Saturday, November 22, 2008
By Ted Burke
It seemed for years that we were caught in a loop of empty testimonials and evocations each time November 22nd happened upon the calendar page, an increasingly hallow chorus of platitudes and crumbling cliches centering around the promise of the late John F.Kennedy's administration and how that road to our destined Eden was bombed, blasted and dug up with his assassination. So much hope, but we trudge on, there was so much promise, but we carry on the work, the world has only become more insane, but we maintain faith in our hearts of our better instincts and work all the same towards that Paradise that is the American Dream.
We've been through these waves of self laceration, self-loathing, mumbled commitments to social justice, and we've trudged on instead, weighted with hostage crisis, nuclear brinkmanship, bi-polar stock markets, entrenched meanness regarding race and economic gain for the working class, our optimism stashed in a box, crammed in the back of a closet overstuffed with dashed hopes for a better existence.
Those of us in our fifties who embody the cocky retorts of a bright boy and the spite of the laziest who disguise their apathy with a pretense of cynicism roll our eyes when the fateful date comes again, the speeches and the hushed tones are read again, that our noddings of the head will suffice in place of expressed irritation less out of respect for the memory of John Kennedy and what he represents so much as maintaining a peaceful workplace. It's a sad fate to have one's internalized values become a source of venal aggravation. Irony, easy literary devices, earnest cliches become true; hoist by my own petard.
At the moment George W.Bush is giving a speech to an economic summit and it's the lowest of ironic effects that the President who presided over the evisceration of our economic system, our prestige as a presence internationally, and who launched an unjustified war should be lecturing anyone, at anytime, in any capacity about the right way to run a nation. So much hinges on the coming administration of Barack Obama--the liberal verities are revived, the multiple crisis are in place, there seems to be a consensus among many of us, even those of us who've surrendered to an extinct to an easy chair nihilism, that we can, as a country, face up to and face down the catastrophes that confront us. 2 million new jobs? Financial help for Detroit automakers with it in mind that they get their respective houses in order? A health care plan for every American? President Elect Obama has a full in-basket, perhaps the worst set of conditions an outgoing President has handed over to an incumbent at any time in our history. Yet Obama inspires that yearning to work with the rest of the nation toward solutions to our current states and the reemergence of a Greatness that can truly benefit the World. Time will tell, and sooner than anyone really suspects--history makes a lasting judgement much faster in our high velocity times.