Saturday, November 08, 2008

Thinking About Obama Part 1

I think I'll just dribble these thoughts out over time as I get back into the swing of tending the blog. The election seems to have paralyzed me as a blogger, making me simultaneously timid (because others seemed to have so much to say and said it so well) and superstitious (I am the most important person in the universe and God probably has it in for me so I better lie low).

But now Obama is president, God either favoring me (hah!) or ignoring me (more likely) or not being there at all (you knew that was coming). So how do I feel about it?

More relief than exultation, though I was exalted in the moment. It's all probability, you know, and probability has now moved in our favor because Obama is probably brighter, better informed and more deft in governing than McCain. I would say the probability is pretty damned high. That guarantees nothing in difficult times. But it makes it more likely our future will be better rather than worse.

And what of the fact of a black man becoming president?

* Is it a leading indicator, the first fruit of an ever-improving racial landscape in this country, that progress gathering momentum every day?

* Is it a signpost, a marker that tells us we have come a long way, but we should remember that we have a long way to go?

* Is it a trailing indicator, something that tells us that progress has come just this far and no further and who knows how much farther it may go? That is, if Obama were not black he would have won by far more, and even may be sui generis. This is perhaps the least optimistic way of looking at it, that we should look at all the contingencies that had to align for it to happen and be careful in claiming the scope of the change, that it is inevitable, that it will continue, that it is the way the world works and that work is forward.

I think I prefer the idea of the signpost, the notion -- which the wise ones reject (see my lovely footnote below) -- of steady plodding progress.

Well. More to come.

My lovely footnote:

From: Full House: The Spread of Excellence from Plato to Darwin. N.Y.: Harmony Books, 1996. P. 197. (c)1996, Stephen Jay Gould.

"The outstanding [misunderstanding of evolutionary theory] is clearly the equation of evolution with progress. People believe that evolution is a process that moves creatures toward greater complexity through time. This makes our very late appearance in the history of the Earth a sensible outcome. The word evolution means progress, but for Darwin, evolution is adaptation to changing local environments, which are randomly moving through time. There is no principle of general advance in that."

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1 comment:

Amber said...

I shuddered as I saw someone (a white man) on TV saying that Obama's election shows that anybody in America can make it if they just work hard enough - there are no longer any excuses.

Apparently racism and poverty no longer exist, and the American Dream will come true for everyone!

This is what I get for watching "Great Day Houston."