Posts Tagged ‘obama’

Reason #2: For Voices Like Sister Regina

November 3, 2008

Yesterday I said goodbye to my uncle and aunt after a family wedding over the weekend. As they drove away, I caught a glimpse of a small card they had hanging from their rear view mirror. I took a second look somewhat incredulously – there was Barack hanging proudly from the rear view mirror!

This got me to thinking about how this guy, who stands on the cusp of being elected to our presidency – hopefully – tomorrow, has managed to inspire voices from around the country, as well as the world to shout, speak, sing, and even cry out in support. How did Obama, in essence, come to adorn people’s rear view mirrors?

Sure, there have been some  oratory displays on issues that have long plagued our country, like race, that will surely go down in history. There have also been a sound political platform and promises of change.

But the excitement I’m seeing in the streets and cafes and airports and universities clearly trancends these essential aspects of a campaign. People are literally moved to tears over the raw emotion Obama evokes.

I’m betting the Obama mystique represents something much bigger. I’m betting it represents not only him having a voice and presenting policies we more or less agree with. I’m betting, on a larger scale, that Obama represents – more than ever before in our lifetimes – the possibility that you and I and our neighbors and friends might actually become part of a new progressive majority that is able to be heard amidst the cacophony of that complex and monolithic thing we call government (remember those community organizing roots that Palin bashed as unimportant). That would be a change. And that possibility is what is making people cry (and we’re talking public figures like Oprah, Chris Matthews, and Drew Barrymore, but also regular folks who attend his rallies).

Now this won’t come without a price, my friends (said in my best McCain accent). Here’s what Obama is asking of us from this point forward, if he gets into the White House.

First of all, he’s demanding that people wake up and pay attention to the world around them (remember that bumper sticker we’ve all probably seen, “if you’re not outraged you’re not paying attention!). Never before have I heard people debate the issues surrounding a presidential campaign in such an involved and impassioned way. Obama inspires this, he challenges us to get off our arses and get involved. But that can only happen when you have a clue what you’re getting involved in.

Secondly, Obama demands that we laugh at ourselves. Sometimes even in public. Never before have we had a presidential candidate inspire so much attention from our mainstream public media outlets. He dances. He sings – in Spanish. He appears on comedy shows. His performances even demanded that McCain and Palin meet him on this turf (click here to view – or read – that famous moose rap again!). This has certainly added some levity to a very long campaign. But more importantly, it helps take that mystery out of the people we have running for office in order to run our country. Beyond seeing them in debates and giving scripted stump speeches, we see them, to a degree, as people. People who can laugh at themselves.

Finally, after inspiring us to get educated, and to laugh at ourselves, Obama demands that we take to the streets. That we participate in whatever level we want to – from our neighborhoods to our world community, with everything in between. Sure, tomorrow holds promise for record numbers of voters. But, even more importantly, it holds promise for an involvement – that begins tomorrow – from those who haven’t been heard before. And that, my friends (yeah, I’m not letting John take that line from me) is powerful.

So, let me fill you in on the reason behind the Obama car ornament. Sure, my relatives (well, at least some of them) are voting for Obama. But here’s why they hung him up to accompany them on their drive. My uncle writes:

My uncle writes:
“The Obama picture hanging from the rear view mirror has a history—doesn’t everything! When Jean (my Aunt) was recovering from breast cancer she became friends with a Mercy Sister—Sister Regina Gnoit—she also had breast cancer and was in recovery.

Regina was a person on the cutting edge of most movements. Every Sunday she would go to the Art Institute on Michigan Ave in Chicago and carry a picket sign—for anything and everything—against poverty, the Iraq War, Bush; Death Penalty ; etc. etc.

This past spring Sister Regina became very ill. She wrote personally to Barack. She got a very nice note back signed by Barack and Michelle Obama. Regina made many of the pictures for her friends. She tried her hardest to live to vote for Barack—she died about 6 weeks ago.

Thus the picture.

Regina was one of a kind.”

So tomorrow as you take to the streets to vote or canvas, as you get yourself to work, and see those around you holding signs, many for the first time, think about participation. Some folks, like Sister Regina standing on Michigan Avenue in Chicago, have been at this for a long time. Others will begin tomorrow. Perhaps inspired by Obama. Because behind the rhetoric and the hype, he represents something that more than ever before is now a possibility. Your voice.

