Obama rose to the occasion. This whole thing about Rev. Jeremiah Wright is a great opportunity for Barack and the more he realizes it, the better he will be able to use the power surge triggered by it, to enhance his own strength. His first speech about it was good, but he can do better still. This is the defining opportunity to draw the candidacy towards him. And we are confident he will. We hope he will. For there is no-one among the candidates better qualified than Barack to clean up the mess left behind by his predecessor Bush.
Now, our only fear is that Bush has not done enough damage yet for the American people to wake up. In this interconnected and interdependent superpower world, what happens in the US, happens to us. ‘US to us’, remember that phrase. Consider the upper case vs. lower case in it (which reminds one of ‘caste’, doesn’t it?). The point is, we live in a so-called democracy, yet we (the plebeian citizens living outside the patrician US) can do very little to influence US politics which affect us daily, even to the point of determining whether we shall live in war or peace. We do not have the vote, we are not even allowed to make campaign contributions to US presidential candidates. And still the people are sleeping. What will it take to wake them up? That is where our fear lies: it might take another Bush to wake them up.
The prophet Jeremiah
The Rev. Wright’s name is interesting in this context. We presume that ‘wright’ is old spelling for the word ‘right’. So the man’s right, one might say. And in some respects he is right, but not in all respects. Therefore this is such a big opportunity for Barack to get our race relations right. Not ‘Wright’, mind you, but just plain ‘right’. In his speech Obama has taken the first step to make them right. It is a superb speech, but it is just the first step. We believe Obama will need at least 8 years to make them right.
Then there is the first name ‘Jeremiah’, the Biblical prophet of doom, who turned out to be quite right, by the way. Jeremiah Wright is also right in a certain way. He is wrong where he believes (and clearly implies) that the black race is somehow better than the white race. By decrying white supremacy, you simultaneously affirm black supremacy. Both are evidence of skewed thinking. Both are delusions, for there is no race supremacy.
There is no race supremacy
After having been oppressed for a long time by white people, many blacks have come to believe that they are somehow better than white people. They believe (as some Jews do) that they themselves are not capable of the cruelty done to them in the past by whites. Therefore whites are to be despised. After all, look at Hitler, and Stalin, Colonialism, not to mention the old Roman Emperors, the Medieval Church etc. One long history of cruelty and oppression by whites.
Seen this long history and the human tendency to emphasize the negative over the positive (the civilizing advances made during this long history are always forgotten), it took quite an impressive series of massacres of blacks by blacks (Nigerians vs. Biafrans, Hutu’s vs. Tutsi’s, and machete-wielding Sierra-Leonians among themselves, to mention a few), Asians by Asians (we might mention Pol Pot, responsible of incredible cruelty against millions, or even the Chinese vs. Tibetans today), and Muslims by Muslims (how about Sunni’s vs. Shi’ites?) to ‘set the record straight’, so to speak. That is to say, all people of all races are capable of the most atrocious cruelty, but also of the most astounding compassion.
The negative perspective
As a matter of fact, throughout history there has been more compassion than cruelty among people and nations, but we don’t see it. “When I do something right, nobody notices. When I do something wrong, nobody forgets’, as the saying goes. This negative perspective is what holds most of us back. It stops us from believing in a better future, for we fear that no matter how hard we try, somebody will come along and mess things up. And this same negative outlook then becomes a powerful force of destruction, constantly triggered and fed by the power of our own negative outlook. A strange and destructive loop indeed.
We are writing this on Good Friday, when Christians commemorate Christ’s suffering. And indeed this suffering has been emphasized much more than Christ’s Resurrection which will follow on Sunday. Thus the Church itself has inadvertently fed the destructive force more than it has sublimated it (as in the Resurrection). Despite all this we have advanced, which only goes to show that the ultimate power in life is ‘integrating, protective, constructive and healthy’. When we know that, we can and must reverse our negative outlook on life and make it positive.
What has this all got to do with Obama?
Obama is Obama. He is not Jesus of Nazareth. Nevertheless, his outlook is positive and profoundly Christian in the best constructive sense there is. He has come at the right time in the right place to fix this racial divide. So that the Jeremiah Wrights no longer feel they have to preach doom and anger from a victim perspective. So that he may inspire Sunni’s and Shi’ites to stop the carnage.
And so that he may get the troops out and send reconstruction in. This too, we hope he will do. Not by giving development aid to corrupt dictatorial (or even democratic) governments, but by giving direct aid to the people in budding democratic countries, to help build schools and hospitals there. And to help build up their economies from the bottom up, for the people by the people.
We know Obama can’t do everything. But we hope he will be able to trigger a new way of thinking. And that this positive unitary thinking may trigger a real national and international positive change, which is precisely what Obama’s campaign has been about all along.
Jon Stewart’s take on Obama’s speech was also good, but can still improve. His last remark was partially cut off. He said something like: ‘a speech about race as though speaking to adults. A clearer compliment is hardly imaginable. Enjoy! The whole speech will be saved for future reference in our ‘Outstanding Videos’ section (see the left bar menu).