Last Night the nation paused to listen to President Barack Obama’s State of the Union Address. This address comes just after the one year mark since President Obama took office in 2009. The President opened with broad statements about America ‘s courage being tested and how government must embody the strength and decency of its people. President Obama is such a good speaker, it is sometimes easy to ignore the meat and potatoes and fall into the trance of hopeful and unifying rhetoric. Don’t get me wrong, Pres. Obama did a great job at presenting some hopeful thoughts, but i’ll leave the formal analysis to the political journalists.
However, lets take this opportunity to reflect on the past year and the President’s progress and reflect on what it means for us. The debate on whether or not President Obama has had a successful first year or not has been the hot topic conversation with several of my friends. Perhaps my circle needs to be diversified, but we have all come to the same conclusions; 1. The people’s expectations for his Presidency were set incredibly too high, 2. President Obama set his own bar at an almost unreachable height, 3. President Obama has had almost zero support from a majority Democratic Congress, 4. President Obama has taken too soft of an approach on the initiatives and policy goals he set for himself pre-election, 5. People’s understanding of the political process was jaded by images of a new day in Washington immediately after Obama took office.
Despite the President’s shortcomings, Congress’ shortcomings, and bloated expectations, I suggest that now like never before is the time for people to take action into their own hands. The powerful campaign that then Senator Obama ran was one that inspired thousands even millions to mobilize in support of a his campaign. However since he was elected, it’s like everyone assumed that “Barack the Magic Negro” (as right wing radio hosts put it) would save the world with the raising of his right hand and the uttering of the Presidential oath.
If we really want change lets not pour all of our hope into a single person, lets put our hope in the thousands who were able to plan, organize, and mobilize to get that figure elected…OURSELVES…GET INVOLVED! When I say get involved, I am not saying just go out and adopt a little brother for the weekends…DO MORE. Meet with your neighbors, discuss the concerns of yours and surrounding communities, and take strategic action to address these concerns. Whether you organize yourselves to petition your city council, organize to start a community garden because your local grocery store doesn’t provide fresh and sustainable produce, or simply to start a neighborhood watch program, it is important that we, in our various communities come together to ensure our issues are addressed.
Before we get upset with the fact that Obama didn’t bring everyone a new Job immediately, or that healthcare isn’t yet available to everyone, ask yourself honestly “how much have I done?”. Look inward…have you written/called/email/visited your House Rep/Senator? Have you gathered and organized to ensure that your representatives are representing you and supporting the changes you want?
I beg of you, empower yourself with the necessary KNOWLEDGE and tools to effect change in your community. Become familiar with your local elected officials. Learn the processes by which changes occur where your reside. Keep track of what is going on in the world around you through primary sources, not second hand knowledge from friends or even the news. Find out whats going on for your self and work from there. Engage with your friends and family about what you learn…
President Obama’s speech was most definitely inspiring, but don’t think of it as a map for what he will do, but as a means to Power Your Imagination and to do more on your own….
KNOWLEDGE followed by action is Power folks…