Mutts like us can do it

Barack Obama is not the only mutt in America. I am a English-German-Polish-African-Cherokee-once straight now gay-American. How about you, what is your mix? Does it matter? As we enter the Obama generation, many are showing how brilliant they are in offering up criticisms before the fact, some are holding their breath hoping for the best, and some are actually taking up the new President’s challenge to “be the change we seek.”
 
Hope can be a dangerous drug. It can lead to waiting for someone or something to act, to dreaming instead of doing, and worst of all, for blaming others for the failures of life. When Obama speaks of hope, I hear the word “possibility.” One of the things I learned as a law student was to excise from my vocabulary the passive tense. That is the problem with hope not attached to action – it is passive.
 
Contained within the word “possibility” is the notion of an opening, a vacancy, a yet-to-be-edness that invites one to act, to come up with solutions and commitments that call one forth, not let one observe. Now that the expansive nature of the failures of our culture are beginning to dawn on the average American, our language needs to open new possibilities, not only criticisms of existing problems or people with power.
 
As President, Obama will be measured by how effectively he brings to bear the central message of his campaign – that it is the job of government to do what we as citizens cannot, but it is also the job of each of us to do what we can. It is not enough to criticize. It is not enough to act if that action does not bring about needed change. 
 
We must recover for ourselves that true American spirit of taking action in the face of adversity, of not giving up until we succeed, and of being generous with ourselves and each other as fellow humans, imperfect to the core, but good at heart. As they say in 12 step programs, if you do not find that this is the way it is today, fake it till you make it.
 
Yes it is clever to see a weakness in others, to see a looming failure and warn about it. But the age of the internet has given us the opportunity to perfect the art of being the critic. As the election of Barack Obama has demonstrated, the internet can also open new possibilities for acting in concert to achieve common goals.
 
Now is the time for Americans to act bravely, with conviction and compassion, with enlightened self interest and selflessly. That is the true genius of this great nation – it is the true patriotism.
 
If you can’t think of any other way you can contribute, try not criticizing anyone, including yourself, for one hour each day.  Find something to praise someone about, find a way to empower yourself and another person each day.  You may be amazed at how much that helps.

6 Responses to "Mutts like us can do it"

  1. claypigeonbx  January 18, 2009 at 6:03 pm

    Time to demonstrate the virtues of hybrid vigor!

    Freedom and Justice for All!

  2. SNAFUBAR  January 19, 2009 at 10:16 am

    Welsh-Irish-Lithuanian-Austrian-Jew checking in here. I always thought America’s strength lie in the genetic diversity of its citizenry. Places like New York, LA, Chicago, the melting pots of the US have been at the forefront of innovation b/c of the international populations they both create and draw. Hopefully we can draw on that diversity to propel us into an uncertain future fraught with issues like climate change and overpopulation, hunger and poverty.

  3. jharry  January 19, 2009 at 12:13 pm

    “Love thy neighbor, as you do yourself.” That works.

  4. Ladywolf55  January 19, 2009 at 10:28 pm

    Did anyone here give time to a community effort today as requested by the President-elect? Fortunately, one of the venues listed on his Community service website was a place I already donate time and effort to every Monday: A local Food bank distribution center which serves 26 counties surrounding the metro area. I usually am assigned to either sort food into categories, or repackage it for distribution. So my entire family donated our time today, even though my husband had surgery on Friday. He was at least able to sit and sort food, while I carted it off to the bins.

    I get extra benefit doing this work, besides the knowledge I’m helping to feed the hungry (Yes, the USA is chock-a-block FULL of hungry people, unable to afford food!). It’s also great strength training and exercise. It is really true that to give is to receive.

    Quite frankly, at the same time, I’m one of the breath-holders, waiting to see if the poor and middle class are the only ones asked/demanded to sacrifice, of if the wealthy will be required to as well, for a change. In the meantime, I will “Love thy neighbor as thyself.” It brings health benefits not just to my neighbors, but to me and mine.

  5. toggle  January 20, 2009 at 11:06 am

    Mutts unite!

    Irish-Scottish-Puerto Rican-African American mutt here.

    The key word being “American” – I’m pretty excited to see the next chapter of our country begin today – the road is going to be rough for a while, but I have hope we’ll emerge better for the bruises.

  6. DejaVuAllOver  January 22, 2009 at 9:46 pm

    Almost every country of Europe and maybe a few more-mutt here. I like your definition of the mindset required for us earthlings to crawl out of the hole we’ve dug. Now, if we can just kill the chosen-ones, saved-er ones, smarter-ones, richer-ones, whiter-ones etc. mentality that drives the megalomaniacs of the world, we’ll get somewhere. How to do that, I don’t know. But you may be onto something, Phil. I’ll leave it at that.

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