Thursday, January 29, 2009

He's Not the Change: We Are

From D.C. The Inauguration

It's been a while since I've written here, but not for lack of desire.  I've actually managed to curb my compulsion, mostly because I've simply been too busy to indulge myself as I have so often in the past weeks.  Both Gentle Readers will appreciate the silence, I am sure, knowing that a flood of words is to follow any extended--more than a day--absence from this journal.

I have been thinking a lot about the experience of being in Washington D.C., of being with my brother, and most of all, of the personal consequences of the changes we are seeing in the government on an almost daily basis, it seems.

Being in the Nation's Capital, with all the museums, monuments and memorials literally overflowing with unique and precious objects around us had a significant influence on me, though I didn't realize it at first.  Touring the Air & Space Museum, it hit me, though.  I came to regard this place and these things as part of my inheritance.  In the National Gallery, I was surprised to see someone take a photograph of a painting, so I asked if it was all right and sure enough, not only is the entrance to the museum--almost all D.C. museums, in fact--free, but we are also allowed to take as many photographs as we like.  Not that I have any desire to actually take pictures of the art itself, but it was interesting to photograph the people and the art together.  If you haven't already seen the photo gallery, here is the link.

Being with my brother, David, added another unexpected dimension to our experience.  I've already written about his performance in the play and how I saw therein another side to his personality, but what I haven't mentioned is how well he took care of us during our visit.  It's the unfortunate duty of people who live in big cities to act as tour guides to their guests.  This obligation is compounded by the fact that a free place to stay in a popular destination is an understandably big factor in the way those guests make their plans.  Consequently, those 'big-city' folks who can and do pull off being tour guides time and time again make it look easy, as if this was a natural part of their daily lives.  And, in a way, it is.  For some folks, anyway, and I am pleased and proud to count David and David among them.  They really, genuinely enjoyed touring us around, explaining the Metro, turning the map right side up (again) and giving us good advice on everything from where to eat, what to see and what to save till next time.  Ironically, they were such good hosts, there will definitely be a next time!

It was, however, the experience of being on the street as President Obama took his Oath, being with all the people from all over the country at the very moment when we were reborn, called out to commit again to the promises and ideals that made this country great and have for so long been suppressed in the name of 'National Security'.  Hey, we Americans are big kids now.  We can have both security and ideals.  Neither will be perfect, but please, let's promise each other not to let this choice be presented to us again.  Now that we have again acknowledged that we can be free and fair at the same time, let us here commit ourselves to keeping it this way.

One of the most frequent things I've heard said since the Inauguration is something like, "Well, I just hope he can do X% of what he's promising."  To a certain extent, I agree with this sentiment.  I too hope he can accomplish a lot, and I too hope it will happen sooner, rather than later.  However, even though it is simply common sense to acknowledge that he, Mr. Obama, cannot "do it alone", I think it here worth saying that we--as a collective people--have yet to understand what he is and has been saying to us all along.  

He is not the change.  We are.  It is up to each one of us, as individuals, to look around us, find something that needs doing, something that needs fixing, someone who needs help, and do it.  The burden is not only not exclusively on Mr. Obama, it is not even exclusively any single one of our burdens.  How easy it is to lift a heavy load when many hands are present is something we need to recall in a moment when a great deal of heavy lifting is called for.

To all readers of this journal, therefore, I issue the challenge personally.  In this new year, this year of change, find something you can help with, find someone who needs your help and do it.  In the restaurant business, when something happens that requires the staff to make a big change (see Dinner for Fifty, Please) this is eaxctly what we do. Each person looks around, see what needs doing, and if no one else is doing it, then that is what they do. In this way, everything gets done and no one has to do it all. In fact, we can't do it any other way.

So here what I propose: Commit a certain part of each week--perhaps the same day, perhaps just a certain number of hours per week, no matter--to a cause, hopefully one that benefits someone, somewhere as directly as possible.  If each one of us finds a place and time to volunteer even a small part of our time and energy in this year, and the next and every year after, we will see change.

Let's commit to each other, to a new year, a new life: You there!  Be the change.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Excellent! one of your readers thinks you're on the right track!!

d2 said...

Of course, it was easy being hosts to two such mellow and willing guests. Anytime!

So, have I done my bit then for 2009? :)

Greyghost said...

You're welcome. And, erm, no, there's much to be done. ;^)