playing small

on the themes of the 2008 presidential election in the united states:

i'm bemused, but mostly dismayed by the viewpoint that inspiration is somehow for the weak-minded--those naively disconnected from reality, practical considerations. the very word hope is slung around accusatorily, raised eyebrows and upward-turned lips and all. it is insinuated that somehow, uplifting words and meaningful action are mutually exclusive; that the former cannot translate into the latter. that social policies and laws are enacted in a vacuum, void of the intentions and dreams that underlie them. we only need examine world history to know this certainly is not the case. i believe in the interconnectedness of things: as we believe privately, we act publicly; sooner or later, we become unable to separate these spheres. and perhaps it is those of us who mistaken cynicism for realism, who need the reality check.

to be fair, there are some of us who never quite make it beyond the words; our goals remain nebulous dreams, bitterly recalled as what might have been. this failure, though, cannot be blamed on hope. how could it be? at almost all times, we have a choice: to take real risks in the direction of our dreams, or remain playing small.


Carleen Brice said...

Beautifully put! I think this is one of the things I'm responding to with Obama's campaign: permission to hope and feel positive about what can be done instead of being overwhelmed with fear and disgust about the direction our country has taken in the last 8 years. If EVER we needed hope, now is the time!

My husband is a student of history and he has said for 7 years now that when America needs a leader, one appears. And I would always answer: "from where? where is he or she???" Obama's trajectory is not because those of us who believe in him are naive. It's because this nation has called him forth.

Lisa said...

Yes. Yes. Yes. I am a recent convert from cynicism to hope. I spent a long time believing that in order to make change come, some force from within the same broken system that's gotten us what we've got had to be put in place. More specifically, I thought that someone like Clinton was more equipped for getting into the mud and fighting dirty in order to force incremental change. I was afraid to believe that a leader with ideals could garner the kind of support that's necessary to make change. Olufunke, you helped me recognize the insanity of my negativity. You made me recognize that I ache for our generation's JFK, our MLK -- a leader who can unite our country and make us good again, make us great again. Thank you for helping me to have the courage to believe that Obama can be that man. I do believe. We are ready for a true leader who can unite us again. I feel a little like Saint Paul. :)

Ello said...

THoughtful post. People find it hard to hope anymore. Perhaps it is why people aren't willing to take risks anymore.

Wordsbody said...

Hi Olufunke,

I think it's interesting how you managed to write around the elections, in this post at least, without a single mention of the name: Hillary Clinton. Either in the body of the post or in the labels/tags. I have a lot of time for Hillary Clinton as it happens, if you'll permit me to say that. Not that it matters though, since I can't vote in the American elections.

Btw: what are you writing fiction wise? How about you send me a draft story of yours and I send you a draft story of mine? We cross-read/critique each other. Whaddaya think?


iyan and egusi soup: said...

hi molara,
lol--of course you can say that. my intention always is to focus on what i stand for. ;)

i'd love to talk more about cross-reading/critiquing. please email me, or leave your email here (in the past, i haven't been able to find it on your side).

looking forward!


Oh, my, where were you when we discussing revolutions 2 weeks ago? Your thoughts on this issue (hope/dreams) would have been instrumental.

We live in a world where the harshness of existence has beaten out the ability to think differently and apply one's self differently. Obama said recently that you can't get anything done if you keep doing things the same way. The sentiment struck a chord with me, not just for American politics, but the way that the underprivileged are treated everywhere.

Oh well, let me stop. I have this bad habit of leaving long comments everywhere. Thanks for this post.

iyan and egusi soup: said...

"We live in a world where the harshness of existence has beaten out the ability to think differently and apply one's self differently."

yes, i know what you mean by this. obstacles (and sometimes, practical considerations) keep people from taking the risks necessary to create the life they want. and you're right that when we do things the same way repeatedly and we're not getting results, we have to be willing to go in a different direction. of course change is frightening, and will be resisted--this seems to be the human way.

don't feel like you're rambling, solomonsydelle. your thoughts are welcomed here. from your other comment, it sounds like you and i are both political aficionados--i think today should be a national holiday in the states. ;)

Sustenance Scout said...

I keep thinking of the Dream Big song, and hoping it all comes true. Amazing that it seems we're so close all of a sudden though it's really been in the works for a long time. After the last election a politically savvy friend encouraged by a shift in the Colorado House consoled me with these simple words: "The pendulum swings again." Amen!

Ello said...

So how is the writing going? When am I going to read your book? You know I can't wait!

AlooFar said...

Hi Iyan ;)

Do you have a grandstanding on OBAMA's bid? I "ctrl-efd" Clinton on your blog... no entry at all. Have you got anything to say to that?

How are you?

iyan and egusi soup: said...

hi ello, writing is *going*. :)

hi aloofar, i'm not sure i understand what you mean by "grandstanding on obama's bid". yes, i do have a great deal to say about many things, some of which i do and do not discuss on this blog. if i'm moved to discuss clinton's or obama's candidacy in a way that serves the intention of the blog, i certainly will.

and i'm doing well; thank you for asking. :)