What do you want to say?


As a postscript to this post, I just received the latest Obama video. It couldn’t be more appropriate for my message above. Check it out here. Then ladies, men, children… lace up your skates, and head out on the rink. Sure, it will be slippery. If you fall your butt might get a little wet on those spots the Zamboni just passed over. But there will be guard rails, and your teammates, to help you along.

Take your shot at the goal – vote Obama!

– Colleen, mother of three in Boulder, Colorado who thinks it would be the highest compliment ever to be described as “being at the front of most movements.”


Reason #4: The Rest of the World is Voting Obama!

November 1, 2008

There is a lot of discussion outside of the United States about this election. You read the post from a friend having dinner with people from Spain, Uruguay, and Canada. You read Dona Otilia’s poem to Obama.

Here are some other links revealing how Obama is perceived outside of our borders. Pretty impressive.

– the Global Electoral College

– cast your vote along with folks around the globe, or just jump to the results

– check out the 4-to-1 margin of Obama’s victory in opinion polls in other countries

– see the countries most aligned with Obama

– or just listen to the music Obama is inspiring by musicians around the world from…Japan (a catchy tune called Obama is Beautiful World that will stick with you, longer than you want, by a Japanese band who is rallying the CITY of Obama, waving their arms, and dancing YMCA-style), as well as a host of other countries (Trinidad, Cameroon, Mexico, Jamaica)

You get the picture. As Obama says about other things, “you can’t make this stuff up.”

People are psyched.

So feel proud that you are in the same rink, so to speak, as THE REST OF THE WORLD.

Vote Obama in 3 days!

– Colleen, mother of three in Boulder, Colorado, who is thrilled at the possibility of not having to cringe when she says she’s a U.S. American when traveling internationally

Reason #6: Social Responsibility Isn’t Socialism

October 30, 2008

While I’ve written a bit on this before, I just have to return to the idea of wealth. Who has it and wants to keep it, who doesn’t have it and wants to taste just a morsel of the pie of life.

Perhaps it is the minivan I see almost daily at my daughter’s school that has a large “No Socialism, Vote McCain” painted on it by hand.

Perhaps I’m thinking about this a lot because last night I was subjected to the latest Palin ranting, “Barack Obama is going to redistribute your wealth.” Then, of course, she linked this redistribution to taxes (click here for a nice break-down of the two candidates’ positions, complete with a cast of characters).

Whatever the reason, this wealth redistribution stuff, which is being uttered a lot in the waning days of the campaign, strikes me as offensive on many, many levels. However, let’s just examine two points:

1. This doesn’t make sense! All of these claims of socialism and redistribution are sensationalistic ploys. As Obama has said, time and time again, he defines “wealthy” as those making $250,000 or more per year. So do I. I just firmly believe that those who are doing pretty well financially, who can make their mortgage payments and have food on the table every night, have a social and moral responsibility to help out those who aren’t in this state. I have had countless advantages in life – a stable family, a great education, good physical and mental health, and a solid support network of friends, to mention just a few – and I’m not making $250,000 per year even with these advantages! Imagine those who haven’t had the half of this.

Its just a big lottery of life, and we need to take care of those who didn’t get the lucky numbers. That’s why Obama’s idea of wealth and taxes, which would work toward closing the gap between the haves and the have nots, doesn’t offend me or incite fear as it does in the Republician ticket. It’s the socially responsible thing to do.

2. This brings me to my second point – the recent comments about “wealth distribution” really irk me on creepier, more insidious level. This is because it seems that McCain and Palin are trying to shift our value system as a society. It appears they are trying to strip us of our empathy towards others.

I’m not the only one with this view. Here are a few takes on that line you’ve probably heard about how a society will be judged by how it treats its poor…

From Confucius:
In a country well governed poverty is something to be ashamed of.
In a country badly governed wealth is something to be ashamed of.
From James Baldwin (an African American writer):
Anyone who has struggled with poverty knows how extremely expensive it is to be poor.
From Jean-Paul Sartre:
When the rich wage war it is the poor who die.

And, one of my favorite’s from that little powerhouse of a nun, Mother Teresa:

At the end of our lives, we will not be judged by how many diplomas we have received, how much money we have made, or how many great things we have done. We will be judged by ‘I was hungry and you gave me to eat. I was naked and you clothed me. I was homeless and you took me in.’

