I don't believe in hope. I think hope and religious faith are the two most insidious and cold blooded of human conventions:each offer up the unattainable and each incur endless suffering. I grew up in a country whose ideologues exploited religious conviction to validate the most dehumanising form of racism since their teachers attempted to practice its principles during World War Two.
I watched hope erode the potential of nation, watch its citizenry lose its dignity over its determination to remove irascible stains from urban areas. I grew up in the shadow of massacres, forced removals, riots, and the dictatorial force of a police state. Hope was something you ate and choked on along with the dust, hunger and smouldering hate of rival township gang street clashes: religion was its keepsake; the guardian of the nation and the 'greater good'. Hope where I grew up was an empty stomach, the thowing of stones at tanks and riot police, the burning down of shebeens and a bullet in the back.
This was South Africa's golden era, not some darker precinct of an American inner city. Mandela was deemed the terrorist of terrorists: the ultimate threat to white survival: he embodied everything from a faceless ruthless thug to a conniving cold-blooded terrorist who encouraged urban violence and unlawful dissidence. it took seven years to negotiate his freedom, it took him less than seven seconds to win the respect of a country and the world... his walk to freedom with the symbolic ANC fist of defiance held high. His reign was brief, his impact still tangibly resonant. He had graduated from terrorist to statesman.
Today, Barak Obama made history..again. I still don't believe in hope, though he does force me to revisit the notion of political leadership. From the outset, whatever you may think of the man, his skill and prowess at maintaining a solid determination underpinning an even keel of international diplomacy is staggeringly impressive, for his relative political youth and experience.It is not just the oratory skill, the impassioned clarity, not even the intellectual acumen with which he shares his vision, or his calm in the the challenging face-off of his adversaries that leaves me reconsidering the value of Hope. Amdist the flurry of diverse views and opinions of how fresh into a presidency and unproven of his commitment and promises, and in his leading the world's largest military machinery still engaged in war, one thing suddenly becomes utterly clear.
Here is a young man, whose heritage goes back to the the humblest of African villages, who has embraced one of possibly the most arduous of political challenges on any global stage: that of finishing and cleaning up the mess of the aftermath of a war not of his making, but one which W. Bush so cowardicely began with a lie.
Here is a young man talking across the religious and ideological divide between Christiandom and Islam to Iran: taking up the horrendous burden of the Midddle East Conflict, confronting nuclear disarmament in the face of a conservative backlash back on his own turf for doing so...
Amidst all this, in the infancy of an historic presidency, Barak Obama receives the Nobel Prize for Peace... and for now he stands among us as the Valedictorian of Universal Hope.... It suddenly made me see, not just realise, but see, that although we do not know it, do not fully recognize its significance, we are in fact, in the tradition of a true political legacy of leadership, witnessing the rarest of historic events... nothing less than the making of Statesmanship.
Causes Renee Sigel Supports
The Grossman Burn Unit