Wednesday, March 19, 2008

The Crowds at Calvary

Barack Obama gave the speech of a lifetime on race. He had to. He was left with no choice but to address America after remarks by his friend and pastor left America feeling inflamed. I wasn't one of those inflamed. I have attended church regularly in the US since Sept 11, 2001 and never been to a black preacher's church. However, those sentiments of Reverend Wright are not unique to Wright. They are basically conventional wisdom amongst many many pastors of all races and creeds. My overall assessment is that Barack Obama was handed this opportunity by his naysayers, by an idle media as elections go through what should have been a downtime period and by a fickle society, this proven by the poll results that came out yesterday.

As we approach Easter, I address people, reactions, call for blood, and the roles we play in everyday life. Jesus was crucified on a cross because the crowds were baying for his blood. A crowd so incensed by the reigning religious elite. An elite group that was incensed at the audacity of Jesus. How dare Jesus claim to be the messiah and attack them for the way they run the church? Recall Jerusalem was crowded as the annual festival where they all brought sacrifices, the best of their lambs, was taking place. Keeping this short, Jesus did two things that influenced his ultimate crucifixion. He went to the temple in Jerusalem, drove the religious elite out for turning the temple into a den of thieves and raised a dead Lazarus, his best friend, four days into decay. There was euphoria, spreading like wildfire over the miracle of raising Lazarus, couple this with the scene Jesus created at the temple, add the huge crowds as all of Israel was demanded to be in Jerusalem then and there, you now know why the religious elite was incensed.

What I don't understand is how they turned a crowd that had been chanting "Hosanna" as Jesus walked on by on a donkey, to one that yelled back "Barabbas", over Jesus given a choice of whom to set free. The irony is that the elite who Jesus kicked out of the temple were stealing from the very crowds that finally crucified Jesus. That what he yelled at them for was the fact that they were deeming people's perfectly acceptable lambs as imperfect, taking those, selling them lambs and then selling the lambs they took from these other families to the families that came behind them. They had turned a most intimate process of worship into a business with no care for even the really poor who would spend everything they had to purchase a lamb worthy of sacrifice.

It's the way people are influenced, have been through history into ignoring the facts that they were so aware of from having visually and mentally experienced them, and become puppets of people with their own personal agendas. It's crazy how people who know what both white and black people say behind closed doors would pretend to be so shocked about Rev, Wright's utterances. A man who stands in a pulpit in a black church said there were injustices to the black from the whites, OMG!!! shocker! I know I'm oversimplifying the issue, my point being it's sensational but not situational. That it has become this situational, is not surprising to me, just further testimony into the insanely huge amount of weakness that is human beings in as parts of a crowd. That fact that makes the few people who can see the truth as crowds start baying for blood, often innocent and with knowledge of that fact having been tucked away into the corners people's minds, perhaps so that they are all saying the same thing; that difference, so rare and yet so necessary. That common sense so lacking across medias all over the world, that weakness that has caused the death of so many, that constant revolving door that is so wondrous for its abundance despite its constant abundance of poor results.

The crowds at Calvary. A situation we find ourselves in everyday. Whenever we are in a position to decide something about anything, and are part of a huge crowd, physically present or otherwise; it's that opportunity we have to shout "Jesus" instead of "Barabbas"; based on what we know not what we are being told we know, that truly determines what kinds of people we really are.

Recall however, that in Jesus' situation, this outcome was predetermined. But also remember that the greatest good came from people's inability to just do right, to stand for truth. In that sense, truth always wins. and imagine the guilt and shame of those who had yelled Barabbas as the news of Jesus and his resurrection spread. And the torture many might have endured in the hands of a common criminal such as Barabbas, simply because they chose to set him free.

So as Barack does the right thing by refusing to denounce his reverend over petty politics, I gratefully watch him make what I believe to be the right call on this issue. If it costs him the election, so be it. We are after all our brother's keepers. And for a country that boasts free speech, utterances and opinions like Rev. Wright's, though controversial, are shared by so many from all races, that it would be ludicrous to agree that he was that crazy. I understand the need to denounce the speeches especially where they sound racist. But I as a normal thinking person, looking at Barack as a mixed American, raised by white relatives and struggling to find an identity within his prescribed race could never ask that he denounce the man who led him to understand what or who he really was. And I couldn't either shrink my mind to accepting he is racist against whites, despite they being his closest relatives, including a mother he loved dearly.

