Our Fate Is Your Fate

Or, I am developing something of a crush on this new up-and-coming politician called Barack Obama:

All across America there are quiet storms taking place. There are lives of quiet desperation. People who need just a little bit of help. Now, Americans are a self-reliant people, we’re an independent people. We don’t like asking somebody else to do what we can do ourselves but you know what we understand is that every once in a while somebody’s going to get knocked down. Every once in a while somebody’s going to go through some hard times. When we least expect it tragedy may strike. And what has always made this country great is the understanding that we rise and fall as one nation, that values and family, community and neighborhood, they have to express themselves in our government. Those are national values. Those are values that we all subscribe to. And so that the spirit that we extend today and in the days to come as we monitor what happens on the Gulf that’s the spirit that we’ve got to carry with us each and every day. That’s the spirit that we need in our own homes and it’s the spirit that we need in the White House. And that’s why I’m running for president of the United States of America.

Because if there’s a poor child out there, that’s my child. If there’s a senior that’s having trouble, that’s my grandparent. If there’s a guy who’s lost his job, that’s my brother. If there’s a woman out there without healthcare, that’s my sister. Those are the values that built this country. Those are the values we are fighting for.

I wondered, reading it, if it came across as dismissive, as telling people on the Gulf Coast, “eh, everybody’s got problems all over.” I don’t know how this sounds elsewhere. I only know how it sounds to me: We are not a country that needs a crash course in coping with the cruelty of the world, where the slings and arrows ever stop coming. Maybe our press is by nature, even by necessity, hit and run, I can’t always say I stuck with every story I ever covered. But to pretend it stops because we aren’t there to see it is to pretend to a callousness I hope you never let me get away with. Things don’t start to exist when I look at them, and I’m not due some kind of medal for noticing what’s been in front of my face the whole time.

Am I making sense here? It’s all one thing: It’s you today, it’s me tomorrow, and it’s not that everybody’s got problems so fuck yours, it’s that everybody’s got problems so please, please, let me help you. It’s past time we had a leader who talked about all of it, all of it being the same thing, all of it being one life, and we either care for each other or we don’t. That’s the choice. It’s the only choice that exists. It’s the only one that ever has.


13 thoughts on “Our Fate Is Your Fate

  1. I definitely took it as a unifying speech. That we are going to face problems, be it individually or as a whole and that we are a nation that stands together. Yeah, maybe not all the time – not since the factioning of the country per se, but Goddess forbid if the infrastructure keeps on a crumbling in other areas, it will be clear enough that it’s not a freak thing. If a deity needs to be dragged into it, maybe the higher power is saying “Get the fuckers the hell out of office and put someone qualified in for crying out loud!!!” AKA “Impeach the motherfucker already!”
    Now, that’s a deity I can cheer on.
    Geauxbama!!! Bring us together for the good of our country and humanity??? Kthxbai!

  2. “…it’s most evident when natural disasters strike becausewe understand that only God has control and so it takes it out of the realm of politics …”
    I’m sorry but it’shis god that should be taken out of our politics/government.

  3. I only know how it sounds to me: We are not a country that needs a crash course in coping with the cruelty of the world, where the slings and arrows ever stop coming.
    I think we are a country that needs a lot of help (somehow, I don’t know how) remembering the guy next door, the person in the next state over, the other people out there. You know my answer to your questions. I don’t think it’s idealistic to reach out to other citizens and help each other, even if it’s just practicing tolerance and neighborliness. But we all have this truce mentality, like I’ll start after he starts. Fuck that. Just start.
    A lot of people call that christian values- I don’t, though as I understand them in the original text, there is a lot of resemblance. As for what Blue says about “God” – I’ve been more damaged by religion than I’ve been helped by it, and that’s probably true for a lot of us.
    But to cross our arms across our chests and wait for people to drop Christianity till we start participating? it’s not practical, it’s not realistic. I’m a stone supporter of the ACLU and I agree it’s a perversion of the Founders to insert christ into government and I will fight every law with a foundation in any one religious doctrine. But getting rid of that isn’t going to come fast. And in the meantime, I’d like to particpate in my government.
    I see it kind of like a progressive minded 12 step meeting- accept the whole “the god of your understanding” plug-in to ease the way- whether that’s nature, or chaos, or nothing, or yoru dog or whatever. The point to surviving as a nation is to start drawing fewer lines between us.

