Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Why Have You Failed Us, Barack Obama?

Why was Barack Obama elected president of the United States of America?

You could make a pretty decent argument that it was because, as a collective whole, we blatantly and wholeheartedly embraced ignorance over truth, servitude over personal responsibility, and sweet nothings whispered into our ear during a whirlwind romance over solid foundations of earned trust and understanding.

But that only explains what we did and not really why. I strongly believe that our actual motivation was the exact concept that the Obama campaign utilized so very well:

Hope.

We hoped for a savior. We craved a savior. We saw wrongs and wanted them made right, whether we created the problematic situations in the first place or not.

It’s difficult to criticize that motivation in its basest form. It is, after all, a common human craving. And in order to feed that desire, we either try to become the savior in question or we look to somebody else to do it.

It seemed that the majority of us chose the latter option in 2008.

Regardless, both more often than not fail miserably. Why? Because whether we choose ourselves or another fellow human being, something inevitably goes wrong. And sometimes, something goes very, very, very wrong.

I’m actually not trying to bring “religion” into this post, though I easily could if I wanted to. Unfortunately though, you don’t have to believe in a higher power to recognize that humans are horribly fallible. Look at any hero of the past… they all had their Achilles’ Heel and they all screwed up in some way.

Yet we too often persist in nominating ourselves or our fellow mortals as gods, such as was the case with Obama. Elevating himself to levels he had no business reaching for, he “promised” hope and change. And too many of us believed him, as evidenced by paraphernalia, votes and continuing trust across the country.

One particularly telling example I saw in a gift shop just outside of the Acadia National Park in Maine read, “It isn’t a god complex if he really does save the world.” And yes, it had a picture of Obama on it.

Much more profound, however, is what John Feal – one of the thousands who worked at The Pile leftover from the Trade Center buildings and the head of the Fealgood Foundation – recently wrote to Obama after he made his recent mosque comments:

“Why have you failed us? We thought you would be our champion.”

He thought that Obama should be concentrating on completely different matters than giving his approval or disapproval to a single building. And really, he has a point in that. But his raw words illustrate a completely different truth as well.

It’s tragically foolish to put your faith in any human being, regardless of their expressed or actual good intentions. Because they will fail you… especially if they are a politician.

Instead, maybe we should try trusting a bit less and actually checking facts a bit more.

Will we screw up from time to time ourselves? Yes, of course. We’re human too. But let’s be honest here… I’m not really sure that we can mess things up much worse than they already are or very soon about to be.

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