So as a member of the Crowd at Calvary, I'm accepting my inability to change the outcome, but I am going against the voices I hear. simply because I think they are wrong, biased and misleading, all for selfish reasons.

Y'all have a Happy Easter!

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Random Speak

Since I know you've all been up all weekend wondering what I did with my Thursday evening, lemme tell y'all what I did with it. I took myself and my curiosity to the Fort Worth Convention center and listened to (the) Barack Obama live! I decided to become part of history and I am glad I did. Forget that it took 40 minutes to find a parking spot despite arriving 15 min before the center opened which was 2 hours before the man himself was scheduled to address the crowds. It was all worth it. So many people from all walks of life. I mean Indians (whom I had to acknowledge are underrepresented given their huge numbers as I saw them), blacks (so many! I hope they will remain this interested in their lives after this), Hispanics (plenty of them in the fort worth neighborhood) and whites. Many people seemed to have arrived directly from work. Others had closed businesses early and others simply took the day off to get there early enough to get good seats.

Kudos to the staff at the convention center. The queues, many as they were and longer than they were many moved really quickly. Security was tight just like at the airport and people were many. As soon as I got in, I knew I would have to use my imagination to get close enough to witness this as I wanted to. And details spared, I did. Wrong side though, he came and left from the opposite side. But I saw him clearly and close enough as he spoke.

He wore the demeanor of a winner, the attitude of a simple man, and the intelligence of a leader. It was like an epiphany. I understood why he was where he is at with his life. The speech was in many ways repetitive for anyone who has been listening to his every word via as well as CNN and anywhere else they'll air it. The same theme, the same statements, even the same punchlines here and there. But it would get very simply personalized for the immediate crowd. And I understood why the message was the same everywhere.Simply because the message is one and the same throughout. And most of those at the rally are not like me, haven't been looking for Obama news everywhere. They are hearing a lot of these things for the first time. hence the need for rallies. Frankly, people like me are just taking up space since we know we are supporters.

Entertaining moment when he breaks with the "has someone fainted... EMT... water..." line that CNN had been making fun of his super stardom with clips of such moments during his rallies. It's simple why they faint. They stand for 2 hours while waiting for him to arrive, not including the time during which he is talking and their queue times. It is wise to choose to sit at these moments. Even more interesting, as he points in that one direction, lady behind me and about 3 people to my right, despite being sitted needs an EMT as she is about to pass out. That is about the sheer excitement going on. People were all abuzz, excited, just completely ready to vote for him. I talked to a few people, all different age groups.

This older white man said to me that its been too long since Barack came along. Everything is wrong at Washington and Barack just has to be the next president. OK. Black middle age lady. She told me that this moment was the reason she worked 2-3 jobs to take her kids through college. She told them they could be anything and this man (Barack) was evidence to her she had been right about that all along. That I thought was very interesting and personal. basically, barack chose right with the message of change. He represents it and all his supporters are craving change one way or the other. Hence his success. That was helpful to me. I've been a little fuddled about how he was successfully able to kick Mrs. Clinton out of her assumed nominee role. I get it now.

There's still a whole lot to do in TX to get him the victory here. And as I left, I talked to volunteers and understood what they had planned for this weekend. They have been busy and were actually recruiting volunteers for between then and Tuesday right there as people left. I hope they will reap handsomely come Tuesday.

Odinga and Kibaki, about time they grew up. Now can someone please define the roles of all these new positions and explain to me how Kenya is going to finance these salaries which will be hefty and can we be told what these salaries will be. Anyone who reads this blog knows I think that Kenya needs no addition to it tax payer burden within the governing circle. What it needs is better job descriptions and effective management. But for the sake of peace, this might be a small price to pay. I just wanna know how small. However, what I really want to say about that is I'm glad we're past that and can these two parties save us any further drama and start rebuilding the devastation they have caused in terms of jobs and country pride.

Next on my agenda? Tuesday. Texas, Ohio, Rhode Island and Vermont. Rhode Island and Ohio right now per the polls, not pleasing me. They better intend to surprise the hell out of me come Tuesday. Keeping my fingers crossed!