Hope Exceeding

Today felt like the start of a new world order. As I watched the US election results unfold I began to see beyond what is to what could be.

I was so encouraged by the number of people who voted, the number of young people who voted, and by the belief in change that many people so obviously carried in their hearts. It was like the world was learning once more how to hope.

When it was announced that Barack Obama was the President Elect, my son and I cried. ‘This is a real moment in history,’ my son said. A real moment.

We surfed every news channel and all the images were the same. People were in the streets. Rejoicing. I have an old antique  brass bell that I keep in the china cabinet because it is so fragile and I don’t want it to break but I couldn’t help myself today – I rang it. Holding it above my head and letting it peal with joy. Yes we can. Yes we can. Yes we can, my son and I chanted in between peals from the bell and rather vigorous jumping up and down. It was invigorating and as close to real jubilation as I have felt for a long time. That bell hasn’t been rung for over ten years.

Just before Barack Obama gave his acceptance speech the camera panned to the crowd in Grant Park, Chicago and I saw a man. He was an elderly African-American man just standing there, drinking in the atmosphere. He wasn’t clapping, he wasn’t cheering, he wasn’t even smiling, but as the camera zoomed in on him for the briefest of moments I saw a single tear run down his cheek.

The significance of that tear was enormous. It dissolved unvoiced doubts, unspoken fears. It gathered dreams of what could be and if only into bunches of what is.

The night tastes sweet when the heart is full of joy. If you put out your tongue you can taste renmants of clouds, light as spun sugar. And then the wind comes and blows the clouds away. And all you can see is stars.

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29 thoughts on “Hope Exceeding

  1. Well, I hope I feel the same way in two years’ time!

    One of our correspondents likened him to Tony Blair … at first, affable, likeable, charismatic and intelligent, but turned out to be the biggest disaster to hit this country since the Great Plague.

    But, I really hope his comparison and his forecast is wrong.

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  2. Great news. But yes, the important thing now is whether he can deliver.

    But such a relief. The alternative was too scary to contemplate.

    The amazing thing is that I have come across very few bloggers on my Reader who do not support Obama. And yet clearly there are plenty of McCain supporters around. My bloglist has remained largely unchanged since before the election fever hotted up and everyone started talking about it, so I guess I must choose Democrat type blogs without even realising it. Weird.

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  3. I woke up at 4 am and became depressed. The results were just coming in and it looked very close. I had told everyone it would be a slam dunk, wouldn’t have to pass the Mississippi. I felt sick.

    Then within a few hours all had changed. Suddenly CNN announced Obama had won! I started crying. I couldn’t believe it. I have been living with heavy hatred for my birth place since Reaganomics threw my sick mother onto the streets of Chicago and Milwaukee, homeless, where she contracted the disease that eventually killed her. But today I am proud. I am proud that Americans did the right thing. I don’t believe in destiny. I believe we make our own way. But this man- somehow my beliefs are being tested. Destiny hovers in the air around him. you’re right Selma, something has shifted. It is time to ring the bells.

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  4. I’m glad we are rid of the worst president in history. I do think the economic crisis will be here for awhile. with someone new in office , there is still hope.

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  5. I’ve got to admit I’m a little surprised that you have such strong feelings and y’all ain’t even Amourican! Actually I consider Australians to be more like Americans than most Americans. Anyway, I have to get back to patting myself on the back. Something tells me this moment of euphoria won’t last long.

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  6. TRAVELRAT – I hope so too. It would be so disappointing, otherwise. Fingers crossed.

    RELUCTANT – me too. It is an odd thing. I do know one or two Republican bloggers but they are cool about it and don’t cram their views in everyone’s face. I like that. I do have faith Obama can deliver!

    HEATHER – we’re with you. I think it’s important to view the world in a global sense. I have family scattered throughout the US – North Carolina, Florida, New York, San Francisco. The result of this election matters to them, so it also matters to me. I also cannot help but be enthusiastic about a man who will possibly turn out to be one of the iconic figures of the 21st century. History in the making, right here.

