Miles from Home

China Commentary– Youthful Musings on the Environment, Culture & Development

Off of House-Arrest

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Alright, apologies to anyone patient enough to still check-in on this blog.  I recently moved.  The shift in address crippled my internet access, as I require my laptop to hack my way into the anti-censored web.  It took me a week or two to get my landlord to pull a few strings and get this all plugged in.

Anyways, I wanted to share an e-mail I recently sent to some friends in the forum-type email group I sometimes mention here.  It has to do with the Obama Race Speech, which I believe deserves all CAPS…

When I was in South Africa, when I met Simba and some of you, I had
the privilege of spending a lot of time with Evan.  Ev can explain his
own story, but, to me and for me, he did a damn proper job of keeping
a smile on my face.  The man is an optimist, and even if he isn’t, his
energy and positivity would fool you.  Now, one of my favorite things
about Ev was his little mantra before he set out for the day, for
class, to a hoops game or what have you.  He always chirped out his
kid-in-dad’s-shoes-slash-rapper slogan, “Let’s go to work.”

And Ev’s a pretty diligent man.  He’s done work, put in work.  And it
shows.  When I was reading this speech, doing my best to instill
Obama’s personal inflection between my own ears, I thought of that.  I
thought of the promise of this whole campaign and the work that lies
I have wondered when it would be that Obama would have to pitch this
tent.  I work in the media, and often it is shameful, especially when
you get an up-close look at the dollar signs that float around
people’s minds.  Race was going to come out.  The media has been
scouring every angle to find some shit-storm for ratings.  Because in
this world, its money, sex, drugs, death, hate.  That’s what the
audience wants, they are lashing their lips for more.  It’s shameful.
So this was Obama’s opus.  And I feel he delivered.  He did what he
has been doing.  He went to work.  And he asked us to come with him.
He’s right, a lesser man, certainly a lesser politician, would have
severed ties with his pastor.  He would have tried to throw dirt back
over the body of racism, though the grave we dig is always too
shallow.  But no, Obama didn’t do that.  He spoke outright, and he
challenged America to face the realities and challenges in a way we
have not been asked in a long time, specifically with race.
But that’s what Obama has been doing, and it is how he won me over.  I
was nodding my head in the section where he says we can chose to
ignore this and find another distraction next election.  And then
another, and another.  Because that’s how it has been.  Forever.
We Americans have a fancy habit of glorifying our past, we are
indoctrinated with it.  Obama himself echoes it in his “audacity of
hope.”  But like my uncle told me, America has never been the saint it
sees itself as, for as long as our history dates.  The one thing we
never lost is this ideology that we can solve problems, and that for
this reason we envision ourselves a few streets ahead on the path to
progress.  Everyone hearkens back to our “ancestors,” to the founding
fathers.  But what I particularly liked about Obama’s speech is that
he admit those guys weren’t right then, and the people that followed
didn’t have it all ironed out either.  We are an imperfect union, and
we have work to do.
“What would be needed were Americans in successive generations who
were willing to do their part – through protests and struggle, on the
streets and in the courts, through a civil war and civil disobedience
and always at great risk – to narrow that gap between the promise of
our ideals and the reality of their time.”
That last line is brilliant, “that gap between the promise of our
ideals and the reality of their time.”  Well, this is OUR time.  And
this is our job.  And like Ev says, we gotta go to work.
“This union may never be perfect, but generation after generation has
shown that it can always be perfected. And today, whenever I find
myself feeling doubtful or cynical about this possibility, what gives
me the most hope is the next generation – the young people whose
attitudes and beliefs and openness to change have already made history
in this election.”
It can always be perfected.  Damn, man, you know, it’s easy to be
cynical.  I live in China, shit isn’t too rosy over here.  The
implications for the future of our world are gloomy.  I’m too young to
think about my kids, and I have harbored the fear that this planet
might not be around long enough for me to need to worry.  But that’s
coppin’ out.  That’s surrendering.  That’s letting all these
puppet-masters who have bullied their way to the top keep pulling our
strings.  And I’m not cool with that.
So, I’m here.  Every day going to work, like Ev used to say.
Sometimes you just gotta keep your head down and your chin up at the
same time.  Keep pluggin’ away, keep facing the inner demons and
readying for those exterior battles.  Keep perfecting myself.  Because
its infectious, and it spawns hope.

Written by Miles

March 24, 2008 at 4:08 pm

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