Never before have so many hopes by so many people been pinned on one simple man. Not in my adult lifetime has there been a more eloquent political speaker. Nor a man who could through word and deed galvanize a nation out of apathy and despair and into hope and action. That man is of course President Barack Obama.
As a Canadian I feel somewhat detached from the hoopla and Hollywood-esque star quality being thrust upon him and his every move. As one who leans toward cynicism, I hope that people everywhere realize that he is only human and only one man. Granted the most well-known and (perhaps) most powerful man in the world, but a man nonetheless. He seems too good to be true, especially after eight years of buffoonery. It is inevitable, in my opinion, that he will disappoint someone on some level.
For now, though, isn’t it a thrill to watch the spectacle of it all? To see the millions gathered for his inauguration? To see the tears of joy and emotion, particularly on the faces of African Americans? Many ordinary, elderly people didn’t believe this momentous event?electing a black president?would happen in their lifetime. Martin Luther King, Rosa Parks, Barack Obama: a triumvirate of history makers. I can only imagine what this event means to the disadvantaged and disillusioned.
I do know that no one has captivated my attention to that degree. Perhaps that is more a commentary on how blessed a life I’ve lived as an Albertan and a Canadian. I haven’t needed a Barack Obama in my life.
I remember, as a 17-year-old, meeting Peter Lougheed during a campaign stop in beautiful downtown Andrew in the days leading up to his election in 1971. He seemed solid and grounded and inspirational and I was young. History has judged him one of our finest premiers and still at age 81 he commands respect.
I never did get the appeal of Pierre Trudeau. To me he oozed arrogance and elitism?the antithesis of Obama. Obama, who painted a wall in a shelter the day before his inauguration. Obama, who had part of his recently deceased Hawaiian grandmother’s muumuu turned into the cummerbund for his tuxedo. Obama, who got a thumbs-up from his precocious young daughter.
On the surface he seems like Everyman. Beneath the surface he seems to have the compassion, smarts, and integrity to finally, thank you Lord, do the hard, right things for the right reasons.
Any thinking person knows the days ahead are going to be difficult for the entire world. So many, worldwide, are looking to Obama for leadership. As neighbours we want a good guy next door. I think we got that. May he raise the bar for all those who choose to serve. May he help all of us be and do better than we have been. At the very least, we owe him our support and our helpful action, from where I sit.