Walking through the Mile End neighborhood of Montreal, Quebec, Canada yesterday, in the center of the Hasidic quarter, I noticed these signs in the window of what I'm pretty sure is a Hasidic school. In 7 years of living here I have never, so far as I can remember, seen anyone in the Hasidic community display a poster for any candidate in any Canadian election, let alone an American one. The word written in Hebrew is Obama.
It's worth remembering I think, especially as Americans head into the frantic and confusing spin fest of these final days before the election, that for the rest of the world, even close neighbors like Canada with a Prime Minister who has all too often been in Bush's pocket, the distinction between the candidates has become clear and profound. While certain scarily monopolistic media across North America repeat the distortive fiction about Obama, he manages still to touch our humanity and turn this incredibly dark time in human history into an opportunity for surprising connection and flourishing.
The Canadians I know are increasingly eager to become involved in his movement. Though it's hard to believe we could really trust America again to be that land of promise after what's been done to our planet and the world's view of us over the past 8 years, we are starting to see signs and get excited. We see Obama's campaign not as a movement toward a vague marketing message of Change and Hope but towards core values which are, for many of us still, core Canadian values: diplomacy and leadership from the top and grassroots community empowerment from the bottom as fundamental building blocks for sustainable peace in our communities and in the world; health care as a right, including freedom to safely choose when and how we will bring our children into the world; environmental health as the key to human and planetary survival. And above all, a respect for diversity and the incredible resiliance and strength it brings.
Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, Jew -- what Obama's success shows us is what we have long wanted to believe: that a majority of people long to be connected to a higher purpose that respects the tools of our many faiths and cultures and enables us to bring to the table. Discourse that aims for this, and in doing so successfully connects with isolated communities in places beyond "the base," is worth voting for, in my humble Canadian opinion.