We are at a telling crossroads in our country. We are divided on matters of race, of economics, and of peace. Today, as the US enters a sixth year of war in Iraq, as a recession, caused in part by this war and in part on a war between those who have and those who have not, causes strain and anxiety, and as a stymied conversation on race relations and classism has been pushed front and center in the heat of a presidential nominating process, we are challenged to find common ground.
And still, I believe, the greatness of this country is that we will find a way.
Self-reflection tells me that I have not always been the best emissary in trying to understand or communicate to those who I disagree with and I feel lessened for it. Preaching to our own choirs, while comfortable and comforting, does not help to heal old, festering wounds.
Barack Obama's speech yesterday was remarkable and risky. In light of the polls, it would have been safer to distance himself from Rev. Wright, but to address the American people in such a deeply personal way on a subject that is so incendiary for so many, is not the easy road. And yet, isn't that what we want from our leaders? To put themselves on the line for difficult problems.
As for me, I hope that his speech is remembered as Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" speech is, because it is truly does seem to reflect the state of the union of race relations in our country. I'm certain that Obama's speech will encourage a national dialogue, but I'm hopeful that it will be cathartic.
We need this moment of grace because as Obama said, we are in "...a racial stalemate [that] we’ve been stuck in for years. Contrary to the claims of some of my critics, black and white, I have never been so naïve as to believe that we can get beyond our racial divisions in a single election cycle, or with a single candidacy�” particularly a candidacy as imperfect as my own.
But I have asserted a firm conviction�” a conviction rooted in my faith in God and my faith in the American people�” that working together we can move beyond some of our old racial wounds, and that in fact we have no choice is we are to continue on the path of a more perfect union."
We have a defining moment in front of us, will we take this opportunity to engage in conversations and actions that propel us forward or will we remain in a stalemate and forever have time stand still?