A New Beginning (Building Bridges)

Watching the Inauguration was fun. While it was on there was an ongoing conversation on Jeremy Gloff's Facebook page that started with some cracks on The Queen Of Soul (who should be recrowned The Hamhock Of Soul) for looking like a Greenpeace cause, spun off into a hilarious real-time conversation, and ended with a couple of new friends. For an exiled ex-pat it was the party back home that I needed. Thank you Jeremy for being the host and letting me wisecrack all over your page. I hope I didn't wear out my welcome. More importantly though, I watched the last three presidents as the camera rolled over them and noticed they all looked sick, old and unhealthy as if their time had come to an end. Obama was a vision of fresh energy in contrast. That was when it dawned on me- this is the REAL beginning of the 21st Century. The seasons have their own rhythms- there is no official "first day of spring", that's our clock-time that we superimpose over the natural rhythms of the world. Just the same, eras have their own natural rhythms. Neither January 1st, 2000 nor January 1st, 2001 was the beginning of the 21st Century. Again, that's our measurements superimposed upon natural rhythms. The Inauguration was the REAL beginning of the 21st Century. The last 8 years were the end of the 20th Century, when all the worst qualities of 20th Century America and its government came to a head and exploded in public. Everything that had been buried behind closed doors became public knowledge. We became a nation bitterly divided and those of us with overseas ties fled the country in self-imposed exile. Yesterday, however, was the beginning of a new era. Obama's speech was excellent, as expected. He spoke in clear, plain language about what _we_ as a country need to do to rebuild and touched on all the points involved including quite a few that appeal to the Right such as hard work and selfless service. He delivered his speech in the captivating and uplifting style of black churches across America- grabbing the audience's attention, reeling them in, bringing the intensity to a simmer, and then "taking it home". Time and again he reiterated that each one of us is responsible for cleaning up this mess and putting the pieces back together. That means ALL of us cooperating with each other, ALL of us building bridges across the divide. The sort of solution offered in Eric Lu & Nick Hanauer' THE TRUE PATRIOT, a book that should be read by Liberals and Conservatives alike. During recent Blogs I've engaged people on the other side of the political spectrum from me for two reasons. First is that if you only talk to people on your side you only get one side of the story, i.e. circular reasoning. When discussing with the opposing side you have to prove your point. If you're argument holds water you will, if it doesn't you'll learn something new. Therefore you win either way. Second is, during the election I admired both candidates' speeches which put the emphasis on "we the People" and everybody cooperating together as a unified nation. Obama's acceptance speech centered on the UNITED States of America rather than Liberal/Conservative America, Red/Blue states, etc... McCain's campaign slogan was "Country First" and I would have considered him had he not brought along that brainless, wolf-slaughtering Barbie doll Palin. Paris Hilton had a better campaign speech (I'll dig up the link if anyone's interested). In the spirit of both candidates' noble speeches I took it upon myself to do my part in bridging the divide and deliberately looked at the people that I usually crack on - the conservative religious Right- and asked myself what I admire about them. I strongly suggest that all of you do the same. One thing is all you need, you don't have to agree on everything and you won't, but that one thing _will_ build bridges of understanding. The nation has been bitterly divided for too long. Surprisingly, when I asked myself that question I found a simple easy answer- manners! The American public has become very selfish, childish and irresponsible. People have lost all sense of courtesy, dignity and respect. They've become shallow. What happened to the Golden Rule, "do unto others as you would have them do unto you"? What happened to being considerate of others and treating them the way you want to be treated? And what the happened to taking responsibility for yourself? Where the fuck did all this buck-passing come from???!!! "I can't work because my mother traumatized me when I was three." What abunch of spineless drivel! The religious conservative Right are some of the few people who still practice manners and courtesy so to my Right-leaning friends I want you all to know that I am with you on this one, you have my full support. We'll probably continue to disagree on a lot of other points but let's save that for another day. We have a long road ahead of us. I encourage everybody on both sides to do the same, find that one thing that you agree with the other side on. One is not too much to ask. I've done it, you can too. The real work starts with us and the bridges start there. In closing there was one other thing that stuck in my mind during the Inauguration about this being the real beginning of the 21st Century. When they showed the crowd, the newer buildings reminded me of Theed (the capital of Naboo in STAR WARS). And being a comic collector (especially underground stuff) I have to admit that seeing the first black president reminded me of CAMELOT 3000, a 12-issue limited series that came out when I was a kid. Anybody who remembers it will get the connection. Besides, I'm biased, I'm _glad_ we finally got some "pepper" in the White House. We need it!