After all of the talk about the severity of the economy, the lack of jobs, shrinking credit availability, poor housing markets, rising deficits, heart-breaking wars, deplorable education trends for our children and youth, an embarrassing health care system, soul crushing poverty at home and abroad, devastating natural disasters, global warming, and the stifling grip of social, sexual, racial, and economic injustice, I still say this is a great time to be alive. I say this for several reasons.
1. For all that is upsetting about our time, we have finally manifested an environment where discourse is valued. It is even encouraged. Just a few years ago, if you to disagreed with the Bush administration, you were called unpatriotic. That potent label was attached to anyone who did not want to go to war. And it was un-American not to support the economic or social policies of the day. In contrast, there is plenty of tough criticism for the Obama administration from the same people who supported his run for office. This is a good thing. It is healthy. Our voices of concern and the expression of our different ideas will help lift the best ideas to the attention our government. I am not so naive as to think that this process will be easy, smooth, or always satisfying. I do believe that having a president that is encouraging the expression of ideas and solutions and who takes the time to listen and discuss them with his advisors is a hope-filled situation. Criticism, especially from the ones who support you can be good. It can be inspiring, refreshing, and it can also protect you from harm that you can not see coming. This is a very auspicious time to be alive.
2. The response by our global community to the needs of the people of Haiti after the earthquake struck is giving us a chance to restore faith in humanity. And so far, I think our species is doing well. Sure there is room for criticism and for improvement; however, I am moved by the breadth and scope of our global community's generosity. The use of technology as exemplified by the use of texting to make donations and the massive number of TV commercials and news items that continue to encourage us all to give what we can. This is an affirmation of the potential for compassion. Haiti continues to have top page placement in leading media such as the Huffington Post. Governments from around the world are contributing to the humanitarian effort. NGOs are providing the medical, structural, and basic needs to help the Haitians rebuild. There even seems to be the social and political pressure to say focused on Haiti to give the Haitian people every chance to create a society of prosperity as opposed to one of just mere survival. It is amazing to see large corporations - like Wells Fargo - pressured by we the people into dropping transaction fees for donations to help the Haitians. And all of this for a country that has no oil or diamonds. All of this for a country whose greatest resource is its people - Black people. I know that the work is not anywhere near completion, but doesn't the possibility for real commitment feel more real than it ever has? When focused, motivated, and creative our global community can get it right and for the right reasons.
3. Everything that needs to happen in Haiti needs to be addressed, although on different scales, right here in the US. I understand that it takes political will and a movement by the people to reallocate the kind of money that we are spending on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan towards healthcare, education, and infrastructure. And I think the time for this reshuffling of the nations resources is approaching. It feels to me that we are living in a time where we are becoming grounded, connected, and willing to open our hearts to an era of genuine compassion - and yes, change.