How many times have you heard the phrase, “I couldn’t help myself”? How many times have you used it?
Well, this morning it’s true for me. Last night, I couldn’t help myself. I couldn’t not stay up to hear Mitt Romney’s acceptance of what was true for him in the election last night. I couldn’t not stay up to listen to President Barack Obama accept what was true for him.
I’m glad I did because, I couldn’t help myself. I had to do it.
Even though I told myself, I can hear the replay tomorrow. It’s past midnight. I’ve got to get up in the morning. I couldn’t not stay up to hear them live.
President Obama’s speech was passionate, heartfelt and inspiring. I like the man I’ve seen on news shows and in debates. I like what he stands for. I like how he responds to criticism and to accolades. I like him. And while I’m not American, listening to his speech last night, I gained a better understanding of my neighbours, and friends, to the south and I gained a deeper appreciation of what makes one man, and one nation, great.
This is not a political column. I don’t pretend to have great insight into the workings of the ‘big machine’. But last night (early this morning) I came to a realization of what it is I so admire about my neighbours to the south. You are not victims of the past. You are victors of the present. You are visionaries of the future.
In his speech last night, President Obama said.
“That’s why we do this. That’s what politics can be. That’s why elections matter. It’s not small, it’s big. It’s important. Democracy in a nation of 300 million can be noisy and messy and complicated. We have our own opinions. Each of us has deeply held beliefs. And when we go through tough times, when we make big decisions as a country, it necessarily stirs passions, stirs up controversy.
That won’t change after tonight, and it shouldn’t. These arguments we have are a mark of our liberty. We can never forget that as we speak people in distant nations are risking their lives right now just for a chance to argue about the issues that matter, the chance to cast their ballots like we did today.”
He made me want to get up and get engaged, get involved. He made sense of why we all need to vote, to exercise our right to have a say in the very vehicle we have constructed to determine who leads our cities, our provinces/states, our country. And then he said,
“Tonight you voted for action, not politics as usual.
You elected us to focus on your jobs, not ours.”
“But that doesn’t mean your work is done. The role of citizens in our Democracy does not end with your vote. America’s never been about what can be done for us. It’s about what can be done by us together through the hard and frustrating, but necessary work of self-government. That’s the principle we were founded on.”
Ah yes, people are elected to office to represent ‘the people’, not their self-interests. They take up the mantle of governance to be the voice and counsel of those who elected them to office. It is a reciprocal relationship and yet, so often, we ‘the people’ forget our role in that equation. We acquiesce to politics, to authority, to people in position to whom we not only cede power over governance of our cities and provinces and country, but also our lives.
I stayed up late last night to hear a great man speak up and out for a great country.
Sure, I can sit here in the northern climes of Canada and be part of the voices that deride or mock our neighbours to the south. Sure, I can criticize what I judge to be their short-sighted financial policies, their lack of universal health care, their military apparatus, their pollution, their greed, their arrogance.
But none of it would be true and all of it would be unworthy. Of them. Of me. Of my country.
Because what I heard President Obama say last night is that it takes everyone to create change. It takes everyone to make a difference. And in my view, that everyone includes me. It includes all of us living and breathing the shared air of this planet earth we call home.
Sure, the United States is a powerful country — but, they stand on the same continent, share the same waters, air, land that we do here in Canada. And between our continent and others on this planet, there are the shared waters that flow between us.
We are all connected.
And the sooner I let go of my belief that we are separate and distinct, disconnected through the name of the country stamped on our passports, the sooner I’ll find my difference connecting to what makes we humans great — our capacity to not just improve ourselves, but rather, our capacity to transform our world, person by person, heart by heart.
Thank you President Obama for reminding me about my capacity to make a difference. Thank you for reminding me that we are all born to live our greatness. It’s not just your job. It’s mine too.
Wonderful post – I am even further away but the impact of this affects us all.
It does impact all of us Julie — which speaks again to our connection 🙂
I feel empowered by his speech. On the heals of a horrible storm at my home in NY City where so many feel defeated this was needed.
I hope the storm didn’t cause too much distress for you Sandra — it was horrifying to watch from a distance and most have been terrifying to be in it! Glad you’re safe.
I also stayed up and am glad I did. I couldn’t have slept anyway if I didn’t know before I turned in that O had won. Our president is not without flaws but in this particular election he was the only candidate worthy of the office. To know that he won both popular vote and electoral college does make a difference. It’s time now for everyone elected or re-elected to join in working to resolve the huge problems before us.
SL, I’m so sorry to learn your home in NYC was affected by the hurricane. My son lives in Brooklyn but oddly the damage in the neighborhood where he lives was not so bad, comparatively. I have a number of friends in the City toughing it out. I think Obama will continue to do what’s right by everyone there.
Isn’t that the challenge of politics Maureen — for all sides to work for the common good of the people they serve. We have the same issue in Canada. It’s as if each party feels they must pick apart the other party’s policies, particularly if the one party is in power — to prove their worth. If only they’d realize their greatest worth is found in working collaboratively on the issues that face us.
Glad you made it through the storm!
I love the peace in your perspective:)
thanks for the stir,
Thanks Jennifer! Hugs 🙂
sadly, it ain’t that simple
I too like his mind, his oratory …. and no doubt we both like his speech writers
the problems are gargantuan and, so far, Obama + Republican House + Democratic Senate haven’t wrapped their collective arms in any way that could be remotely considered constructive, cooperative or effective in slowing the train before it crashes over the cliff
the spirit you write of is fine, but the poverty, unemployement, immigration and debt/waste cannot be escaped, avoided or swept under the oval office rug
I wish there was an Obamaesque republican (the un-Romney) who could bridge the divide – not that Harper/Flaherty are on my xmas card list, but the restraint works, reducing debt works, reducing taxes on business works … something Clinton-era lovers are quick to forget.
Obama is clearly the smartest guy in the room – but right now U.S. leadership needs skills he doesn’t have …. so hopefully he’ll rope some in
I’ve written more on this in my ‘CLIFF DWELLING’ column today at: http://markmusing.com/nov72012musing.html
I know Mark — Pollyanna is my second name 🙂
Didn’t see the speach, didn’t vote for him……….cause I can’t but hell no surprise that he won
I was surprised Joanne — only because the race was so close!
This was beautifully written. I especially love the paragraph “But none of it would be true and all of it would be unworthy. etc…” To me that is a statement that could be used anywhere and everywhere for anything. An all purpose, all encompassing statement, that also has great insight and depth. Thank you! I’m stealing it for myself!
Thanks Sheryl — ‘steal’ away! 🙂 It’s not stealing when you tell. And I always think words are released and when they resonate, they get released again and again! 🙂
Thanks for the post Maggie. I too, stayed up very late last night watching the election returns, and listening to the commentary that went on for hours. I am grateful the our president was re-elected for another 4 years. I think our country is moving in the right direction.
I’m so sory Louise. I confused your name with another blogging friend. You both write about heartfelt issues. 🙂
Lol — not a problem Carolyn. I’ve done it myself elsewhere!
And yes, I think you are going in the right direction.
My sister was telling me this morning she wishes she had the opportunity to vote too for President Obama. The United States have an influence on the whole world!!! I loved this post!
They do influence the whole world Nikky, which is why I think it’s so important that the leaders recognize their power and use it wisely — which means you need thoughtful leaders! Something I admire in Obama — he is a thoughtful man conscious of the power he yields. Hugs