Sunday, November 09, 2008

Everyone suddenly burst out singing!

The opening line of Siegfried Sassoon’s poem, written so many Novembers ago, came to my mind early Wednesday morning watching the Obama speech. This short poem, celebrating the end of World War I, contains so much hope: “And beauty came like the setting sun/ My heart was shaken with tears”. As I watched the tears streaming down Jesse Jackson’s face, I felt my own cheeks grow wet.

I was rather taken aback by my emotional reaction. After all, I am not African-American, nor do I have memories of this country during the Civil Rights era. Yet, as an immigrant to this country who became a citizen just before the election of George W Bush, this week I felt the most pride I have ever felt in my adopted country. Perhaps, as my husband pointed out to me, it has something to do with the fact that our immigration was a matter of choice rather than necessity. We had chosen to make the USA our permanent home and so the notion that we chose the things represented by the Bush administration made me secretly ashamed of my part in that choice, even though I did not vote for him.

Here is a chance for me to feel positive about my country’s future, to hold my head up with friends and family overseas. Of course, a cautionary note is sounded by history; World War I was, as we now know all too well, not The War To End All Wars. So, am I too cynical to suppose that Obama will not be the savior of the land? Anxiety can drain all enjoyment from life; moments of happiness are resented because we know misery is sure to follow. Tuesday night I threw caution to the wind and enjoyed the sensation of hope.

For hope is what it is all about; we the people must work to recover from our collective PTSD. Like the wounded soldiers returning from Iraq, it will not be easy, there are many obstacles ahead. But, with a nod to the Civil Rights struggles which have led us to this moment, perhaps this time truly we shall overcome.

9 Nov 2008

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