    LAURI – I had no idea that had happened to your Mum. How devastating. I am so terribly sorry. Awww, hon. I want to give you a hug after hearing that. It makes me angry, though. I think when governments focus so much on balancing the books and cutting social welfare programs, the people who really need the government to step in and help them miss out. It has happened in Australia. Our former PM wore the economic rationalist mantle proudly. It has caused widespread problems for many people. That said, I do feel hope today. It is a magical feeling. It is a turning point. XXX

    LURAGANO – I cannot help but be moved by such a man as Obama. Everyone I know in Sydney has been. The likes of him doesn’t come along every day!

    PUNATIK – oh, of course the economy will be stuffed for a while but there is hope now. YEEEEEEHHHHAAAAAAA!!!!!!

    RICHARD – our economy is so closely tied to yours and you have so many sister companies in Sydney that we are practically an unacknowledged US state. He is a great man though. I am excited!

    JASON – oh, yeah, a truly FABULOUS moment. It is wonderful!

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  7. Hi Selma,
    I think that this whole election has been about symbolism and hope.
    It has been a stepping stone.
    If Mr. Obama can ‘deliver’, fine, but just remember, it is not just about him, the entire ‘system’ of government has to ‘deliver’.
    The American people have, I think, just stated that more of the same is NOT good enough. Terrorism, wars, super-capitalism (A.N. strikes again!), people losing their homes, the homeless, a genuine lack of ‘welfare’, children finding ‘solace’ from the stress in today’s world through drugs……………ENOUGH!
    With great power comes great (social) responsibility, I think that some past presidents may have forgotten that, obviously the American People haven’t.
    There is great power in a smile but there is even greater power in a single shed tear of compassion and hope.
    If I had one word of advice for Mr. Obama it would be to ‘think’ about his initials, B.O’B., ‘Bring it On Boys’.
    If we can translate this euphoria into determinism then we definitely have a ‘chance’, as the old saying goes, “No Guts, no Glory”……….WOOOOHOOOOOO!!! 🙂

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  8. I was beside myself with emotion when Obama won. For various reasons, on various levels. Now, I originally wanted Hillary, but when she was no longer in the running, I shifted my support to Obama. My allegiance to Hillary was more about experience, and… cajones. I think Obama will do well, though. He’s smart enough to surround himself with experience, and use that as a foundation from which to spring forth.

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  9. i believe that man was the reverend jesse jackson a longstanding black activist and a man that has fought the fine fight that needed to be fought to get a man like barak obama in the white house… several news publications have published a brief conversation with him after the acceptance speech… google it.. it is well worth the read…

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  10. I was going to say it must have been Jesse Jackson shedding a tear. It started the first of many tears I shed last night. I’m not sure why this affected me so, I think it’s the promise of a new era. I didn’t think America would elect him, I really didn’t…

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  11. I have been cognizant of 13 presidential elections in my lifetime, starting with President John F. Kennedy when I was five. I have never been so moved at electing a new President as I was last night! As our new President-elect delivered a powerful and emotional victory speech to a throng of half-a-million people, I felt joy and pride and love and hope that we can be a better people, a better country.

    Barack Obama is not going to give the United States the answers to all its problems. He has said as much. We will work together to make it happen. He’s given us a glimmer that anything is possible, that dreams can be attained, that problems can be solved if we take responsibility for making it happen.

    It is a good day here, Selma, and thank you for celebrating with us!

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  12. CHRIS – social responsibility really is the way to go for any leader. I have a feeling President Obama will do just fine! Excellent comment.

    EPIPHANY – I liked Hillary too. She is still someone I find inspirational. I am sorry she and Obama were pitted against one another, initially. I am sure it has all turned out for the best though.

    PAISLEY – I saw Jesse Jackson in the crowd and he moved me too, but this was another man. I didn’t recognise him. I was so touched by his expression. I’ll never forget it.

    NAT – I was bawling my eyes out. I couldn’t believe how affected I was by it. Such a phenomenal moment!

