Did anyone catch the coverage of Barack Obama’s visit to Canada? Who am I kidding, how could you miss it? According to some polls, Obama’s approval rating is 80% here in Canada. What is it about the man that so captures the imagination of so many? I’d suggest it’s one word: change. Whether or not he can deliver on that promise is another matter entirely; what is clear, however, is that both here in Canada, south of the border, and, I would argue, around the world, people are waking up to the fact that “the same old, same old” just doesn’t cut it anymore. There is a deeper knowing, longing inside humankind that is crying out for a significant change to the ways things are…to the way things ought to be.
So how ought it be, exactly? And, can we get there by putting our faith in others (be they men or gods)? Well let’s put it this way, humankind has been putting its faith in men and gods for over 5000 years of civilization and look where it’s gotten us. Herein lies the terrible tragedy of all this excitement and exaltation of Barack Obama. Yes, Obama is a dynamic, charismatic, and stately speaker. So far he has shown great poise and level-headed leadership. Surely these are hallmarks of a man worthy of our trust and faith? But he is, at the end of the day, just a man…a human being like any other. No one person is going to save the world from its collision course with destiny (5000+ years of accumulated debts).
What is it about change that really resonates with people in this day and age? Is it simply the fact that people are bored with the way things are (and the way they’ve been)? Or is it something more, something deeper? Could it be that within each and every one of us there is a consciousness that is asleep? Could it be that we have a consciousness trapped by a world of inequity and suffering, the world of the ego, that stirs only at the prospect of emerging from its cocoon into the light of a new world?
If so, what is the process by which this transformation and rebirth takes place? Is it a physical process? Is it a process that will be conducted on our behalf by some political or spiritual leader? Is it a matter of faith in some external authority, power, god, or man? Is it a question of belief, or is it a matter of practical action? These are difficult questions to wrap your mind around, and the answers are probably even harder to swallow. But chew on them you must, however long it takes, if you hope to supplant blind faith and naïve hope with real knowledge and experience.
In the meantime, think well of President Barack Obama; wish him good luck in all his challenges and endeavors (as do I), and hope that he conducts his Presidency with the utmost care, dignity, and respect as is worthy of the people he leads, and the promise he represents. But do not put the fate of your own personal happiness in Mr. Obama’s hands. It is fair neither to him nor to you. No man deserves to be laden with such a burden. Your life, your soul, is in your keeping. If Obama’s words inspire you to think, feel, speak, and act in a way that ushers in positive changes longed for so deeply within yourself, then you in fact become an agent of change itself.
So that may be it: Obama’s appeal may simply be the fact that he is an inspirational leader: a leader who challenges us to look within and aspire to awaken the greatness within ourselves for the greater good of our family, community, country, and the world. How else can a leader cultivate greatness?
In other words, to all those who are expecting Mr. Obama to “change things” and/or do all the work,” you are setting yourself up for a huge disappointment. We can choose to see Barack Obama and other leaders as inspirational or not, but make no mistake: we all are our own agents of change, and no person, no matter how famous, powerful, charismatic, “holy,” or well-connected can do for us that which we must ultimately do for ourselves.