Sunday, October 11, 2009
Lest we forget, 10 months ago one man gave America and the rest of the world included, the hope it needed to convince themselves that 'hope' was possible in times of a global crisis. A global crisis we are still enduring and fighting to overcome. For a period of time, we acknowledged this significant moment in history for what it was and gave it the attention it rightly deserved, attention usually reserved for Angelina Jolie's children or Lindsay Lohan's rehab exploits. America recognised to move on. The nation needed to change its future, its attitude and President Elect Obama was to be this symbol of inspiration. In a frank and anticipated moment before Election Day, people were worried this time in their bruised and battered history would never happen, that another inept, uncharismatic Republican would be elected again and all hopes would be dashed in finally electing someone of true revolutionary value. But the totally unthinkable actually came true. Obama was finally voted into office. A "Goddam black man" as a bemused Texan plantation owner would say, became the most powerful man in the western world.
America needed this to happen. Hell, the whole world needed Obama. So we looked up too. That's right, we took noticed of American politics in a way we never had before and he engaged us with his eloquence and promised with staid humility he would do his best to make his country great again and give his nation the respect from the rest of the world once more. For the first time, cynics were subdued for a little while as we allowed ourselves to be carried by the swell.
But only for a little while.
What is interesting about this week's announcement that President Obama is to be this year's recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize, is the fact he himself has been first up to the block to express his complete surprise of being nominated and recognise he has yet to fulfill such a legacy worthy of such a distinguished prize. Despite Obama's seemingly lack of credentials, I congratulate him on receiving the Nobel Peace Prize. No, he has not created schools in desolate areas of a third world country or championed civil rights in a part of the world with an oppressive regime. He has yet to fulfill his legacy and like the rest of the world, I hope he lives up to his promise. Obama has done what anyone in his position would do, he has taken the accolade with humility and vowed to do his best to live up to it. Yes, we should be questioning the decisions of Nobel jury, bestowing a prize of this nature puts enormous pressure on him to succeed and is somewhat preemptive. I imagine Republicans are smacking their hands together in glee and anticipation to see "the Great Obama" being set up once again for an even greater fall from grace. It gives the opposition the opportunity to attack and pour criticism over Obama's lack of achievements since he entered the White House. To me, this makes as much sense as attacking Sean Pean for winning Best Actor last year and not the Academy who voted for him.
I worry about the danger of, dare I use the word 'mankind's pessimism'. For us to be united and overcome issues like the global recession or nuclear weapons development, we have to change our mindset and we have to work together. I realise this is an idealistic notion to demand from the cynical selfish world we live in, but past history shows us we are capable of achieving great things in times of crisis if forces work in unison. Is it necessary we have to endure another 9/11 or plunge into further economic crisis for us to be able to do this? Do we really have to perpetuate politician's skepticism so they can prove a point and live up to the reputation of being all rhetoric and no substance or do we allow ourselves to give into something greater? Unfortunately, I have no grand answers to this but I do feel it's important to at least, in some small way, stand up and say "I'm with you, I support what you're doing". I am grateful and have huge admiration for the one man who has managed to get me more politicised and more interested in government than any other politician I've known in my lifetime. I'm probably not the only one who has been influenced by President Obama in this small but important way either. We live in an apathetic world. Where more people vote for the X Factor than in their local elections. We have either been jaded by far too much rhetoric in the past or have grown up simply not caring anymore. But now we have a potential new generation who are inspired again by politics. Now to be able to do that especially for Gen Y, well, that does needs rewarding.