Below is a reflection that I wrote in 2008, in the immediate days after President Obama's first election win. I've added one word (added for emphasis-- can you find it?). Thanks to Michael Wright and Steve Lewis of the blog TheCommonUnity.org for preserving this little ditty.
Dear Obama Generation:
People will be tempted to confine us to an age group—a cohort marked by young hip-hop-facebook-myspace-youtube-twitter-handheld-blogoshpere-instant message mania. Yes, we are that and so much more. But know that the Obama Generation cannot be confined to an age group. The Obama Generation is a transcendent-multi-dimensional and radically inclusive way of being, a movement in the best traditions of humanity’s past strivings for freedom and community. We are smart, brilliant, filled with creative genius, and willing to plumb if necessary for the third and fourth and fifth ways in hopes of resolving humanity’s most perplexing challenges. Ours is a generation that courageously affirms that the salvation we all seek is a collective experience—that none of us will be saved until all of us are saved. We are bold enough to believe that the heaven we all hope for, the change that we all seek, need not happen after we take our last breath. That indeed by the power of the spirit it can happen right here on earth, during the living of our days.
Heed though one word of advice and caution. Beware of wolves in sheep’s clothing who now wave Obama signs and who pass around the en vogue fist bump. They have picked up on our refrain—Yes We Can! Revolution! Change! Unity! Look closely and you will see that their newfound revolutionary zeal is betrayed by their continued lust for power and attention. From their high places they will attempt to lull us to sleep, saying things like racism and classicism are dead, that homophobia is a thing of the past, and that gender equity has been achieved. Many of these are the same leaders and captains of industry who gave rise to the challenges our generation is now compelled to address: War and violence that has demolished countries and demoralized our own national psyche; global financial crisis precipitated by greed and golden parachutes; a fragile and declining environment made worse by the continued lust for fossil fuels and the profits they bring; forced removals and mass relocations of our most vulnerable citizens in urban centers under the guise of redevelopment and urban renewal; and a healthcare and insurance system that still remains beyond the grasp of more than 40 million of our fellow sisters and brothers and their children. Be very careful, for ironically we now hear many of the usual beneficiaries of privilege and their puppets clamoring for change, when perhaps what they really want is more of the same. It serves their interest that it remains so.
Those who are rollin’ with us, the Obama Generation, will be identified not by lofty titles, degrees, and material holdings, but rather by the capacity and willingness to love our neighbor as we do ourselves, to bear and make peace, to roll up our sleeves and do the work, to witness the truth, and pursue more restorative forms of justice, giving preference to those in our midst who are struggling the most. We will do this with a bias toward creating a more fair and equitable global community.
All of time has been awaiting our arrival. We have been prepared for this moment, called by our forbears and shaped in the best virtues of community and relatedness: Ubuntu (people are people through other people), Umoja (unity) and Ujamaa (cooperative economics), Shalom and Salaam (peace), Satyagraha (soul force), Ahimsa (insistence upon truth), and Agape (unconditional love). Imbued with this endowment of cultural riches our voice, our thoughts, our spirit, and our energy will lead the way. Our ancestors, ones who made a way out of no way, deserve it, and our future demands it.
A mere man, Barack Hussein Obama, has risen up bringing the good news– YES WE CAN! And maybe, just maybe, a whole nation, a world even, will rise with him!
It’s our time and “we ain’t goin let nobody turn us around!”