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A Vision of Hope (Revisited Anew)

This was one of the most popular posts I wrote for my blog, originally called A Wolf At The Door  and later renamed, more positively (in the sense of embracing our troubles rather than simply fighting them), Loving The Wolf.

It reflects the heady yet deeply disturbing background against which the presidential race in 2008 was fought - and my personal belief that President-Elect Barack Obama offered the best hope for a nation that was already in deep trouble.

I still believe that, despite disappointments that he has not taken on Wall Street and much-needed regulation more forcefully, and that he has been unable to change the acid climate in Washington (a task that looks more Herculean by the day).

But I am very glad that he is our president. Simply by winning the presidency, he changed forever the face of America, making it more inclusive of all people - and I believe that he has done a pretty good job (given the obstacles he has faced, both from opposition in Congress and from a rabid right-wing media) of sorting out the incredible mess that George W Bush's disastrous policies got us into. How much smaller would the deficit be now if we had not undertaken the ill-planned, immoral and unfounded Iraq War, just to take one example? Sold as a response to 9/11, it had no connection with the terrorist network that had planned and executed that barbarous act.

So here is my original post, A Vision Of Hope, written on Friday, November 21, 2008:

Friday, November 21, 2008

A Vision Of Hope by Alexander Chow-Stuart

The news story below, which reflects a report by the NIC (National Intelligence Council) predicting an increasingly unstable and unpredictable future by 2025, and the waning of American power, has been widely reported elsewhere.

While the world clearly faces extraordinary challenges in virtually every regard right now, whether it be financial instability,  dwindling natural resources, global warming, poverty or domestic and international conflict, the words "thus it ever was" come to mind.

I remember reading media accounts of intelligence reports in the 1970s that predicted worldwide chaos and increasing violence by now, and while sadly there is always evidence of instability and violence, I am not sure that things are so much worse now than they were in the 1970s or certainly the 1930s.

The NIC, like any intelligence agency or any think-tank, has a job to do and its own existence to justify, and while I am no pie-in-the-sky idealist, I do believe that what President-Elect Obamabrought to the recent election, and will bring to the White House, is an overwhelming sense of hope: the "Audacity of Hope," to quote the title of one of his books.

If we focus on the negative, as we largely have for the past eight years, we are encouraged to live in fear and to temper our ambitions and our dreams.

If we live in hope, it doesn't mean that we deny the existence of the problems that surround us, but that we believe that we will find solutions, that together we will find greater strength, that if necessary we will shift our energy and food and manufacturing production into new directions - because we have to - and that while we may make mistakes initially, and while the balance of power, both political and financial, may change, ultimately we will make the right choices.

It is important that our new president be meticulously informed of the state of the world and of possible scenarios of the future, but my own hope is that Barack Obama doesn't lose his inspiring and empowering sense of hope amid the many challenges he will face as President and Commander in Chief.

He excited vast numbers of people - a 52% popular majority of the voters of this nation, as well as countless numbers of others around the globe - by offering, for the first time in memory, a political agenda based on a belief in our innate strengths and goodness as human beings.

As the parent of one young child, with another due in January, I pray for them and for all of us that President Obama's vision of the future will be achieved, that we will meet whatever challenges or disasters or attacks or dramatic changes in circumstance that may occur with ingenuity and imagination, with a faith in humankind and a belief that we can cherish our planet and build a better world for our children.

In the midst of the late 1930s and early 1940s in England, while Hitler was pressing Germany into an horrific war, and even as he served personally as a "watchman" during the Blitz of German bombers over London during that war, an American-born poet, T S Eliot, wrote one of the world's most beautiful and most spiritual books, reflecting on time, love, life, death, impermanence and permanence, and spirituality at its most sublime: Four Quartets.

As the world was falling into what appeared to be a vortex of destruction, Eliot wrote, among many other astonishingly beautiful passages:

"At the still point of the turning world.  Neither flesh nor
Neither from nor towards; at the still point, there the dance
is...and there is only the dance."

Let us all make it our responsibility each day to focus at least for a few moments on that still point and to hold to it - hold to the possibility of peace, both inner and outer, in this world, and of our role in this life as something to be honored and cherished and to be grateful for.

Let us continue to live in hope.


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