Sunday, 9 November 2008

Change or a Shift?

“Americans vote for Change” is the headline since Barack Obama made history last week. Which got me thinking. Just in my lifetime I have seen the arrival of the internet and mobile phones (even my ten year old has one), of a female Prime Minister in Britain (although I would like to distance myself from that “achievement”!) of a War on Terror and so called “global threats”. I have seen the IRA murder innocents in my country and I have seen too the conflict in Northern Ireland come to rest. My former flat mate used to keep a crumbling piece of the Berlin Wall in his bedside table and I have my own wonderful memory of myself, heavily pregnant, queuing in Trafalgar Square outside the South African Embassy together with the voters who delivered the first black President of South Africa (hahaha - my former father-in-law had said “thet will never hapin”).

But on a minute level change is a part of life, part of every moment. When I look out of the window across the road to the public house and the trees beyond glowing orange in the autumn sunshine, I do not see a static, dead world. I see a world where leaves are growing (or falling), grass is moving, wind and elements eroding paint from the pub wall, the car parked on the drive is very slowly corroding, and Steve, the pub landlord is becoming older (whether he likes it or not).

Life is a fluid thing, and how we are influenced and what we believe as we go through life changes along the way. I used to not like olives, I used to think the military was quite sexy, I used to only wear black, I used to be pretty intolerant of religion. What interests me is not change, but a global shift of consciousness – which is what I think this Obama fellow is all about.

Change is inevitable. It is The Shift which is remarkable. So be part of it.


Carl said...

I think you've captured the gist of things quite nicely here. It isn't the change that is important, it's the overall shift of awareness that we can make a better society.

History may prove Obama to be just another politician,but the fact that Americans have shifted their perception to such an degree they have elected an African-American to the presidency is remarkable.

I was brought up in South Africa, during the Apartheid days, and it was easy to put your head in the sand and say it will never happen here, but when you look for the subtle shifts, everything becomes quite clear.

I still worry a lot about the future of the US, especially when people like Palin become heroes to some of the masses, or when they vote for amendments like proposition 8, but maybe we can hope the shifts will also change that.

Caroline Jaine said...

Thanks Carl - as eloquent as ever. See I have listed you as a favourite. It's been a while - I have been busy!

Dougist said...

I think that there will certainly be a change in tone because of the election, and it has global ramifications.

I wrote about the idea of The End of Cynicism

Similar to you thoughts here thoughts here, mine are a bit more from the perspective of a "thunderclap" that I think is rocking the halls of the "institutions of voice" right now and it's impact.


Mark said...

Obama's election definitely represents a change of generations and a shift in the electoral landscape of the US, but there is still the usual assortment of real world problems to deal with, and the available tools and political choices are going to disappoint those looking for a complete departure from the past. Hard-nosed diplomacy, military force, and unjust economic relationships are not going to disappear. But the tone will change. We will have a president who has lived in other parts of the world, and one who seems to understand the reality of soft power as well as the role of pubic diplomacy, and one who has a sense of economic injustice, even as he has good political sense vis-à-vis what is possible.

Ruinous Right said...

Wonderful post Caroline. It's an exciting time.

Monkey Suit said...

If you live in the US you know that this doesn't mark the beginning of change nor is it the change Obama is talking about. Obama is speaking of political change and not racial change. The US has been a very diverse country for many years now and racial hatred and discrimination have lessened with everyday. It is interesting to see how other countries see us but we are not as separate as maybe portrayed. With that said Obama becoming the President is a very significant event.

caroline said...

@monkey. nothing is separate - leaast of all the states, but perception is as relevant as reality.