Tuesday, January 20, 2009

The Fire This Time

Today, as I watch history from my laptop, I can't help but have concerns for our new president. Of course I take issue with the media. Not that I would expect anything less from corporate, but the contrived nature of the Obama coverage is tiring.  Because he's Black, every song in the audio video montage points to his race, which is important for several obvious reasons, but I wonder if we will allow him to be anything other than "the first black president?" 

Social constructions do nothing but perpetuate the status quo, regardless of the power behind the bearer of said label.  Labels limit, force conformity, pale in definition the true color of a person.  Most would argue that that is precisely why Obama's election is so significant; he is the personification of King's dream - elected for the content of his character, not the color of his skin.  I'd like to think that is true, but there are enough voters who said yes (or no) to him because of his skin.  Though it sounds good to say we are color blind, witness the coverage today: how often does the media make reference to his race, either through the music or through the voice of the public?  They are limiting him before he even gets started.  But it is not just the media - we are doing it too.

Great expectations often exceed the actual event.  I learned this on a trip from Orlando to Tampa, trying to make it to the beach before the sun.  I wanted to see it set, longed for the moment of peace I once took for granted as a child growing up on the Pacific coast.  That final two or three minutes of ending eased my anxieties, like the "ah-hah" moment at the end of a suspense thriller; satisfaction that the truth has finally being revealed.  I held this desire in my heart, building higher and higher with each mile.  Through the traffic on that long stretch of Clearwater highway, I started to worry I might miss it.  I became desperate, easily frustrated by other drivers.  But, despite my bad attitude, I made it to the beach, found a balcony and made myself comfortable to watch the main event.  It happened, and then it was over.  That peace I hoped for, didn't come.  Not because the sunset wasn't beautiful.  I simply wanted something that no single event can provide.  I sought peace.  What I got was a peaceful sunset.

We seek change, and expect our new leader to provide it. Obama cannot save us, yet we deceive ourselves if we believe he can.  When he doesn't - because no one man can -will we blame him? Shame on us if we do.  When we give someone so much power to lift us up out of the mire, we risk bringing the same person down with our disappointment.  This is unfair, and sets our leader up for failure before he even begins.  Love affairs almost always end up with pain because of the illusion of satisfaction.  When reality sets in, we point fingers at the magician, but we are responsible as we bought the ticket to witness the magic.

We must replace our trust and hope and faith in man and put it in it's proper place - the only One who can save from the mess we're in, political and social, but more importantly, our personal mess.  We have gotten into the habit of looking outside ourselves for change. But every good quote states otherwise - change must come from within.  Biblically put, we must become new creatures in Christ.

Unfortunately our country has lost it's sense of His presence - we've kicked God out of everything important in our lives and turned instead to worship idols.  Cable TV, movies, videos, games, books, drugs, alcohol, sex, anything that will help us escape from ourselves.  We spend our time doing what we believe is important and fit God in where we can.  God is secondary to our personal agendas.  But we'll be the first to complain when our escape route fails.  I worry that Obama has become our next escape.  We risk making him a scapegoat, a good man could be destroyed by the blazing pyre we built for him.  Some have made him into the messiah, but recall what happened to the true Christ.  The people crucified him! 

Let's not label him as such, not just because it's blasphemous, but because labels bind us to a set of societal expectations that are often contradictory to our true nature. We are spiritual beings born into physical bodies.  It is the world that makes our flesh more important, more valued, more inspirational, than our Creator.  If this is the road we are traveling, there is not much Obama can do to help - we're doomed before we get a chance to start anew.

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