Thursday, November 6, 2008

Life after the 2008 election

I've been silent on this blog for the last few days. The frenzy leading up to Tuesday's election as well as the post-election euphoria, exhaustion, and inevitable catch-up on all the things I hadn't been paying attention to for so many days all took its toll on me. I still haven't completely grasped the magnitude of the event, nor its place in the long arc of personal and societal history.

As a baby boomer, I remember a great deal of what America has gone through since the end of World War II. OK, well maybe not that far back, but certainly since the time of JFK. When the newscasters announced that Barack Obama had been elected president of the United States, it was as if my entire life flashed before my eyes: LBJ, Martin Luther King, Jr., Bobby Kennedy, Nixon, Watts, Reagan, Bush the Elder, Clinton, Rodney King, Bush the Dumber ... It was as if for the first time in many long years I allowed myself to look at where I am in time and how I got here. How we got here. I'm wondering if this is what it feels like to have suffered and recovered from post-traumatic stress disorder.

After a couple of night's sleep, I feel more awake than I have been in years, and among all the questions and ideas I have swirling around in my mind, two stand out:

1. What will an Obama presidency mean for conservation and the natural world? Will the assault on nature continue as a necessary expediency to spur economic recovery and to solidify the Democratic hold on the political center? Or will President Obama recognize that we cannot have healthy human communities with healthy natural communities?

2. What can I do to help? In his acceptance speech in Grant Park on Tuesday night, he acknowledged (wisely, I think) just how hard the tasks before us are, and he said "I need your help." I need to answer this call. Yes, I know I could cop-out and say that my work for the last several years has been an effort to help stem the tide of ecological destruction, as well as to be an effective educator and parent. But I almost feel as if I have done that while asleep. There is so much more that needs to be done, especially for the natural world. I am going to answer this question for myself. I challenge each of you to answer it ... and follow-through on it ... for yourselves as well.

So ... here's to what I hope is truly the end of our long national nightmare. The return of this great nation of ours to the rule of law and reality-based governance. Maybe there is hope for us as a species afterall.

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