Saturday, October 25, 2008

Rekindling Relationships

I'm not a particularly friendly person.

I think I've made this observation previously in this space. Friendly people seek out other human beings and love interacting with them, I tend to prefer my own company. I can be jovial and humorous, but these things don't come naturally to me the way they do with other people.

Much of this is due to the fact that I tend to be distrustful of new people. Dishonesty and small mindedness are traits far too many people seem to possess. The world can be a dangerous place, and it just seems safer to create barriers that prevent people from establishing close relationships with me.

In a lot of ways, I'm very similar to America.

Sure, America has this reputation of attracting the world's dreamers, welcoming them to her shores and giving them a chance at fulfilling their hearts' desires. It's a wonderful story that has some truth in it. Very few countries have allowed the sort of open immigration America has allowed in its past, and few countries allow their residents to go from poverty to wealth as often as America does. These are the facts.

But, there is another side of America. We call this country a melting pot, and that's accurate. Only the force that causes things to melt and meld together isn't love and acceptance, but the fierce fire of conformity. When you come to America, we expect you to become American. And being American means believing this is the best place in the world and that whatever America does is probably right.

Dem's the rules.

Not only do we demand this loyalty from people coming to this country, but when Americans go abroad and when our country deals with other nations we project this mindset. America is might and America is right. We set the rules, we set the agenda we are the world's only true superpower.

Naturally, through the years, this type of mentality has strained relationships with other countries, and in recent years things have reached a breaking point. In many developed and undeveloped countries America is seen not as a beacon of hope, but as a dark cloud of oppression and dominance. Sure we make life better in many parts of the world, but we do so strictly because it makes our lives better and we make sure people know this. I'm not judging this country, that's how most people behave in general, but I think it's key to understand what people think of us in other countries.

I read this article and it discussed how an Obama presidency might change this state of affairs. Obama is not the Messiah and for the most part he will look out for American interests in much the same ways as those who have come before him. But, as is true in so many other instances, just by Obama's existence he does more for America's image than billions of dollars in aid or hundreds of fighter planes.

It's amazing how symbols affect our lives. Little things, things that don't really have any tangible value, can mean so much to us. An old cross passed down through generations is a symbol of God's endurance, a weathered wind chime could represent the sound of spring. A black American president.

For much of the world, Obama would be proof that America has decided to return to its stated ideals of equality and justice for all. Even if the reality would be much more complicated, the symbolism would still have value. I find that heartening. I'm really feeling optimistic. Not because I think Obama will be so wonderful, but because I think he might inspire some other people to be wonderful.

Yep, I'm getting high on hope again.



truth said...

Big Man,
I'm not the most trusting guy myself. To me, most people seem to be more concerned with their own bottom line opposed to the greater good.

One thing we can do as adults is hold people accountable for their actions. When we are wronged, let folk know what they did was not acceptable. The same rule holds true for this country. If we feel wronged by this country, then we have the constitutional right to say our peace.

WNG said...

I'm feeling optimistic too, Big Man. Especially when I read about Obama's ideas to expand the Peace Corps, Ameri Corps and to trade community service for college scholarships.

I believe that action works and I believe that he might be able to not only inspire people but also create and expand programs for them to work with once they are inspired.

OG, The Original Glamazon said...

Yes, he isn't the messiah but I agree he is inspiration and not just to black folks his mere presence changes the game and the mind set of all those who see him as America's representative.

Its like how I feel about interviewing high school kids who wish to attend my Alma Mater. I love to interview black kids( which is few and far between) but what I think really makes an impact when I a black woman interview non-blacks. It gives a school associated with white male privilege a new face. Those students look at me as the face of the university as a representation and to me I think that may be more powerful than inspire a young black girl.

I feel you hope springs eternal!


Somebodies Friend said...

The beginning of this post rung true for me when you stated "I tend to prefer my own company. I can be Jovial and humorous, but these things don't come naturally to me the way they do with other people." And this is due to how I have been raised and treated by others.

I have felt like I am in the void the last six months and it really has also affected my social skills, and my way of interacting with people.

I also agree the am Obama win will go a long way towards changing attitudes about the opression in this country, both from people within and from outside our country. I believe an Obama win will change the direction and attitudes towards our country permanently.

Raving Black Lunatic