Herein lies what really scares me about the position the Republicans are taking toward wealth – they can’t picture themselves as hungry, naked, or homeless. Even today, in an economic crisis that is scaring the bejezus out of many folks, they insist that we don’t need to consider those less fortunate. And that, to me, just seems wrong.

– Colleen, mother of three from Boulder, Colorado, who hopes she can become proud of how our country treats those occupying the lowest rungs of the economic totem pole.

Reason #9: He’s Even Better Live…

October 27, 2008

It’s one thing to watch Obama speak on TV or read his words in articles and blogs. It’s quite another to see him in person.

My friend Alicia has connections, so we were admitted into the small grassy plot immediately in front of the podium in Denver’s Civic Center Park Sunday morning. Obama has a relaxed yet commanding presence, even standing in front of a crowd of over 100,000 people that stretched all the way up the capitol steps on the other side of the park.

First of all, his occasional jokes add levity to the grave concern we all feel about this election, rather than contribute to the hail of lowbrow insults being lobbed by the McCain camp. He said, “McCain even called me a socialist, and then he claimed that my economic policies were just like George Bush’s…. seriously, you can’t make this stuff up!” Then he neatly segued, “Well, I can put up with nine more days of attacks from the McCain campaign, but you can’t afford to put up with four more years of failed policies.”

Secondly, Obama’s skill as a teacher lends a unique element to his speeches. This is what I want, indeed crave, in a president. I want an intelligent president who is knowledgeable enough on the issues to actually be able to explain what they mean–as Clinton was able to do–rather than fill speech lines with bluster and obfuscation–as you-know-who is only capable of doing.

I also greatly appreciate his acknowledgment that government policy cannot succeed in making the changes to education and health care that the country needs, but that individuals must be responsible and do their own part. This sense of a national community working together toward collective goals and holding the government accountable inspired what I thought was his best line of the day: “We need to rebuild our economy from the bottom up, not wait for it to be done from the top down.”

And finally, Obama’s appeal to think beyond ourselves to the next generations moved me to tears (OK, I am a bit hormonal right now…). It was something about the way he talked about parents who sacrifice so their children can go to college, and how they shouldn’t have to choose between paying their monthly bills and paying for their children’s healthcare. Even though my grandmother went to university, after the death of my grandfather in WWII she worked two jobs as a single mother of three throughout the 1950s, 60s, 70s and 80s. She was always a model of frugality and generosity to me, and the thought of her then made me feel proud.

There was also that undercurrent at the rally that made me feel linked to those around me in witnessing an historic moment and silently promising to think about things in a new way. Being pregnant, I was tempted to chalk it up those hormones I previously alluded to, but I welcomed these emotions–what else inspires us to do better by our fellow human beings in the short lives we live?

Oh, and one more thing: When Obama first began his speech and the crowd started chanting, “Yes we can!” Obama immediately added, “Si se puede!” Music to the ears of Colorado Latinos, labor unions and workers (who were out in force publicizing their opinion on the ballot initiatives), and those of us who work in Latin America–a tribute to the late great Cesar Chavez who fought for the democratic rights of all workers and all people.


– Carol C., soon-to-be mother who lives in Boulder but imagines herself more a part of the global community than just a US citizen.

Reason #13: Dinosaurs, God, and Science in Schools

October 23, 2008

Our nation is going down. Down in science. The puck is whizzing past us while we stand around with our sticks in the air. It’s ugly.

McCain is supposedly “waffling” on whether Creationism (and/or Intelligent Design, which, per Molly our scientist here , is “equally problematic, just wrapped up in a little cloak”) and Evolution should be taught, side by side, in our schools (though he has certainly come out strong for Creationism in the past). And we all know where Palin stands on this issue. How can you “waffle” on this?

Here are a few reasons we view “waffling” as problematic:

1. There is a significant difference between McCain and Obama on this issue. One guy doesn’t know what he thinks. The other believes that Creationism has no place in our schools. Obama states, “I think it’s a mistake to try to cloud the teaching of science with theories that frankly don’t hold up to scientific inquiry.”

The question is whether or not Creationism/Intelligent Design should be treated as an equal to Evolution. Science is driven by hypotheses. Creationism and Intelligent Design are devoid of hypotheses. Evolution, on the other hand, has a number of hypotheses that have been tested – through time – by numerous scientists.

