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The Chance to Make Change

5 November 2008 7 Comments

Commentary by Molly Mayfield Barbee

It’s finally here—the day after the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November, 2008. The world has been watching the buildup to this election day, and now we can finally say that Barack Obama will be the 44th President of the United States.

This longest, and most expensive, presidential campaign ever had stakeholders all over the globe. Newsweek and the BBC called it the World’s Election. Al Jazeera developed one of their signature photo montages with a dramatic soundtrack to provide its viewers with regular updates. From Germany to Japan, Australia to Albania, (and, of course, Kenya), it seems we’ve all been virtually glued to our screens as the more than 19-month-long journey finally reached its conclusion. (Interestingly, Latin America stands out as a region that claims indifference to this past Tuesday’s decision.)

The Economist created a global electoral college to see who would win if all those international stakeholders had a vote. But they don’t—at least not in this election. Campaign ’08 in the United States was watched by all, and then decided by some. But each person in our global community does have a voice. And this November, the voices of the world were heard!

So what does this decision mean for all of us? Sure, the United States just elected Barack Obama to lead the country out of a period dominated by the Bush Doctrine and into years of hope, engagement, and unity. Yet in spite of his charisma, inspiring rhetoric, and wisdom, the real power for making change in this next term lies with the people. And not just the people of the United States of America, but all people: everyone who recognizes the importance of gathering, organizing, and joining together in a cause. I was just in Kenya, (where people are feeling particular pride today), and I heard this traditional saying many times: “When you take a bamboo stick by itself, you can easily snap it over your knee. But when you bind two, or three, or ten together, then you will find it very difficult to break them.”

This is what is so exciting about today, the day after election day, for me. (Well, that and the cool tools that made it possible for people around the world to connect live all at the same moment: was beamed via hologram into the CNN studios for an interview as the votes were being counted, several international news stations ran live video feed from Kogelo, and here in Khartoum we received emails, sms messages, and mobile phonecalls from remote areas of Darfur, from Pakistan, and from friends and family around the world—just minutes after President-elect Obama finished his acceptance speech. Talk about feeling bound together!

But the point here is: Your choice matters. In fact in these times it makes all the difference. This election is not the end. It does not bring about the change we seek, but it does give us the chance to make that change.

We want peace, and we’re the ones who have to make it happen. We choose the words that give our values and ideals meaning. We choose the people who best represent our views. And we choose the actions we take to build a better world: block by block, brick by brick, calloused hand by calloused hand, Peace X Peace.

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7 Comments to “The Chance to Make Change”
  1. Brett says:

    Horay Palin didn’t get close to leading [or helping to lead] the country!

  2. maryll says:

    This is terrific, Molly.


  3. Paddy McLaughlin says:

    The magic in the election of Barack Obama as President of the United States is not in that he is a black man, awesome as that is, but that he is the spokesman for the evolution of consciousness on planet earth. He is our personal story of how people choose a new life path, leaving behind old values and beliefs, picking and choosing their way to a new kind of life. He speaks what we know in our hearts; that we are One and that in order to save our planet we must work together from our highest wisdom Self. The ancient thought form of ‘mine not yours’ is no longer viable, nor has it ever been. The language of fear has no place or time in a world posed on the delicate balance of ‘make or break’. We, in large numbers, have now chosen the opportunity ‘to make’. Systems theory helps us understand that none of us can fully see the culture that is emerging. It’s a process. It’s a birth. And we have to work together to get from here to there. What we do know, and from here it is where we start, is that the new ‘buzz’ words for our future are care, compassion, nurture, kindness, generosity, inclusion, listen, share, heal, and beauty. We know that strength no longer comes from ‘power over’ but ‘power with’. We are moving from a dominator society to a partnership society. We are not celebrating a new ‘savior’ but that each of us is a perfect and important piece to the puzzle of our Now and the future of the next seven generations. Peace will prevail.
    Paddy McLaughlin
    Executive Peacemaker, North Dakota Peace Coalition
    710 12th St. N.
    Fargo, ND 58102

  4. Joellen says:

    Now we have an opportunity. We must be committed to be involved in the “Change we need”.

  5. Christine Namawejje says:

    Truely, its a chance to make a change.This has to be done together. With cooperation from all over the world not USA only. And its a process.It will not just happen immedialtely lets say in the first month of Obama in office. But this is a process and which will lead us to the change we are looking forward to; to peace.

  6. Jennifer says:

    The following is a piece of the email message I sent out to my family after Barack Obama gave his acceptance speech for President. My family, like many others across America – I suspect, had differing opinions and different boxes were check in the voting booth. But nonetheless… I felt it was my responsibility to be sure I was reaching out to build bridges, not let disappoint or even over-whelming glee create an un-necessary wall of difference:

    Its been a long time that I felt excited to be an American… a long time. I talked to my dear best friend Martha today, from Louisiana – a southern girl at heart – and she said to me she was bursting to play Lee Greenwood as loud as possible on her car speakers as she drove home from voting and all morning Wednesday listening to the results of the election.

    While I know not all of us agreed on the candidate, I think we can all agree that it is pretty wonderful and something to be proud of that America is a country that makes the American Dream still possible; that continues to be the first to break glass ceilings; that is looking forward rather than backwards. I think President-elect Obama’s words about each American stepping up, taking responsibility are words we can all think about in our own time, in our own quiet moment to consider “what is my responsibility” as an American to my family, my neighbors, my community, my state, my country, our region and our world? What is my responsibility for myself, to my children/nieces/nephews/grandchildren or even great-grandchildren?” We may not have all voted for President-elect Obama, but he is the direction more than a simple majority of the American public wanted us to go – and that direction was not big government, not far left, but different, change, BETTER and RESPONSIBLE.

    - Jen

  7. Aisha Mustafa Mohamed says:

    It is a world historic Day that of last Tuesday.The world almost lost a model of dynamic democacy , now restored in the USA elections.It is for all nations, countries and leaders to learn and take example of.

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