November 4 2008
President-Elect Barack Obama
Last night in Harlem thousands of people gathered to watch the election results on a huge screen in the street. Even early in the night, the joy and the feeling of connection among the people, of all hues and ages, was palpable. But even after Obama carried Ohio, and the TV commentators said it was inconceivable that McCain could win, the crowd was subdued, as if afraid to believe Dr. King's cherished dream could really come true.
Then at 11 pm when it was official – an eruption - with tears flowing and cheers resounding, expressing centuries of struggle and unspeakable suffering arriving to something good. All over the city people poured into the streets and created spontaneous parties. All over the world people were watching. In Kenya they declared a national holiday to honor their native son..
Obama himself is remarkable, a man of wisdom, grace and strength. But even more remarkable and moving is what is happening in and among people: the pride of African Americans, the joy of feeling the future open and the sense that the best in us -- our hopes, our sense of justice and truth, our compassion, our desire to connect with others, all of this -- has been released after being in hiding for so many years.
This election was important in so many ways: as a rejection of the politics of hate and division, as the arrival on the national scene of a new generation that is teaching their parents with a new sensibility and a new commitment, as living proof that one of our deepest values as a nation "that all men are created equal" is not a cruel hypocrisy after all..
And yet, with all of this, there also seems to be an understanding that now we need to roll up our sleeves and get to work. It won't be easy, but there is a new kind of energy moving and things seem possible..
Humanists first endorsed Barack Obama many months ago, before Super Tuesday, with these words:.
"We don't agree with Senator Obama on everything. But this is not the time to be purist at the risk of staying marginalized. It's a time to emphasize what we have in common, engage in open dialogue without hiding our differences, and support the chance to move in a very new direction at a moment of great urgency."
Since that time, the situation has only become more urgent. The threat of nuclear war is greater than at any time in our history. Our country is immersed in two simultaneous wars of occupation. The economic fiasco, driven by a greed of monstrous proportions, has robbed people of their future and shown how far we have to go towards a true democracy . Obama's victory is remarkable and it has created a wave of good will at home and around the world, but it doesn't erase the damage done in the last eight years. There is much work to do -- a work of reconciliation, of repairing great wrongs, and of building a just human future based on non-violence and the deep commitment to ensuring equal opportunities for each human being living together on this small and beautiful planet..
We have taken a great step forward. It's a first step. Let's continue the journey.
Lies and Space Shields