Sunday, November 9, 2008

The World Is Changing

I’ve not had the words for days now. I’m still so overwhelmed, letting it all sink in.

My friend Chi, all the way in Dubai, who reads my blogs regularly (“cracks the whip” is actually the more accurate description of what she does with me regarding this blog) demanded over Facebook last week: “Tweet Sering, where is this week’s?”

I promised I would upload a new one. But at that time, with the US election just days away, I couldn’t sit still long enough to organize my thoughts on my computer. I was too excited. And too scared, actually. What if—shudder--Obama doesn’t win? The idea was as horrific as Gotham City without Batman. Except with this, I couldn’t walk out of the darkness of the movie theatre afterwards—I’d still have to live in a world that was beginning to plunge ever deeper into hopelessness and chaos and darkness.

I’m still so buzzed. This has been an amazing week. My sister Jof, the new island girl (she’s now working in Boracay, lucky biyatch) texted me this the day after: “The world is changing! J I’m so excited. Obama rocks!”

Many people have wanted to “change the world”—and, in fact, many have been and still are changing the world. But the election to the highest office in the most powerful country in the world of an African American--the race that, only four decades ago, was fighting to rid itself of the last vestiges of slavery, was such a resounding, dramatic proof that the world is changing, that the human race is evolving--despite the wars and the poverty and the environmental degradation and the climate crisis that suggest otherwise. Yes, there is that. And it would be downright dangerous to even think that that part is getting better because it is, in fact, getting worse.

But what the Obama win showed was that the wars, the poverty, the environmental degradation and the climate crisis are not all that is left in the world. It’s not all hopelessness and cynicism and apathy. Obama’s triumph showed that there is still enough hope and passion and a sense of responsibility left; at least, that there are people who still have these in them enough to get him—the unlikeliest candidate, but the one with the strong message of hope and change—elected…by a landslide. There are still enough people fired up to, as Angelina Jolie put it, “roll up [their] sleeves and take on what [they] care about”. There are still a great number of people who, like John F. Kennedy, fervently believe that “our problems are man-made. Therefore, they can be solved by man. And man can be as big as he wants. No problem of human destiny is beyond human beings. Man’s reason and spirit have often solved the seemingly unsolvable—and we believe they can do it again.”

All together now: “Yes, we can!” J

I’ve been camping in front of the TV, hungry for more news and analyses on the historic event because, as with some of the most profound experiences—as this one definitely was—I have been at a loss for words. So I’ve been letting other people’s words—the CNN, BBC, Bloomberg and Al-Jazeera anchors and political analysts (what, no Fox News? Hehe), the columnists, Oprah on her website, my friends from all around the world with their giddy e-mails and Facebook posts—wash over me. I just wanted to take it all in and sit with it. About the most articulate thing that came out of my mouth the past days was “AAAAHHHHHHHH!!!”


Which, thankfully for me (Chi, eto na!), paved the way for the above entry.


Some of the words from other people that I sat with the longest and savored the most:

“As he looked out Tuesday night through the bulletproof glass, in a park named for a Civil War general, he had to see the truth on people’s faces. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for, he liked to say, but people were waiting for him, waiting for someone to finish what a King began.”– Nancy Gibbs, Time Magazine, as quoted by Gayle King on

“I was sobered by his calmness when he came out. Because he didn’t walk out triumphant. He was humbled and steady.”--Oprah on

"The most important thing that Barack Obama brings to the presidency is his willingness to reason. He won his presidency not as a black American but as a reasoning American who happens to be black."--Amartya Sen, Nobel Prize-winning economist, in TIME magazine

"Early-voting lines in Atlanta were 10 hours long, and still people waited, as though their vote was their most precious and personal possession at a moment when everything else seemed to be losing its value."--Nancy Gibbs, TIME magazine

“Hope has to keep winning.”--David Gergen, CNN Senior Political Analyst on

"We felt we could have talked burgers--and places and books--with him all day. But you expect that of a politician, whose livelihood depends on winning hearts. The more remarkable thing, we both felt, was that this sparkling stranger was so much like the kind of people we meet in Paris, in Hong Kong, in the Middle East: difficult to place and connected to everywhere."--Pico Iyer, writing in TIME magazine about a chance encounter with then Sen. Barack Obama in Hawaii in late 2006, a week before the new President-elect joined the presidential race. Iyer was with traveler and writer Paul Theroux.

"Never will an American election have excited in the rest of the world a hope at once so crazy and so reasoned." -- Bernard-Henri Levy, French writer and philosopher in TIME magazine

"My brother is not supposed to accomplish even half of what he has. It's meant to be impossible. It makes you wonder. Is this some force at work, the dynamics of nature and life? Is it God? We divided the world after 9/11. And the world said no. And through my brother, we can all connect again." -- Malik Obama, Barack's Kenyan half-brother, TIME magazine

"I believe Mr. Obama exhibits many of the best characteristics of our species in terms of intelligence, sensitivity, resolve and a willingness to reason." -- Richard Leakey, Kenyan conservationist, TIME magazine

"Obama's election is not an event we can comprehend fully right now. It portends a shift whose magnitude will only be realized as my daughter's generation comes of age. But it will change, forever, our assumptions of who can become what in this world." -- Ellis Cose, Newsweek

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