Wednesday, November 05, 2008

The key is the we

This is new territory for me. I don't know that I've ever been on the "winning" side of a Presidential election before. And, you know, I'm not sorry for feeling good; or even for being a bit hopeful. But as President-elect Obama said last night, nothing has changed... yet. It's thinking like that that won my support.

So, here are some thoughts on Barack Obama being the new President of the United States...

I really think the key to his winning was the slogan "Yes we can." Almost every day I heard it, or received an email that said something like, "Dan, this is what we'd like to do, and we want your help." The key was the "we." Not some Washington politicians can, not some rich people can, not even Joe-the-plumber can... but "we" can. He included everyone. While the other campaign was making enemies not only outside their party, but even inside their own party, Obama was rallying people of any party or no party at all -- we need you to bring about change. Change won't happen if we leave it to Republicans or Democrats or politicians or any one particular group. Change will only happen if "we" are willing to do something; if "we" are willing to work together.

Something else that gives me hope in all of this is that now - at least it appears to me - government is no longer some kind of strong-armed suit and wallet that has no connection to me or the regular people of the world, but it is now more socially conscious and almost a form of social activism. I don't for a second believe that government is the answer to anyone's problems, but if it can lead us to helping one another, and being concerned with issues of injustice, and can be a source of hope and aid... why is that wrong? Why is it any more wrong for government to want to serve people than for a food bank or a missions organization that wants to serve the people? Politics may be evil, but I don't believe that means politicians and government in-and-of-itself has to be evil. But again, this is a new thought for me.

I have to admit, watching the acceptance speech last night, it was hard to not feel proud. It was hard to not feel hopeful. It was hard to not feel like *I* was actually a part of this. And, yes, it's a bit hard to keep things in perspective. So I was glad that his speech was not about the fact that something had already been "won" or "changed." I was glad that he didn't say "this is it." I was glad, there at the end, when you could have heard a pin drop on the Grant Park grass, that he called each of us to responsibility. It's not about me, or you, or any one individual. It's about us. It's about people. And we've got a lot of work to do.

And I will admit... it's hard to not place too much hope in Barack Obama. He is NOT the Messiah. But I don't think he's asking anyone to look to him as the Messiah. I think he's asking us to take a look at OURSELVES... collectively. The "we."

It seems to me the message of Barack Obama is the same as that of the church today - and I mean the emerging/missional church. No, he doesn't often come right out and quote the Bible, but there are plenty of biblical references in his language. His message is the same. It's not about top-down leadership; it's not about programs or institutions... it's about us... we... nothing is impossible... yes we can.

It seemed to me that his acceptance speech was more of a sermon than a political address. Maybe that's corny, but that's what it felt like to me. And I was inspired. Obama is not Jesus, government is not the church, nothing has changed yet... but I do think he will be a good President, not only for our country, but for the world.

I don't know... this was all off the top of my head. But I am not ashamed for being happy, or hopeful. I think it's biblical to ask people to pull together, to ask people to have a concern for their fellow brothers and sisters, to ask people to have hope. Why is it anymore wrong for a politician to say that than for me to say it? Sure, he's not pointing us to Jesus for that help and hope - that's my job. But I agree with him... Yes, we can.

Peace out; and in.


MR said...

There was always a consolation prize in this for me, even though my guy lost. There was a change last night that was much greater than the relief of the democrats to finally see the balance of power tilt their way, but rather by people who have never felt connected to their country because they had no investment in it are now invested. Today there are more Americans than there were a couple days ago, even though their geographic location didn't change.

He's still pretty much a mystery--he was elected because he embodied "change." Well, I could paint my house hot pink and it would be a change, so ???

We'll see, but less people feeling disgruntled and disenfranchised today hopefully translates into less complaining. And I am ready for that, man.

Jim said...


I voted for Obama as well. I agree with some of your points,even though I don't hold out quite as much hope as you do (see my most recent blog post as to why). But still, it is a time for hope.

[And per your next post, where you turned off comments - I am so sorry to hear about that. I won't say don't take it personally. But at the same time, don't take it personally. I mean, it seems to me people expect pastors to be mindless automatons of agreeability, and then they over-react when they find out their reverend has a mind of his own. All you can do is be yourself and love them anyway.]


I know - one of the most exciting things to me was that my 23 year old, who is usually VERY apolitical and apathetic, actually voted and was excited about the outcome. A new generation is coming forward. That's a good thing!