Last Christmas, I read Barack Obama’s memoirs: Dreams of my father – an autobiographical narrative about his life growing up in the U.S., trying to make sense of his identity as the child of a black Kenyan father and white mother from Wichita, Kansas.
Reading about his experiences as a community organiser in Chicago helped me to question my own contributions, and gave me a deeper sense of what it means to be a global citizen.
This morning, I watched his speech with a lump in my throat. He seemed to be speaking to me when he said, ‘To all those watching beyond our shores: Our stories are singular but our destiny is shared.’ I don’t think we realise just what the implications are of this victory – not just for America, but for the world.
I listened to Talk Radio 702 this morning and heard John Robbie asking whether we were all being too hopeful about the change that can come from this one man. But when I look at the Obama website and recognise how much his campaign was about getting people to really understand how they needed to stand up and take action as a community with a common purpose in order to make the change they want to see in the world really happen, I know that even after the victory celebrations are over, America will be a more active, more engaged, more hopeful place. And that is what will make the difference.
His acceptance speech echoed this. He talked about the tremendous work that still needs to be done and how ‘a new spirit of service, a new spirit of sacrifice’ is the only thing that will make the long road ahead victorious. I really, really hope that there continues after this election to be a focus on community collaboration and action. I, for one, will be making my own contribution where I can. And perhaps I will say to my children: ‘you know, when Obama won the election, I wasn’t even allowed to vote!’