As Americans we are in a hurry. We don’t have the patience to wait for delayed gratification. We grab and eat the first marshmallow instead of waiting for the second one. We are accustomed to having every dilemma, every problem solved in the space of an hour–which includes commercial breaks.
Not all change is good. Sometimes it is wise to wait and let nature take its course. Some problems just naturally solve themselves. Sometimes drastic and quick action is necessary. Most change takes time. The great social changes evolved over a stretch of many years–the abolition of slavery, civil rights, women’s rights, rights of workers, etc.
Some situations and problems are very complicated. There is no simple solution and for every positive consequence of an action there may well be a negative unintended consequence. It is a delicate balance.
On January 27, 2010, just one year after the inauguration of President Barack Obama who promised hope and change, many Americans are very disillusioned. They believed in “The Audacity of Hope” in “Change We Can Believe In.” They supported, admired, and placed their trust in a new charismatic leader. The first President with African ancestry symbolized a triumph over racism. It sent a message that if a child of mixed race, raised by a single parent, grandson of average middle class Americans and native Africans could become President of the United States, any child could achieve that dream.
However, overshadowing the triumphant celebration loomed many dire problems. Thousands of people were losing their jobs and their homes. Thousands did not have health care. The whole economy was way out of balance. Businesses were closing. There was a war going on and many, many problems worldwide involving hunger, disease, corrupt governments, and religious and territorial rivalries.
Yes, many Americans expected this new, awesome President to solve all the problems in the space of an average TV show–well at least between his inaugural and his first state of the union address.
But then there were other Americans, who saw in this new President a challenge to their universe. Was it racism? Was it fear of losing their special privileges? Was it fear of the government taking over services that had traditionally been left to the private sector? There were media figures and politicians who fanned and exploited that fear with misinformation and exaggeration. There were politicians who said “no” to anything and everything that the new President proposed. Was it purely for their own political gain? Were they following the lead of the media pundit who stated that he wanted President Obama to fail?
Looking ahead to the second year of the Obama administration, we Americans need to be more patient. It is my fear that especially the young voters who worked so hard for President Obama’s campaign will be so disillusioned that they will be reluctant to continue to participate. If this happens, the opposition wins.
Those who believe in the programs advocated by President Obama need to continue to support and speak out. Those who are spreading misinformation, fanning the flames of hysteria, and thinking only of their own political future need to stop and think about what they are doing to our country. People of all opinions need to think rationally, weigh the evidence available, and work together to solve the problems of our country and the world.
Change we can believe in takes time. We can’t just sit and wait for it to happen. We need to work toward it. However, we should not expect miracles to happen in the space of a TV show (including commercials).