Tag Archive: hope


What sways me as a liberal is my love of this country’s diversity and at the root, the voice and will of the people.  This is the first election in my life-history, where I’ve felt good about voting for my candidate. Barack Obama is a good man.  I’ve followed his career now since I was in college and am as inspired today by his good works and actions as I was the day I first heard Obama deliver a speech.  I’ll never forget that moment- I told everyone around me, “This guy is going to be our president someday.”  He lit up the room with his charisma.  

And yes, it does take more than charisma to run a country, so I looked into Barack’s record at the time and was impressed by his work as a community leader.  I knew it was a long chance he’d ever make it this far, but through strength, integrity and determination, Barack Obama is now running for president of the United States.  And for the first time, I’m more than a little proud to voice my support for him.  

Now for the whys:  Obama believes in the spirit of community.  He believes in fostering an environment where young people find a voice and through volunteer opportunities take a stake in their own community and country.   In exchange for their time and efforts, Obama is proposing we offer grants to help offset the cost of tuition, so these same young people have an opportunity to continue with their education.  

Building a strong community is at the heart of all efforts.  Imagine a Hurricane Katrina event after such a program has been implemented.  We might see thousands of people willing and capable of rescue, building shelter, organizing food and medical care and just providing a sense of hope for those devastated by the hurricane.  

Obama isn’t playing the same party-politics.  He’s not your ordinary politician, he’s always first a fellow citizen.  He won’t play those games – he’s a better person than that.  Instead, he’ll breathe new life into his message and continue through November stronger than ever knowing he has been through harder times than this before and with Barack Obama, we know he’ll only work harder at finding solutions; he’ll struggle with us until this economy is once again balanced; he’ll continue to bring hope to all people that in times of need “There are no red states or blue states:  There is the United States of America.”

I made the mistake of reading the news yesterday.  The article on the genocide in Bosnia did not sit well with me as it should not with anyone.  I emailed some aide organizations to see what they were doing to help families in the former Yugoslavia, but have not heard back.  So, I emailed my cousin – a man who has travelled the broken country, speaks the languages and knows our history.  I asked him how it affects him to hear of the violence that occurred in the early 90s and of the tensions still present today.  He wrote that his teaching position was cancelled when the war broke out and he watched on CNN as the Yugoslav army rolled into Dubrovnik and began shelling – He described this moment as “one of the most painful and sorrowful” days of his life.  

I’ve never been to the region (I’ve never even been overseas) and yet, I feel ties to the country.  I hear in their voices my own grandfather’s accent.  The same man who sat beside me once and ate an entire apple; core and all.  When I asked him why he ate the whole apple, he just smiled and in his smile I recognized, even as a child, something older; a feeling more primitive than anything I had experienced in my young life.  His smile was a veil protecting me from ever knowing hunger.  “I hope you will never understand,” he said.  

Though I knew him only briefly, when my grandfather spoke, I clung to the rich sounds of every word.  He called me “Samantrah.”  I felt like a princess the way he said my name.  

So my dear cousin who, after hearing the above, refers to me now as Lady Sam, reminded me this last email, that the pain suffered in our homeland is very real.  That the crimes are severe and atrocious and appear at once unforgivable.  But he also reminded me that for the most part, “people are good and kind, if ignorant and unpolished.”  He also used the word “plemenit,” the Croatian word meaning generous, noble, gentle, refined.   It’s a word that means chivalry – a good-natured kind of word encompassing those solid traits to which we may all aspire.  

We may feel helpless thousands of miles away from a land where our ancestors learned the meaning of this word, but we do not need to abandon hope.  For the lesson my cousin learned in all of this was that we are not helpless.  We can continue to draw from our lineage – from those lessons carried on through generations of tolerance, patience, forgiveness, and peaceful resolutions.  We can make a more peaceful homeland right here wherever we are just as our ancestors would have done.

Today and everyday please battle the unconscionable acts of this world with acts of kindness and tolerance to others.

Obama and Clinton

We plugged in the television last night and sat back for an evening of politics and politico on CNN.  As they announced Obama had clinched the nomination, the CNN panned to a video taken at a bar just down the street in our very excited city- where crowds of people cheered and celebrated the long-awaited end to a hotly contested primary.  I think a lot of people felt both elation and a hint of sadness knowing one of our incredible candidates would not be nominated.  And yet, Clinton gave little indication she was willing to concede despite the numbers.  In fact, she acted as if she was this country’s last hope (to paraphrase).  

That was a huge disappointment to me.  I expected more from such a well-respected leader.  I anticipated the same kind of speech given by Obama – one that accentuated the dedication of all this season’s candidates; a speech that might unify the party and the country.  Instead, Clinton seemed unwilling to accept she did not win the nomination and rather than asking her supporters to stand with Obama, her words were often divisive.   

I am proud of this country for throwing such enormous support behind both candidates regardless of race or gender.  I’m thrilled to feel such excitement over a primary!  What a feat for the Democratic party to not only have one remarkable candidate who beat the odds: We had two!  

