Thursday, 29 January 2009

Is Obama Who He Seems to Be?

I feel as if I'm coming out of a closet of sorts when I'm saying this. But I've been pretty concerned about the way American society has elevated Obama to the status of some form of saviour. My gutfeeling is that there are too many expectations on him, and that it will cloud his judgment. I see a man who also has a dark side that is not obvious to the naked eye. I see someone who fits into the society and its expectations with slickness - for instance, judging by the style and manner of the discourse. I think he has good intentions but I also sense something sordid. When the American society has been cheering, I've been feeling as if I had a hang over. Following how people have reacted on the internet (especially Twitter was interesting in this regard) I could see so much blind admiration that it chilled me to the bone. Even spiritually minded people seemed very angry at those who expressed worry and caution. Someone asked why some people want to spoil the joy the Americans were feeling. I feel sorry for the utter desperation that is at the bottom of such feelings and a need to believe in a saviour. Well, if you ask me, I find it hard to believe that the strong dichotomies in that society will be easily bridged. I see a stark, blinding light (which in other words is not pleasant to the eye) and sharp shadows. But I feel that it will be a case of "I told you so" when the difficult years ahead have been consummated.

I came across some predictions and visions yesterday. It was chilling to see that so many have had acopalyctic visions and not very optimistic visions of a president who has taken over with such unprecedented ease. Some have gone as far as to call him antichrist, others are more down-to-earth and only see a man who will not be able to make the right decisions, and there will be plenty of symptoms of a phenomenon you could call "the end of the world". Apparently, in four year's time things will change (we have all heard of the 2012 phenomenon, right?). Be it as it may, I was anyway interested to see that I'm not the only one with a feeling that things are not always what they seem and that most people who seem too good to be true, really are. We shall see. Of course I hope that my intuitions are correct for my own sake but I hope they aren't for the sake of this world and what we all may have to go through in the years to come. I probably have reasons to be grateful that I was not meant to stay in that part of the world.

Artwork: "Caught Forever", digital photograph by author, all rights reserved 2008


  1. Vivi-Mari,
    It is dangerous and unrealistic to deify any individual.That is a sure road to disappointment and disaster.To believe that one person will effect change quickly and dramatically is reflective of desperation and weakness. Adults,much like children, often demand structure and limitations. It relieves them of total responsibility for their own lives, thoughts,social and economic situations. I personally and confidently voted for Obama. I realized any other decision would have been based upon "fear." I however, am not "blindly led." I finished several paintings months ago that are reflective of this concept of relinquishing control and desiring guidance. They are of sheep and crows:)Obama does represent change and hope but more than anything, without idealizing this person, he and his wife epitomize opportunity,desire,passion and determination. They represent the "American Dream." People can criticize all that they like, but this family created this historic,couragaeous and monumental situation for themselves.This is not a dictatorship (although the recent talks of socialism, Marxism,and other political debates reveal many think otherwise).So will there be immediate and magical transformations?...of course not!Americans, as usual have responded to the "celebrity" of Obama. He is charismatic,intelligent and informed. He is effectively reaching the masses and connecting with them,( especially the young, technologically obsessed ,through Facebook, Twitter, MySpace and the like)transcending time,space,race, creed and culture. They desire constant connectivity,entertainment, passion.... and Obama will deliver. But Vivi-Mari, I genuinely believe that he is innovative,moral and strong and will responsibly make decisons on behalf of our nation...but be assured he is no Saviour...time and history will reveal his true character. You have to be awed by anyone who even wants to serve in a position of such power...pure insanity:)

  2. Thank you for your eloquent and intelligent answer, Jude. I wish everyone was that smart but we all know that not everyone is... I do hope that all goes well though and that those who claim to have clairvoyant powers will as usually be proven off course. We are all affected by the outcome of the next few years, so it concerns us all even at the other side of the world. Personally I could use a little distance from all that goes on over there... it comes to us so strongly through every medium, and I don't like feeling so strongly immersed in all this.

