Editor's Choice Archive 1

Do We Expect Too Much?


By Patricia Keegan

At a time when our country is going through an unprecedented transformation with a myriad of challenges converging simultaneously, Barack Obama’s time has come. Can he lead us back from the abyss?

For over two decades global financial problems have been building, caused by abdication of responsibility, lack of foresight and uncontrollable avarice.

Our expectations for President Obama may prove to be beyond reason, yet we see in him the potential of a steady leader, with a strong core and a sensitivity to the predicament of millions of Americans striving to keep their heads above water. Not only is Obama faced with domestic problems unraveling on a daily basis, but also with unpredictable international challenges. As of today, he is inheriting two wars, a violent clash between Israelis and Palestinians, and an ominous list of brewing confrontations. We have no idea what lies ahead and little control over the outcome. Whatever happens, from the start, we as Americans need to be united in faith behind our new leadership and in our ability to harness the courage to meet the demands ahead. The results of the last Presidential election is the evidence of a hunger for change. The change we were all hoping for may be deeper and more painful than first imagined in campaign slogans.

Obama’s skill in running his campaign, and in selecting an experienced, talented cabinet, speaks to his strong leadership skills. If he can provide inspiration, integrity, and practical solutions to our economic problems, there is a strong chance our country will come through this gracefully.

In the planned stimulus package set for Day 1, by first taking care of the most vulnerable, those in danger of losing basic needs -- including food, clothing and shelter -- he can secure the vitally important lowest rung of the economic ladder. For most Americans love of country comes directly after love of family, and we have been through an agonizing time seeing our country’s values distorted. We watched as the Executive Branch strayed from the principles of government set forth in our Constitution, and we engaged in a pre-emptive war based on false information. What stands before us now is the specter of a country we know, but barely recognize. Four years from now, when we look back on our country, how different will we be as a nation?

I believe this change represents a desire to get to the core, the truth, of what America stands for, not only to its own citizens but to a world who looks to us for leadership, justice and compassion . Hopefully, the combination of a new administration and unprecedented hardships will bring a cleansing of soul, leading to a country firmly positioned on a strong, spiritual foundation.

I recently read a prophetic speech made by the late Alexander Solzhenitsyn at Harvard University in 1975 in which he both praised and criticized America. Much of what he says applies today. He talked about the fight for our planet as both physical and spiritual, describing it as a fight of cosmic proportions which is already upon us. He asks how the West declined from its triumphal march to its present sickness. He believed that anthropocentricity was the prevailing Western view of the world, meaning a humanistic autonomy, unlinked to any higher force from above, seeing man himself as the center of everything that exists. From an historical perspective, he says that while the Renaissance through the present has enriched our experience, we have lost the concept of a Supreme Complete Entity which used to restrain our passions and our irresponsibility.

Solzhenitsyn concluded his speech with the following.

“If the world has not come to an end, it has approached a major turn in history, equal in importance to the turn from the middle ages to the Renaissance. It will exact from us a spiritual upsurge, we shall have to rise to a new height of vision, to a new level of life where our physical nature will not be cursed as in the Middle ages, but even more importantly, our spiritual being will not be trampled on as in the Modern era. The ascension will be similar to climbing onto the next anthropologic stage. No one on earth has any other way but -- upward.

Now in the early stages of the 21st century, before the end of the first decade and in the midst of looming chaos, we have an inspiring, new leader in Barack Obama, who has come to turn the page to a new chapter in our history. In guiding us through this change, he has to be a statesman, head and shoulders above the rest. He has to be wise, he has to be disciplined, and he has to be a healer. In helping him deal with the enormity of the task, it is comforting to know the goodwill of our country is with him. We wish him well, while we pray for his success.