Can you believe we have Presidential candidates who actually want to introduce “non-science” in the classroom. Oh yeah, global warming isn’t really happening anyway, right?!!

This is not only sad for the future of science, but sad for our children. Those little hockey playing buggers. What are we teaching them – that critical thought doesn’t matter?!

2. This approach is dangerous – perilous even – as our country slips behind in the standings in science. We’re behind Europe and Asia. Science and technology have had a place in our country for a long time. Think model T. Think of the computer. Think of that very essential element in any hockey game – the Zamboni. If this trend continues, we won’t be making new Zambonis in this country. We’ll be depending on inventors from elsewhere.

3. Furthermore, this approach to science – giving religion a place in our schools – completely denies the separation of church and state, which requires that the government not endorse one religion over another, or religion over non-religion. Certainly, we can all believe what we’d like, but teaching religion in the schools isolates some beliefs while embracing others.

So challenge your kids to reach new levels of science. Vote Obama.

– Molly, an evolutionary biologist who always wanted to ride atop a Zamboni and is fired up about the dismal decline of science in our country, and Colleen, who didn’t do so well in her science classes but does understand that humans didn’t have pet dinosaurs

Reason #15: He’s got his Priorities in Order

October 21, 2008

Over the past several weeks we’ve talked about the policies, ethics, and approach Obama will bring to government.

But today I’m here to talk about the person, the regular guy who just decided to take a couple of days off to head to Hawaii to see his ailing grandmother, Madelyn Payne Dunham, or “Toot” as she is known by her grandchildren. In my opinion, this proves more than anything about Obama. He’s in touch with what is “real” in life, he’s got his priorities in order.

When I got married 11 years ago the Bishop who married us, a very wise soul, had one message for my husband and me: “Know the main thing, and keep the main thing the main thing.”

As Obama nears the end of his presidential campaign and voting day approaches, I applaud him for knowing the main thing – the importance of his family – and for keeping the main thing the main thing by going to Hawaii at this critical time in his grandmother’s life. He knows he has less than two weeks until election day. But he made a choice to put it on hold for something even more important, for a chance to talk with and hug his grandmother. Political debate will be here in a few days. She might not be.

Keeping our priorities straight amidst the chatter and outright chaos of daily life –  not to mention in a race for what is arguably one of the most important and influential positions in the world today – is hard, at best. For many, it is downright impossible.

But the joy of watching our kids gets us through long hockey games in cold winter weather. The comfort of our family’s presence welcomes us home after hard days at work when we return bone tired. The warmth of our childrens’ hugs carries us through the night, until we rise in the morning to start it all over again.

Obama knows this.

And he also knows how important this visit is. Perhaps this will be the most important visit he’ll make in these long months of campaigning, a moment to stop, keep the main thing the main thing, and recognize the importance of a woman who profoundly influenced his life (and who blazed some trails in her own right!).

So kudos to Obama, as well as to the strong grandmother who helped shape who he is today.

As we grow tired of the months and months of debates and political rhetoric and eagerly await November 4th, give your kids a hug, take some time to head to a park or pumpkin patch, have a glass of wine with your spouse, and then return with your spirit intact to campaign for Obama.

And above all… know the main thing, and keep the main thing the main thing.

– Colleen, mother of three in Boulder, Colorado who savors her family time even more than a bar of fine, dark chocolate or a nice glass of Malbec.

Reason #17: ‘Cause He’s Inspiring Community Activists from Other Hemispheres

October 19, 2008

We all know the conservatives have been railing against the value of community organizing and activism and Obama’s experience in this camp. See “Reason #22,” ‘nuf said.

But Obama’s experiences and perspectives have been inspiring folks around the world in amazing ways.

On a trip to Brazil this past summer I was approached by a 77 year old community activist living from Bahia. When she realized I was from the United States, she gave me a special task: to get a poem she wrote for Barack Obama to him.

Can any of us imagine taking the time and thought to write an 8 page poem to Brazil’s president, Lula? Probably not.

And that’s the power Obama brings to this election. People from around the world – more than ever – are feeling the same hope that inspires us here.

So today I present not my words, but the poem of Dona Otilia. She’s speaks from her heart, and gives us a glimpse of the global power of Obama. Read on. And vote Obama… for Dona Otilia.