  3. Another insightful post.

    I hope with all my heart that Jude is right when it comes to the true character of our new president. America is a society that places a tremendous amount of credibility on the spoken word without, in my opinion, significant fact checking.

    I am impressed with President Obama and his family. His ability to connect with people is exactly what is needed in this time of turmoil. How he chooses to use this celebrity will ultimately decide what happens.

    So far he is in step with his predecessors in making sure that the perpetrators who caused our crisis in the first place are rewarded for their ineptitude.

    I get very frightened when I here people shout from the rooftops that "we have elected the Easter Bunny as president and he is bringing us all a big basket of candy". No one man, woman or superhero can deliver half the promises he made to get where he is today.

    It took an unimaginable amount of money to put him in the White house and I can assure you that those who ponied up that money will get their basket first (See Bailout).

    I will continue to "hope for change" but being one who is close to the political system, will not hold my breath. We all need to pray for the President and the world.


  4. Hi Vivi-Mari - It's the first time I've had chance to get over here in ages. I've been getting into so many convoluted discussions on my blog that my mind's in a spin. I'm thinking of giving it up for a while to get some clarity back! One of my readers (and fearsome commenter) Sue Ann tells me we're in a retrograde phase at the moment (whatever that is exactly). Anyway, the good news is that it ends today. Thank goodness for that...

    Yes, Obama. I keep coming across warnings about him. My friend Grace did a post the other day which is kind of scary:

    My feelings about him are generally positive, so I hope you're all wrong! It does seem a bit unfair when people have visions of a dark future and then then say that's down to Obama. That's the way things are going anyway - don't they watch the news?

    Obama seems to bring a greater sense of hope than it is reasonable to have at the present time. My own hope is that the man is enlightened, or at least has a degree of enlightenment - he certainly seems to be very much in the moment - and that this consciousness can cut through a lot of the darkness that has been holding back the world. But this is a hope, not an expectation - it isn't healthy to *expect* any one person to save us. However good a president he may be, we're going to have to do a lot of the work ourselves...

  5. Great comments, guys! I think we all more or less agree. There is a tendency for any desperate nation or group (c.f. religious cults) to put too much expectation on a leader. I think as a humanist, this is what I find the scariest. Of course, as Simon says it would be silly to blame Obama for any dark times ahead. I don't necessarily put all that much faith in clairvoyant people either, but it is kind of interesting that he's often being seen as an instrument of counter forces. It could be that all this is, is just the typical human way of polarizing reality into a one or the other type of constellation. I do find this guy quite attractive and am obviously releived that a coloured person has finally gotten some foothold in that society. But as we all know that doesn't mean much when it comes down to the actual reformations and changes that need to be done. I understood that he's not interested in nationalizing healthcare? Gotta try and find some real info on that one, since it's quite an important issue on the day-to-day level of Americans.

    Unfortunately, I've missed some TV shows about him as that might have helped me form an opinion. I just noticed that his book is actually called "Dreams from my father" in English. This is interesting because in Swedish it was translated as "My father had a dream". When my mother told me this we agreed that it was somewhat ass kissing (which obviously the original was not if it's true). So we'll see. Thanks a lot for providing with your viewpoints, they are greatly appreciated as it certainly is hard to find solid information anywhere!

  6. Oh, and Simon - I have been really really washed out and bogged down lately so maybe it's not just the darkness of this month here in this bleak country. I'm so bad at following blogs simply out of fatigue from remaining on the computer for long, but I should just decide on a few I guess. I got curious as to what kind of havoc or otherwise is going on on your blog so I should have a look ;-). I hope you're hanging in there and would be curious to know how you're REALLY doing if you feel like communicating about it :-). Cheers!

