Volume No. 2 Issue No. 63 - Monday, December 29, 2008|
President Barack Obama and Expectations
By Dr Emanuel Finn
At Christmas Eve Midnight mass in a Catholic Church in West Palm Beach, Florida, a colorful choir sang a powerful rendition of one of the oldest and most popular Christmas carols known to man.
President elect Barack Obama.
'Joy to the World' was written in 1719 by Englishman Isaac Watts (1674-1748) and that song has been recorded many times over. Whilst listening intently to the song in church, it triggered the great anticipation and realization that the first black president will be riding majestically into Washington DC in a few weeks and there will be ‘Joy in the World’.
As I thought further about this momentous period in America’s journey, I was excited in church for my two little girls who are making their way through America’s systems with all its opportunities and challenges, just about the same time a convincing Obama election mandate and presidency is redefining a complex America.
My home in the foothills of the Au Vent region of Dominica between the banks of the Sari-Sari and Laronde rivers awaits me, but not necessary for my children. They will probably make their homes either in California, the Pacific North West, New York City, and Washington DC; somewhere in the mighty U.S.A. For these Caribbean–American kids, the symbolism that an Obama presidency brings with it makes it an exciting time to be growing up in the land of their birth.
As the church service went on, I rejoiced and prayed for Mr. Obama and wished him the best of luck during his historical and challenging presidency. Indeed the whole world is rejoicing.
From Dominica to Djibouti, Cairo to Cape Verde and Cape Town; from the troubled Middle East to the quiet American Midwest;, from the Occupied Palestinian Territories to Paris, Lithuania to Latin America and everywhere.
But my feelings of joy and excitement were constantly punctured by the realistic thoughts of the many other pressing challenges and crisis Mr. Obama faces as President. First and foremost, his and his family’s personal safety, two wars and the worst economic downturn in decades.
By the time the mass was over, I became more reflective and thankful for other reasons. My family and I had temporality ‘escaped’ the bitter cold of old man winter up north in DC for a few days and was spending the Christmas holidays with family in sunny Florida.
Also, my wife and I will be hosting many out of town friends at our home in Washington DC during the inaugural weekend. Like us, their humble beginnings, simple journeys and honest dreams began in small communities in the Dominican country-side and on the steps of our alma maters, Dominica Grammar and Convent High Schools and other schools in Roseau.
In the euphoria of the moment and the nostalgic feelings of the Christmas time summer weather as we knew it back home, I reflected on the achievements of this extraordinary young former junior U.S Senator from Illinois who came from modest beginnings with strong family love and support.
At that moment, that famous carol sounded to be like this:
‘Joy to the world, Mr. Obama has come!
Let earth receive him gracefully;
Let every heart prepare him room,……
He will rule the world with truth, conviction and grace,
And will make this nation great again,
The glories of his forward thinking,
And wonders of his tenacity and compassion will be realized by all…….
In a congratulatory letter to president-elect Barack Obama, French President Nicholas Sarkozy wrote, "Your election raises in France, in Europe, and beyond throughout the world’.
Similar statements from dozens of world leaders and images of people around the world celebrating his election make clear Mr. Barack Obama will enjoy a good deal of international goodwill when he takes office on January 20, 2009.
Mr. Obama's election offers a monumental transformation of America's face to the world. Many see him as the epitome of the American dream. But his appeal is not solely based on the fact that he is black or that his middle name is Hussein, or that his father was Kenyan and his mother was a white woman from Kansas, or that he spent part of his childhood in Indonesia.
But as high as those hopes are, so too are the sky-high expectations. The world has been seduced by Mr. Obama's vision of change. But will "Obamamania" survive the realities of governing?
There are numerous and entangled complications that former candidate Obama will face as President Obama in these very difficult and trying times. He will need a lot of support, cooperation, patience and understanding along the way from America and the world at large.
We wish him well and he will be in our prayers.
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