    SAINTPAULGRRL – I think the entire world is celebrating with you. It is such a memorable day. I feel so lucky to have seen it.

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  13. Well, history was certainly made, and no one can take that away, but …
    From day one he reminded me of Blair, and what is presently happening is a direct echo of the euphoria for a new beginning in Britain in May 97. It was the beginning of arguably the worst government in British history.
    I live in hope – but I’ll need to cross more than my fingers 🙂

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  14. Your writing is so elevating and precise and controlled. It’s a real delight to read. I was thinking today that it is also a time when the internet community as a whole can a take a (tiny tiny) bit of credit for effecting real positive change in the world. I think the openness of the community allows certain fundamental principles of what it means to be human to be communicated. You are obviously a wonderful example, Selma, both as a writer and as a creator of community.

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  15. Yesterday (the day after the electtion) my son bought a copy of the Chicago Tribune with Obama’s pictured on the front. He told me he wants to frame it. With that we both had tears running down our cheeks. It is still sinking in; this light at the end of the tunnel.

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  16. Thank you Selma. Lovely post. And now it is time for the rolling up of sleeves and the work to commence. All that must evolve will not happen of its own accord. Chris is so right. This about a nation that must repair itself. And that will mean work from all sides. I believe this leader is up to the task of instigating, pushing, mediating that process, but he will not be able to do it alone. We must demand non-partisan teamwork from our representatives in DC – they should be inundated with email and phone calls insisting they work with the new administration in a spirit of cooperation. And we must let them know post haste when we believe they are off course. We cannot sit back and wait and see if Obama lives up to the promise. Each of us must also invest in the process of change. And we can. Yes we can.

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  17. Barack Obama seems to be a brilliant, compassionate man. I do hope the task at hand for him is not too daunting.

    I also fear for his safety in his new position. Colin Powell talked about his hesitations about running for president as a black man. Let’s hope that the U.S. (North and South) are ready for this dynamic change…. some people are bound to be fighting this all the way.

    Don’t mean to be a downer, I just think there is so much at stake here. I hope it all works out for the best and that the new president has a long and successful term(s) in the White House.

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  18. Hi Selma,
    Just wanted to thank Kayt for the agreement. See what happens when you get a whole lot of ‘right minded’ people together, AMAZING things can happen!

    By the way, I’m having Lemon and Garlic Prawns with risone pasta for lunch today……………….I’ve finished all of my pizza! 🙂

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  19. ANTHONY – I guess we’ll know soon enough. However, I know how perceptive you are and now I am worried. Only time will tell.

    PAUL – how kind you are. That means a lot to me. Community is a very important thing to me. I agree with you about the internet affecting change. It is a very powerful tool these days. Long may it continue.

    MELEAH – I was crying too. I was doing that gasping, snorting thing. Highly attractive. LOL. I don’t mind looking like a mess for Obama!!!

    LINDA – oh, please, this is a totally non-grammatical moment for all of us. It’s all about the emotion. You should definitely frame that paper. That is something precious!

    KAYT – I agree with you 100%. We are all part of the process. The world over. Together we can make a better world.

    GERALDINE – I fear for him too. I am praying he will be safe. It is a legitimate concern.

    CHRIS – do you cook these dishes yourself, because if you do I have to say – ‘Watch out Gordon Ramsay!’ Sounds delicious. You still haven’t recovered from the ‘Smooshing Boobies’ post, have you? 😆

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  20. Hi Selma,
    No.
    No matter what I add to my pizzas, extra pineapple, finely sliced kransky, sun dried tomato, eggplant, wine marinated onion, etc., as soon as I take it out of the oven all I can see are ……………..TWO STARS………..and………………its all YOUR fault!!
    Aaarrrggghhhh!, ruined for life 🙂

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  21. CHRIS – you’re right, I did almost miss you. Sorry about that. That is hilarious. Scarred for life. I must admit I have a laugh when I see a pizza now. Too funny!

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