So regardless of what happens the rest of the week with the Clinton-Obama struggle, I’m proud today to be an American.  And for the first time in my adult life, I believe the old wounds of this nation will be healed with the kind of unifying spirit Obama has brought to the ticket. 

 

We are one people

I love this speech: We are one people.

The traffic congestion along Independence is thick at rush hour and we were already running late.  I knew this event was important to Popo; the look she gave me when I said I was too tired to fight traffic in 80-degree weather was enough for Erick to volunteer to drive us.  With traffic stopped, I looked back at my oldest daughter and said apologetically, “I’m sorry, I think we’ve missed most of the speech, Honey, we’re going to have to turn around.”  What I didn’t know was that we weren’t the only people running late on the way to the Barack Obama rally this afternoon.  

As traffic idled in the heat a siren grew louder coming up behind us.  We watched as a slow procession of police cars and unmarked SUVs snaked its way past our truck.  “Here he comes!” Erick said excitedly.  I waved and whistled and suddenly being stuck in traffic didn’t seem so bad.

Unfortunately I was so excited I forgot about the camera in my lap, so this photo was taken as one of the last police cars passed.  

Popo and I arrived just minutes after Obama and found ourselves standing amid a crowd far larger than the Clinton rally and with noticeable decibel differences.  The sound erupting from the crowd as Obama entered the room was overwhelming.  This wasn’t just a candidate, this was our hero.  This was a man who came from meager beginnings to run for office of President of the United States.  

Popo brought her hand-made sign saying simply:  I love you OBAMA.  I didn’t teach her to choose one candidate over the others.  I’m not the kind of person who tells my children what to think about political candidates.  Instead, I’ve educated them.  I took them to Clinton’s rally*, but the difference between the two candidates, even from my perspective, was incredibly noticeable.  Clinton’s crowd was interested in seeing her, but there wasn’t the same feeling of enthusiasm; the connection Obama makes with individual voters.  He doesn’t just spill political rhetoric, he identifies with real problems and offers innovative solutions.  He’s proposing a plan that allows students to earn $4000 toward college tuition in exchange for military or volunteer services.  If you sign up to help adults learn to read, or assist at a shelter, you will receive money for college.  As Obama put it, “If you invest in America, America will invest in you.”

Amid criticism over his former pastor, Obama told the crowd about his grand-father who fought in WWII. He went on to explain that his grandfather received money for college as part of the GI bill.  Later, his grandparents were able to buy a home with an affordable FHA loan.  His own mother, a single mother, was able to go back to school and Obama received scholarships and federal aid affording him the opportunity to get a quality education.  “People question my patriotism?  I owe our country everything!”  As he said this, my eyes brimmed with tears.  So impassioned were his words, “I love our country!”   It’s been a while since I’ve felt patriotism myself, but the truth is, I love what this country could become again and when I hear Obama speak, I truly feel my hope restored.   [And while we were at the speech, Erick was out voting.]

Notice the news media writing as Obama speaks?  The photographers were uploading photos to these laptops and Popo and I watched as they updated live continually throughout the speech.  Pretty cool.  I wondered how many of these guys were bloggers. 

*John McCain has not made a recent stop to Charlotte.  

 

I’ve had to change course a few times in the last few years. First, with cancer, and recently with Erick’s new position with Cardinal. I started a farm-project for education purposes, but soon I will be living in a hugely biodiverse region with a large peramculture network neatly and conveniently threaded already into the culture. I’ll also be near two- and four-year universities where I might pursue a degree in Horticulture. In the meantime, the experiences are translating into interesting chapters not only for my book, but also in writing the pages of a fulfilling life.

This weekend some friends I hadn’t seen in a while and some friends I’ve made more recently got together. I listened as they talked about stories that we had made together or I had shared and it helped me realize, that even in those times when I was being an absolute f*ck-*p, I was experiencing a part of life I now know with certainty has enormous value. I was on an extended adventure and what I lacked in collegiate education, I made up for in life experience. And now I’m able to appreciate both.

We did some exploring this week at the Old State Hospital and it revived in some of us, that feeling of adventure; in pressing boundaries just a little; in hoping for something magical awaited just around the next corner, behind the next door or within each of us. And we discovered the adventure, no matter how small or seemingly insignificant relative to the rest of our lives, was made special because we were in it together; we were supporting each other and the collective adventurous experience. In essence, we let our inner-children come out to play.

In pursuing a career for myself, I’ve nourished my strengths and realized some of the weaknesses that have held me back. My current goals include returning to schools, feeling good about Imperfectly Yours, finding a way to continue Healing Tree, and discovering a tree under which I can contemplate these and other goals/thoughts in the future. Have you ever noticed the beautiful form a tree holds; arms stretched upward in constant praise of the energy off which it feeds? The tree reminds me to celebrate each day, to stand in peace, with integrity. It also reminds me to move with the wind, but to remain rooted to those principles I hold in higher regard. In doing these things, my life has become a fulfilling experience.