  4. I read that speech and heard the dogwhistle, only this one sounding the cause ofsocial justice:
    “I’ll be all around in the dark. I’ll be everywhere. Wherever you can look, wherever there’s a fight, so hungry people can eat, I’ll be there. Wherever there’s a cop beatin’ up a guy, I’ll be there. I’ll be in the way guys yell when they’re mad. I’ll be in the way kids laugh when they’re hungry and they know supper’s ready, and when people are eatin’ the stuff they raise and livin’ in the houses they build, I’ll be there, too.”
    I loved it.

  5. I’m grateful that Obama has said, and will continue to say, that we’re all in this together. Because the message over the last eight years has been very much that we are NOT in this together, that WE doesn’t include schlubs like thee and me who read blogs like this, or folks who weren’t able to leave New Orleans on their own as Katrina bore down, whoever is not wealthy and powerful. The “me first” mentality has grown like kudzu in the last few years, and the idea that our lives exist in the context of a community, always, and what we do affects everyone around us as well as ourselves, is seen as laughable. So WHAT you don’t want me to tear down this house and build another twice as large on the same spot, blocking view and air and dividing the neighborhood? “I’ll do what I want and screw you” has been the prevailing mood.
    To that, Obama says, “Enough. No more. We belong to each other, we need each other, and we will be there for each other.” I for one find this an enormous, refreshing relief.
    Peace, V.

  6. Yep, Chris C, I heard Joad, too. And I think the “me first” mentality is the thing that has most disappointed me about America in the last 30 years. Even during the Clinton era, there was a sense of “I’m gonna get mine” underneath the bridge-to-the-future-building.
    We need more reminders like this that if you want government to be there when the tragedy hits *you*, you need to support it so it’s there when tragedy hits everyone else.

  7. No amount of his pretty political demogoguery will sway me.Policy, however, will.
    He must have a good science advisor.

  8. No amount of his pretty political demogoguery will sway me.Policy, however, will.
    He must have a good science advisor.

  9. Could Obama extend the repudiation of the “Fuck you, Jack, I’ve got mine,” principle of American politics a little further? Let me explain:
    I would beg to disagree with his assertion that “We are not a country that needs a crash course in coping with the cruelty of the world, where the slings and arrows ever stop coming.” Yes, youare a country that needs just such a crash course. You are the richest, most insulated, most powerful nation on the planet. Your leaders bend their fingers, and much of the rest of the world comes running. Your fate is our fate; if your economy declines, the rest of the world’s economies face ruin. If your leaders start wars of convenience, the best the rest of us can do is sign on to protect ourselves, or look away in horror and hope we’re not next. Your foreign policy is an extended, two-century-long project in manipulating the rest of the world into serving your needs and/or catering to your whims, by force if required.
    Take care of your business at home first; that’s only right, but you’ve got a hell of a mess out here to straighten up…

  10. Interrobang, the assertion you quote was Athenae’s interpretation.
    Second, it seems clear that Obama is talking to and about ordinary American citizens. We do vote or not vote, we do engage or not engage, but there’s a gulf between the citizens and the government that we ourselves didn’t create.
    Are we complicit? Did we allow it to happen while we watched television and went shopping? yes I think so. Does the rank and file joe on the street think that? I dunno.
    Can we fix it? Do we want to? Again, as a country, I don’t know but I think we, the people have to be put back into play, somehow, someway. Maybe even against our will.
    Baby steps.

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