Wednesday, November 05, 2008

So where do we go from here....

...and what in the world will we find to blog about?

Seriously though, now that the initial glow is beginning to fade and we all realize that Barack Obama is not the Second Coming of Christ, the real work is ahead of us.

Just a few thoughts: As someone who is closer to the end than the beginning, I spent some time remembering the things we've been through in the past 40 years. We lived through the Civil Rights Movement, the murder of a president and a senator, Kent State, the Vietnam War, the Cold War ... all the things I mentioned yesterday.

I can't help but believe the seeds we planted in those days are sprouting now. Not blooming yet. Sprouting. They're going to grow, those seeds, and it will hopefully grow into a beautiful blooming tree, one that will help shade us from some of the cynicism and hopelessness that has become so much of the national character.

That began in the 80s, by my memory. The national ethos was all about greed, acquisition and power. It was a backlash against the ethos of the 60s. While many people think of George Michael and Pat Benetar, I remember the unwarranted invasion of Grenada and the taunting of the Soviet Union by Ronald Reagan that more than once brought us to the brink of nuclear conflict. I remember that gay people were just beginning to crack open the closet. I remember union busting and human values being translated into corporate values. Women no longer left the home for the workplace by choice. It became an expectation. Kids were left in day care while the mothers adopted the very male values of power and competition. Hedonism was the call word of the day.

Hate became socially sanctioned in those days. It was no longer okay to be racially prejudiced against African-Americans and other Black people so other prejudices took its place. Gay people, Hispanic people and Vietnamese people were at the top of the list. As that lost acceptability, it turned to body size and social position. The harshness of judgment seeped into the commentary of the day. It was just a bit more cloaked and subtle.

The 80s were hardly all about bleached blond hair, layered clothes and drug dealers on speed dial.

It is largely that foundation that we are working with now. Somehow we have to find a comfortable balance between the extremes of the 60s and the extremes of the 80s and 90s. Cultures frequently overcompensate and go from one extreme to the other before coming back to a middle ground.

Now we have the chance to find that balance and create a society in which equality isn't an ideal on paper - but a living reality. We have the opportunity to accept diversity in a way that's not merely politically correct tolerance but true and substantial acceptance. Beyond that, we can learn to embrace them and learn to work with them for the benefit of all people.

It won't be easy because belief systems are usually the hardest to change. There's a lot of emotion and identity wrapped up in our belief systems. It will require a level of vigilance that few of us are accustomed to adopting. It means challenging ourselves to get into alignment with this new stage of social evolution. The magnitude of these changes can't be overstated.

If nothing else, the entire process should provide interesting blog fodder. We'll all have new thoughts over the next several months as we begin to see the changes.

I'll look forward to reading them.

So what are your thoughts?



heartinsanfrancisco said...

In all things, the pendulum swings to both extremes before it finds that sweet spot in the middle where it can serve the most people well. We are off to a very good start.

I would disagree with your remarks on only one small point. In my recollection, social snobbishness was prevalent in the 50's, and one of the main societal issues that were rebelled against by the flower children of the 60's. Our perspective on this is different because of our age difference, I suspect.

Obama offers hope and a lot of other extraordinary qualities, but we will all be called upon to change our beliefs and behaviors; he cannot do it all by himself.

These are exciting times and more importantly, they offer us the opportunity of our lifetime to make real and meaningful changes in our society and to impact the world in a more compassionate and intelligent way. I am very happy to be here right now as it all unfolds.

Ruth Hull Chatlien said...

Unfortunately, I think that for many people, the first priority of the day will be to restore the "prosperity" of the U.S., even if that means at the expense of the rest of the world. But I think that it will be more acceptable for people to talk about social justice and civil rights in the new climate.

womaninawindow said...

I see the change as a slow creeping thing. We're smarter than this. It should be faster. We're simply not as good as we could be. We're a little too lazy for a thousand different reasons. But this is one thing might just help accelerate things. In that we as a society are a little stupid and lazy and selfish, if pop culture changes it will change the whole culture. I'm seeing it in Canada, with mixed race in commercials and comedies without question, without race being central, just because it's a slice of life. And gay people populating our politics and sitcoms. People start simply accepting people, 'cause it's easier really, if you think about it. It's easier to accept. That way we can still manage to be lazy, just this way we can be happy too. (Sorry, my kids are going nuts and I can't form my thoughts coherantly.)

Mary said...