Since age 12 Dona Otilia  Nogueira has advocated for the rights of women, indigenous peoples, quilombolas (Afro-Brazilian slave descendents), family farmers, and other underrepresented and oppressed groups in Bahia. Her poem to Barack Obama is translated from Portuguese to English.

I ask your apologies
For my enormous boldness
To be from another continent
To live in another nation
But with the greatest humility
Hearing all of the reports
I took up my pen
And wrote in prose and verse
To pay homage to a man
Who arose among millions
With good proposals and actions
Determination and love
Tenacity and modesty
To win against discrimination

I am proud of the black race
With a large love and admiration
And also of the Indians
I am a descendent of these two
And for this I have suffered much
I had no way to study
In a country with much discrimination
Living the need to fill
To cultivate the land
And by this land I was sustained
But I had faith in God and courage
To confront prejudice
So I see the world in another manner
All that passes is not a mirage

I live in a country without terror
The worst thing here are the drugs
Here there are no volcanos
Some small earthquakes
We don’t have cyclones or tidal waves
In the south of the country some small
Hurricanes are growing
The robber here walks free
Which is terrible
Because the world is this way
We have high levels of criminality
We have a lot of work to do in this area
For people to learn
Because we don’t lack conflict

We have an excellent government
Our dear Lula
Who ascended the ramp of the Planalto
Remembering the least favored
He is a great man
In this way he diminished hunger
And is going to diminish violence
He is improving education
Investing in culture
Inspiring sports
For this I am happy
I am living in a paradise
The pride of my country

I’ve seen many reports
Coming from North America
I know that inequality is great
And prejudice is strong
But you are brought from God
You have conquered the masses
We are certain of your victory
I know that you’re going to help your race
They have as much suffering as we do
With the disposition to conquer
To have a Black man in power
Is the glory of the future
Better days are going to come
And we’re going to thank God

Obama, you are a child of God
I see the world helping your nation
Against the viruses contaminating the world
You are dedicated to fighting
I know that you are going to do away with problems
With your valiant determination
To fight against pollution and terror
Emitting gasses without limit
Contaminating the world
Without our rulers feeling them
They don’t stop polluting
From one side terror reigns
And from the other, pollution pressures
If it doesn’t stop, the earth is going to explode

Global warming is the fruit
Of much pollution
We need to reforest the world
To have less hydraulic pollution
To stop burning and fires
The earth has its limit
Listen to what I’m going to write
Rulers aren’t worried
They only think in nuclear energy
Without light they live without seeing pollution
Or feign that they don’t understand
They live without a plan
Only living to earn money
With the world destroyed, where will they spend it?

But since you are going to light up the world
I am writing this to you
I know that you are going to shine on the two continents
That you are going to help our Lula succeed
Lula will shine in the South
And you will shine in the North
United, you will be strong
Holding the hand of God
To stop this hurtful war
For a world with so much but still lacks bread
Where children cry tears of hunger
In the hope of a little food
Seeing their parents lose their lives
Losing relatives, friends, and homes.

When I see you on the television
I am filled with hope
I can’t know you personally
Because the distance is great
I am poor and have no way to reach you
But through a friend
Who is very dear to me
I know that this will arrive in your hands
And that you’ll understand
How much we admire you
And also our worry
About this brutal and wrong system
Where all live suffocating
From so much pollution.

Barack Obama go forward
Life has chosen you with love
It has given you this great mission
With angels on high
Holding your hands
Preparing your country
As a leader of the world
And the world is going to vibrate
With your brilliant ideas
You’ll dialogue in the United Nations
Your proposals will have consistency
With strength that isn’t dictatorial
You are like a bird spreading good ideas
Through your dialogue and composure

God and the people are with you
Go forth and don’t look back
Fly on the horizon
Because you are capable
And the world needs you
Saints and angels will help you
We are very worried
About terror and pollution
That suffocates the whole world
Though here we have less of this
We are worried for our brothers
The worst here are the capital cities
The rest of the country lives in peace

I live in Itacare, Bahia
A small town encircled by forest
With more than 50 waterways and rivers
Many waterfalls and cascades
The sixth corridor of the planet
With abundant fauna
The beaches are famous
Covered with forest and clear water
With little pollution
The greatest biodiversity of the world
I invite you to visit
This splendid beauty
Created by mother nature
I know that you will like it here.

