussion 5 Comments

  • Janet Filing says:

    I am euphoric! This is the beginning of a new day for us all. We all have our personal stories about the day after but mine is one of neighborhood and joy in living next to people who are reveling in this WIN.
    I walk everyday and for four and a half years I have been wearing my Obama hat and other buttons for our new President. On Nov. 6, as I walked in my neighborhood in Mt. Airy, a young black man said “Hi” as did I and then with a broad smile, he said, “You’re the Obama Lady”! I said I am and he reached into his car and pulled out a CD he had made and gave it to me. It was called Rock Obama. I was touched and took it with pride and shook his hand in thanks for this gift. I heard the CD with friends in my neighborhood book group and we love it. I will call him and thank him today.
    I am sure that many people have stories like this in the days following this historic election. All our marching, fighting, living, and praying has come to fruition. We are truly the melting pot nation now and we are proud and hopeful in new ways and for new reasons because our new President Elect has promised to heal this nation and through our support and efforts to bring healing to this world. It is already happening and I am joyful. JI Filing

  • Thank you for sharing this story here, Mom. You deserve a lot of credit for being one of the first people out there strongly for Obama. I think you had an Obama ’08 bumpersticker on the car before Obama reached the bottom stair of the stage at the 2004 Democratic Convention.
    I hope this feeling of empowerment and community translates into genuine change. With work, it will.

  • Russell Long says:

    Obviously, I join you and all others in celebrating the Obama victory. I never thought I’d live to see the day. I would have felt the same about seeing a woman in the White House, but somehow, this is better. I think it speaks volumes of how far we’ve come as a nation. I must confess that it’s hard to read about the increase in gun sales since the election and to hear discussions (e.g.: Bill Maher and P. Diddy Combs) about security issues around Obama, but, I trust we will get through whatever is to come. He will be a great president!
    However, I am concerned about some of his appointments. For someone who’s wants to bring about change and reduce the role of lobbyists in the administration, I’m not sure he’s following through completely. So many of his appointees are people who have been involved in Washington politics for quite some time. I am particularly wary of John Podesta, who owns his own lobbying firm. To have someone like that in such a key position as Transition Chair, raises some questions with me. Obviously, a new president needs people who have been around somewhat and knows how the system works. (Clinton’s appointment of Matt McClarty, a total Washington novice, as his Chief of Staff was disastrous.) In fact, I don’t think Obama can do it with out, at least, some “insiders.” I am concerned that he set some standards he won’t be able to entirely meet or, even, that he shouldn’t meet!
    I’m very interested in responses.

  • Thanks, Dad, for this comment. I too remain concerned about Obama’s safety, but We will just have to trust that the Secret Service. As for the transition, I think we need to see the entire cabinet before we really criticize Obama for being too caught up with the old guard. You are right that he will need to draw on some of that expertise, but I want him to develop new directions, as he as promised.
    I am watching the Secretary of Treasury post very closely because I don’t want to see Rubin or Summers in that position. Those two seem to me to have advocated and enacted policies of deregulation that had a direct impact on our current situation.

  • Nikki Massaro Kauffman says:

    I’m very excited as well. I personally would love to see Robert Reich back in action and wonder whether Larry Lessig would be named to that CTO spot. Perhaps that’s my own wishful thinking?

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