I'm up for it. The election has highlighted race, even when all races contributed to Obama's success. As a person who is working in a group of 20 Black Americans, I am the white token. It's OK. For the past few weeks, I'm feeling the tension on our friendships - As before, and more now, I'm the outsider looking in, perhaps to be expected and warranted. But that's OK! This shall pass because now there is opportunity and no reason to fuss about inequality. I feel good about the election after my tantrum last night but still distrustful and disgusted.

Maithri said...

So well said my friend,

Will we ever run out of things to fear one another over?

I belive that this is an important step in the right direction.

The direction of peace,

Love to you, Maithri

Anonymous said...

I think this was an overdue corection, a return to the (painfully) slow progress of civil rights. Not just race, but sexual orientation and gender and so on. I knwo there will be the ignorant minority who will balk, but I feel this signals a new desire among the general popelation to move forward. I'm very hopeful that we will start the hard work that is needed.

Anonymous said...

I don't know why people think Obama is liberal or progressive. His voting record indicates otherwise.

I think there are going to be a lot of dissapointed people about three months into his presidency.

Carol said...

Thanks for this provocative post. I found the comments so far to be very interesting.

I liked Maithri's question.

Today, I choose love and courage over fear.

Cecilieaux said...

Put down that cigarette, Chani, I'm still basking in the afterglow.

Leann said...

If hope is what it takes to bring us together as a nation and that is the ONLY thing this election has done, then it has been worth everything we've gone through.

Dianne said...

I look forward to the coming months. To seeing how (and if) we can keep this level of involvement going. Record #'s voted. Now record #'s need to get moving - there is so much a single person can do.

I make a rukus at town meeting over open space and animal rights. At first I was intimidated by 'the fold' and overwhelmed by greedy developers BUT I keep at it.

And I have noticed more people nodding their heads when I speak up.

Ignorance is the enemy of progress.

Jen of A2eatwrite said...

My basic thoughts is that we have a great deal of work to do as both a national entity and as a society. If we want to survive, we need to turn our thinking around in a major way and steer away from being a society of consumers to a society of producers - and I don't mean producing products - I mean producing in the sense of action - building a stronger infrastructure, non-religious-based national volunteer system, support for local businesses and small farms, return to sound ecological policy, etc.

Anonymous said...

I think Obama has a completely new take on the world and America's place in it. I think he is revolutionary in his thinking. It will take time. Those who expect a serious left wing push and revenge spewed upon the Republicans will be disappointed I think. He is just not that type of person. He will stand up as a person to be emulated, and by example, I hope, induce others to have the courage to strike forth in a new way of relating. Perhaps I'm overly euphoric at this point, but I do hope for something truly new here.

Peace is every step said...

Thanks for visiting my site. I do indeed hope to be the old Granny talking about times gone by to little ears who couldn't imagine an unequal world.

Christy said...

I read a book you'd like "Somebodies and Nobodies" is about how to respect accomplishment without deifying the person, how to keep everyone's basic human dignity intact while promoting achievement.

I didn't find the 80's like you said....I was a college student and maybe it was my age and that I was young and idealistic and just didn't even acknowlege anything else.

I'm an Obama supporter too, though.

kylie said...

thanks for your visit to eclectica, i'm posting everyday right now, which i like but it leaves me less time for commentsie backsies and the like so know that youre welcome and i'll chat soon

we_be_toys said...

It should be interesting, to say the least! I don't expect miracles from Mr. Obama, but I do think he has the interest of the little people more at heart than what we've seen.
It would be nice to come back to some semblence of a middle ground, between the idealism of the 60s and the consumerism of the 80s and 90s.

MsLittlePea said...

The glow is beginning to fade? Nobody told me. :O) I'm still in that euphoric state where I'm smiling at everyone and no one and hear my heart beating.....I said something to myself the other day that I've never said before,"I can do anything." I'm no dreamer, I don't expect miracles but I'm beginning to wonder something. If I can take part in getting 10,000 more people to vote than the ones who already did in the last election, what else could I do? And I'm ready to find out. Some of it has nothing to do with Obama and everything to do with a sense of pride I have in myself for even getting involved in something I believed in and finding myself excelling at reaching people I would have too shy to even have said hello to 6 months ago. I feel changed. So I'm not ready to let go of that balloon of happiness just yet. (And here I thought I lost my youthful optimism a long time ago. Ask me in a year if it was just a dead cat bounce but I refuse to think so.)And again I'm not expecting miracles from this president but I hope all who were drawn to getting involved stay involved. Your analysis of the 80s and 90s are precisely why I yearned so much to have been in the 60s when I was growing up. But then again I have a different image in my mind I guess. Was it all that they say it was? Wonderful and horrible is the last answer I got.