I am not dictating anything
But merely expressing my worry
I am an old country woman
Who lacks a good education
But I see that you have a future
You are going to weigh anchor of the boat of Victory
Don’t worry about the darkness of night
The day is going to shine like a ray of light on the horizon
Illuminating your path
Always in the arms of the people
Fly on an ocean that is calm and serene
Give your cry of peace and love
For you have protection
Who is holding your hand
Is certainly Jesus of Nazareth

Obama, God inspired you
As he has inspired my children
My people, country, and forests
For the truth won’t lose its brilliance
Through your humble and profound gestures
A smile that conquers the world
I wish you all the best
You are a young hero
I know that you will say no to war
You will bring peace to your land
For people believe in you
Like the iris waits for light
We wait for Jesus
To see you in power

The angels on high
Are uniting to fight
For the people of Iraq
Who are crying out
With a terrible terror
With so much blood lost
Death everywhere
We feel it in our souls
And we can’t complain
Because our country is another
May God protect your daughters
And illuminate your people
That, united, you will change the world
And help your family.

Obama, I take leave
Pardon me for my audacity
I am inspired here in the forest
And don’t participate in your daily life
I am inspired by flowers in bloom
By the sweet taste of literature
By hearing the songs of birds
And seeing the purity of flowers
The magnitude of President Lula
Are fonts of inspiration
Steps toward peace and love
Hear my greetings
Accept an embrace and your brothers and sisters
And the reverence we owe to God on high.

Dona Otilia Maria Nogueira
Vila Marambaia
Itacare, Bahia, Brasil

– Colleen, a mother of three in Boulder who is quite active, but not such a good poet

Reason #20: Of Plumbers, Wealth, and Government

October 17, 2008

The other day a friend mentioned a conversation he had just had with his father. In a moment of somewhat spirited debate between them his dad sputtered out, “Well, If Obama was in office now, all of our money will be going to the poor people!”


What struck me about this comment was the visceral fear it unmasked. People are scared. They’re scared that “the government” will take their hard earned money, like a caped guy with RH on the back, coming in the dark of night. They’re scared that capitalism will turn into socialism.

Most of all, they’re scared that the American Dream – work hard and you’ll be duly rewarded – will sail away from them to some other promised shore.

Then, last night, we met Joe the Plumber. Perhaps he is cousin to Joe Six-Pack?

Joe is scared too, like my friend’s dad. His fear is even paralyzing him from deciding who to vote for this election. The problem, however, is that Joe is supposed to represent the “every-person” of this election. Your neighbors. Yourselves. We are supposed to identify with him because (a) his name is “Joe,” and (b) he’s a plumber. Not a lawyer or a banker or a doctor, but a regular guy (apparently, most of us have an antiquated view of plumbers…).

And of course, Joe is a man.  I wonder if John McCain would’ve put air quotes around Joe’s “health?”

But let’s just think about Joe’s hard earned wealth for a moment.

First off, as we’ve mentioned before, definitions of what is rich differ vastly. As we know, for Obama wealth is defined as earning more than $250,000 per year. McCain puts it at $5,000,000 per year (no, no, the zero key on my computer didn’t get stuck).

So yes, by Obama’s definition Joe, our dear plumber, is kind of a wealthy guy if he truly does earn more than $250,000 per year as a plumber (is anyone else predicting that there will be a run on applications for plumbing trade school this coming year?). And I’d suspect most of us would agree that $250,000 a year doing pretty well. As another friend said recently, if you’re making this much, why wouldn’t you want to spread it around a little?

Well folks (said in my best Palin accent), I’m urging you to pause amidst these debates on Joe and wealth to remember the reason we’re so fired up about this election. The point of this whole process is to decide what YOU want your government, and your money, to stand for.

Behind “the government” loom real people with real ideals, values, and, dare I say, even some expertise (I know, I know, despite the jokes about “government workers” and “good enough for government work”!)? As Bill Maher said on Larry King Live tonight when discrediting Palin’s qualifications for the Vice Presidency, it used to be that “you had to know things to be in the government!”

I encourage you to pause for a brief moment and reflect on what your ideal government would look like. This election is our chance to move, a little bit more, in this direction.

Think about who’s ideals and values and integrity you’re most aligned with.

Then think about privilege.

Think about whether, if you arrived at the $250,000 annual salary, perhaps it was because you landed on one of those squares in life that came with certain – random – privileges like class, race, education, upbringing, geography.

