Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Hope

It's fashionable among the nifty trendsetting ultra-hipster pseudo-elite, to mock the US. Whether you are from the US hardly matters. And it's not only because America is such a unfathomably large target: bombastic and patriotic, star and stripes and assault rifles and Monday Night football; it's not only because America has become a caricature of everything that comes to mind when one says 'boor'.

No, it goes deeper than that.

For those outside the US, America represents that hypocrtical parent you catch toking a doobie while speed dialing his mistress. A paragon, if you will, of virtue, of (probably due to Hollywood) everything that's Good In The World. Independence, freedom, a general distaste for hierarchy. The States were always the Rebel Alliance for much of its short history; scrappy and just one of the good ol' boys; the passengers in steerage in the great Titanic of world politics.

All that changed, of course.

One needn't outline all the atrocious things that have passed under the Bush Administration. The list is unspeakably long, laughably absurd. Domestic wiretapping; pre-emptive wars; torture; prisons which sucked foreign nationals in and never let them out; black ops CIA torture shops that were stationed outside the US; botching of Katrina relief; hampering stem cell research; gutting environmental protection laws.

It all goes directly against what the US meant not only to itself, but to the world.

The list sounds over the top. Something out of a dystopian sci-fi epic where the protagonist is well-trained in a stylish killing technique and the art director finds colours outside the grey-scale to be abhorrent.

The affront is all the worse because it comes from the brash, bastion of freedom. The plucky upstart that showed those entrenched dowdy Europeans the what-for. A country that took the throwaways from different countries and built something great. A country, quite literally, of underdogs.

It's a poetic country.

A country that inspires patriotism, that feeling of belonging and pride that usually is only given to sports teams or marginal British comedy troupes. Sure, we laugh and scoff at the mulleted, stars-and-stripes parachute pants wearing red-neck at the NASCAR rallies; but that sentiment, to literally wear ones country, wells from somewhere. A sense that we are all equal, that every one has an equal chance to succeed in whatever way they see fit. That freedom, to do and say what we want and how we want, is a basic right, moreso than Star Wars prequels that don't suck or a Thanksgiving Dinner that isn't too awkward.

The world loves America, but even more than that, loves what America stands for. An idyllic rough and tumble world of meritocracy and hope. Hope for a better life, for the best in ourselves realized. Hope that those who work the hardest and the smartest will get their earned reward. That it's not where you're born or what you're born into, but rather what you are driven to achieve that counts.

It's that love that is so white hot that can turn to hate so cold.

And now the US stands on the precipice of another election, now with a Democratic nominee who inspires, who thinks about issues. Who really is about coming right from the very bottom, and clawing the way to the top. A thoughtful, enlightened president. One who can, let's face it, give one hell of a speech.

The world is once again in the thrall of US, once again in this honeymoon of America as an idea, no, no, the ideal idea. A country that almost every free country strives in some ways to be like.

Cynic that I am, it's only natural for me to brace for the worst. But Obama has me in thrall as well. This skeptic die-hard sarcasm-as-a-second-language nerd can't help but hope, throw his full unrepentant sentiment behind the idea that the US will choose a better direction, for a better country, a better world.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Beautiful. Zackly.

Hope. Now there's a word I've not heard in a...very long time.

Monkfish said...

Thank goodness Obama has decided to get a puppy. I was really worried we'd have a dogless president there for a while. I just hope he names it Champ or something suitable.

Niteowl said...

Y'know, I just assumed he HAD a dog. Who runs for the Commander In Chief without a witty bitty puppy boo to sway the masses into thinking your a reg'lar guy just like them?

Ohh, cynicism is back.