Thursday, November 13, 2008

"Fundamental Change"

I have been reading in several places recently essays and writings by people who wonder what Barack Obama meant by saying that he was going to preside over "Fundamental Change." I can't figure out exactly what tone the people are using with that question: suspicion? fear? disgust? contempt? The writers often seem to think that "fundamental change" means somehow the dismantling of democracy.

Here is what I think "fundamental change" means.

I think fundamental change means means a shift to empowering citizens to participate in our democracy. I hope it means calling us to speak, and act upon our values, instead of simply being asked to "go shopping." I hope it means calling us to vote, but even more, to organize for the things we value: whether those things are health care, advocacy for children, equal access to education. I hope that fundamental change means empowering a grass-roots, bottom-up democratic republic. I hope that fundamental change means teaching civics and citizenship. And I hope that fundamental change means valuing both personal responsibility and a more just society.

The weekend before the election, I watched Rev. Al Sharpton and D.L Hughley on CNN. They were talking with real wonder in their voices about the possibility that an African American might really become president. It was as if a door had been opened, not only for one man, but for a people, and the name of the door was "Full Participation." Rev. Sharpton said, at one point, that now was "the time to step up, to take responsibility, to take leadership, to prove that we can do it."

I thought, if this is what Barack Obama means by "fundamental change", it truly is not about him.

It's about us: our voices, our leadership, our power, and our resonsibility.

He may be the President-elect, but he is still a human being. When he is right, we will need to support him. When he is wrong, we will need to call him to account.

It's the same in the community of the church. The church is not primarily an institution, but a body of people committed to a common mission. We're grass-roots, bottom-up servants and leaders, supporting each other and holding each other accountable to the truth.


Lori said...

Right on, Diane!

Fran said...

I love this post.

As for church, it is not a building or an institution... It is us, the people, we are it. Ekklesia - the assembly.

And we must lift, hold, support and challenge one another to truth indeed.

Fixity and faith are hard to reconcile. If change is always perceived as threatening, where is the faith in that?

I say this, but trust me, I have a hard time living it.

The change that Obama represents is broad and sweeping and may it more often be for the broader good. I for one, tend to think it will be.

Jennifer said...

What you said.
That's what I think.

LoieJ said...

I like what you wrote and I hope we do move in that direction. It is hard for a president to even keep his close employees in line, much less the whole country, but that is why the president needs to be one who inspires. And that is why I had a hard time accepting the McCain I saw during the campaign as compared to the "other" McCain.

Do you think/know if the candidates have position papers somewhere that define their terms or are we just supposed to think warm fuzzy thoughts when we hear certain words?

I'm thinking that Obama has led so many of us to have wonderful high expectations so that he is bound to disappoint.

Diane M. Roth said...

PS -- I agree with you. He is bound to disappoint.

His (BO's) website had very specific positions on a lot of issues, when he was running. Now I don't know if you can get into that any more or now. Anyone?

Fundamentally though, I'm not sure if it's so much about a particular issue,but a way of governing which is responsive to and also calls upon the people.

Not that issues aren't important, too.

We'll see....

Ruth Hull Chatlien said...

That's the kind of change I'd like to see happen too, and I do think it is part of what Pres-Elect Obama wants.

Terri said...

yes indeed! Amen amen....

Rev SS said...

Amen. Obama uses "we" when he talks ... he knows he won't be changing anything by himself. And, I hope fundamental change includes higher ethics in business and government

Anonymous said...

It's a challenge--change is hard for many people--but I haven't seen this much hope in a long while.

Missy said...

Very well said.

I think the fear many have will dissipate with time.

I wonder what will replace it?