Then think about those “poor people” that my friend’s father is scared of. Is it just possible that they landed on another square in the game of life?

Is it even possible that we can have other definitions of what makes a person wealthy? Things like education, health…even service to others.

So as you lie down tonight, ponder the meaning of government. And dream about what makes you rich. I’m betting its about much more than money.

– Colleen, mother of three in Boulder who is rich in family and friends.

Reason #22: The Rest of the World!

October 14, 2008

Our friends around the world are counting on us…we can’t let them down!

Last week I had the good fortune to enjoy a casual dinner and great conversation with an international group of people.  Of course, the conversation turned to the American election and here’s a glimpse of what our international friends said:

A Canadian:  It’s hard for Canadians because everyone thinks you’re American when you travel abroad.  Many people are hostile toward us who weren’t before.  It’s sad.

A Uruguayan: It’s so important for America to be the leader in the world, to set the standard for reason and democracy.  The view of America isn’t that way anymore.  I think Obama might get that back.

A Spaniard: If the world were voting, there would be no question.  McCain wouldn’t get a single vote.

Another Canadian: In Canada, the difference between our parties isn’t as great as between America’s parties.  America’s conservatives are so much more conservative than ours.  We just don’t seem to have such extreme views as your Republican party.

A third Canadian: The issues you have to worry about in your American election are so scary.  When we vote in Canada, we aren’t thinking, “which of these people is going to get us into another war.”

So folks, it goes beyond the borders of our country, way beyond. And here are a few sites you can check out for opinions on how an Obama administration would be viewed by the rest of the world:

On global economics…

On how some Americans abroad perceive this election…

On the environment…

– Ann, a mother of two who manages to live in the Colorado mountains and still chat with citizens of the world!

Reason #23: Because Community Organizing IS Relevant

October 13, 2008

Community and organizing are not dirty embarrassing words to be mocked – as Rudy Giuliani and Sarah Palin did at the RNC with cocky giggles – as if somehow being a champion for social justice is a detriment for Obama.

Giuliani said, “Community Organizing is the first problem on Obama’s resume.”

It’s, in fact, the very gold on his resume.

Consensus building, empowering disenfranchised populations, brokering equality, and practicing inclusiveness – these are the polished jewels that reveal Obama’s leadership proficiency, and where his presidential policies will converge.

In a similar jab, Palin contorted her face and chirped, “I guess a small-town mayor is sort of like a community organizer…..except that you have actual responsibilities.”

Apparently, Giuliani and Palin do not recall our history steeped in struggle – those pesky community organizers of our past that accomplished the unthinkable.

“If there is no struggle, there is no progress,” said Frederick Douglass.

A band of Colonists dumping tea in Boston Harbor, Elizabeth Cady Stanton launching the women’s movement from her living room. Frail and soft-spoken Gandhi leading the Indian Independence Movement – often from prison or his fasting bed. Helen Keller seeing the light in the labor movement, Martin Luther King, Jr demanding civil rights. Oh, and that one guy….Jesus – he was a community organizer!

These are my heroes. Sages that began on the small stage in the backyard speaking truth.

Finally, we’ll have a president that really cares about social justice. A president that in a silent but salient way has ALREADY worked to reform schools, convert black churches into agents of social change, empower neighborhoods, remove asbestos, and register voters (which helped Carol Moseley Braun become the first black woman ever elected to the Senate.)

Obama’s roots in community organizing disclose not only his mission of justice, but also his vision of politics. In 1995 Obama asked “What if a politician were to see his job as that of an organizer, as part teacher and part advocate, one who does not sell voters short, but who educates them about the real choices before them?”

Michelle Obama told a reporter in 1996, “Barack is not a politician first and foremost. He’s a community activist exploring the viability of politics to make change.”

Community Organizing is synonymous with America and our lineage of grassroots change, civil disobedience, protest, social action, and justice for all. Doesn’t  “Government of the people, by the people, for the people” sound presidential?”  Lincoln thought so.

While the critics of community organizing may see it as a silly little hobby or bleeding heart volunteerism, its legacy should be among our proudest – and is exactly what our country now needs most. Thankfully, Obama will soon organize not only the community of America, but also the world.

– Brook, mother, business owner, and patriot of progress!, Boulder, Colorado