Thursday, January 22, 2009

A New Dawn for America?

We live in a beautiful part of the world. Our community of Cobble Hill is near the South end of Vancouver Island. From the top of the actual Cobble Hill ( a small mountain in it’s own right), we get excellent views of Washington state - ranging from the San Juan Islands (about 10 miles West across the Georgia Strait or Puget Sound - depending on whether you're Canadian or not) to Mount Baker and the other peaks of the Cascade range. In fact, Seattle is considerably less than 100 miles to the SE.

Yesterday morning Kailee and I hiked up Cobble Hill to watch the sunrise. As we beheld this wonderful ritual of nature, I realized that this particular sunrise marked the first full day of Obama’s term as president. A brand-new day for America - and perhaps for the world.

I still have a difficult time believing that this man with the funny name is now the “Leader of the Free World”. Obama is African - not even Irish. Barack is even more intriguing. In Hebrew and Arabic the triliteral B-R-K means blessing. Is this just a coincidence - or is there a message here? On the other hand, the triliteral B-R-Q, also pronounced Barack - can mean lightning, or a flash of light.

Will Barack truly be a blessing - or just another flash in the pan?

I suspect that the answer to this question will depend more on the average American than it will on Obama. To his credit, he has been in office for less than 48 hours and he has already signed an order to close Guantanamo, taken steps to give Iraq to the Iraqis, restricted lobbyists, redirected the economic bail-out and blocked all of Bush’s last minute loopholes. These actions alone seem quite incredible.

Over the long haul it will take the will power and cooperation of a big majority of the American people before Obama can actually make progress on issues of entitlement, health care, energy consumption and foreign diplomacy. And this same majority of Americans will suffering through the life style adjustments brought on by a major recession.

Personally, I believe there is hope on the horizon. For example, the Sumter for Change group - Obama’s campaign volunteers in Americus - were the first major racially integrated advocacy group in the area. Rather than disbanding after the election, they are continuing to promote positive changes in education, health care and social services. The black churches are also preaching the message that Obama needs everyone to stay engaged in the remodelling of America. They can’t leave everything to him alone.

Nevertheless, Obama is only one man - and a politician at that. Is he sincere? Will his presidency result in any real positive change?

I certainly don’t know the answer - but isn’t that an outstanding view from Cobble Hill? The sun is just cresting over the ridge of the Saanich peninsula. To the left you can clearly see the volcanic cone of Mount Baker. Look closer along the horizon and you can see several peaks of the other Cascade mountains. As for the San Juan Islands and the lower coastal elevations of Washington, they are completely obscured by the fog.

It will take considerably more time before the fog clears and we can see what is underneath.

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