  7. WoW,let's not forget that this man is human, prone to mistakes just like the rest of us. It seems as if some of us are sitting back with rope in our hands, waiting for that mistake. The promises he has made, are not outlandish by no means. He has simply, judging by the past speeches I've heard, trying to bring unity to a country that is dividing itself into ruins. We are so caught up with individualism and survival of the fittest, cleverest, strongest in this country, that we forget that we are one country. for that matter, one world. Where people see darkness and dispair, I choose to see holiness and determination. People deserve their chance to shine without judgment from the masses. Reality is, whether he does a great , job, or screws everything up, millions of americans are still going to sit at home, complain, and keep living out their days. Everyone hopes for something better. It seems that the more hope we have, the more pessemistic we become. Optimism should be what grows with statements of hope. This brings one statement to mind by Neale Donald Walch, author of conversations with god, "...Imagine if everything you thought was wrong, was actually right." There is one more comment I'd like to add, just because I thinkit's relevant, "all your thought are based either in love or fear. The thought that is based in love is usually the truest thought."

  8. Well, it's February now. Looks the the USA is 'back to business'. I think the savior role was fun, but there's work to be done.

  9. Vivi-Mari,
    Being American I can tell you that part of it is just plain relief that the right-wing religious conservative party did not win the presidency. People are desperate, and hoping for change... then along comes a member of a minority group, well-spoken and mannered, seemingly intelligent, who promises just that. I'm not at all surprised that he won the election. I, however, did not vote. I feel the two-party system is deeply flawed in this country, and to call the US a democracy is laughable! I could go on all day, but in the end, it is about the people holding the public servants (including the almighty president) accountable, and guiding them to do the things that WE want them to do. People in this country have to organize, and grow a spine again. We have to force issues with Obama, or he will lean right as all our other presidents have for years and years.
    -a citizen of the republic

  10. Anonymous,
    thank you for your comment - it sounds about right. :-)

  11. Vivi-Mari

    I share your concerns. It is beyond the power of any one man to bring about social change of any magnitude without making a connection to or building a mass social movement.

    I felt deeply uncomfortable and somewhat unconvinced of Obama's campaign messages of "Hope", "Change" and "Believe!"

    Change to what? Hope for what? Believe in what?

    They are all very potent messages, since anyone confronted by hardship and difficulty, in worrying about their future, their family and whether their home mortgage might be foreclosed, might wish for a change in their personal circumstances, might wish to hope for a better life, might wish to believe in their own future.

    Is this what Obama is promising?

    The power of his meaningless messages is that you can believe in and hope for whatever you want them to mean.

    We’ve been here before.

    The hero is a mythical archetype vested deep in our culture. It's characterised by an infantilism which seeks the benign, loving parent...frequently the male parent. The belief in the hero draws on the comfort of parent and child. It is, and has been historically, a means of denying personal and social responsibility. No matter how competent, intelligent and capable, Obama is, he will neither rescue our world or our lives. Neither he, nor anyone else can do that.

    There are not so many options available to government or politicians either. Government is not, as I believe will be shown in time, able to overwhelm or control a world based on market economics (combined historically with the exercise of military force).

    I feel that big change is on the way. It's not through a belief in the predictions of the Mayan calendar, but the fact that our political, economic and social systems are crumbling before our eyes.

    We are consuming natural resources faster than we are replenishing them. To support the consumption rates of the USA presently requires two planet earths. We only have one. Like we borrowed money we don't have, we're heading towards an environmental credit crunch too. It's the same phenomenon based on greed and infinite economic expansion that is unsustainable.

    Where I'm drifting is that I don't see any real agenda for change to address these fundamental issues, not from Obama or anyone else. The story of the hero may be comforting, but it is not one I can believe in.

  12. Very poignant, Geoffrey. I have to say that whenever an American political campaing shows on TV, I turn it off. I simply cannot bear the jargon and hyped up promises that have nothing to do with reality - they are in fact highly abstract concepts that mean nothing at all just as you so eloquently put it. I have to say though that I don't exclude the fact that prophesies might have been made about the state of affairs during this historical time, and it's my understanding that no one pretend they happen BECAUSE of the prophesies. If they coincide, well, what's the big deal - it's not really terribly meaningful if it's not going to affect anything and could be taken as curiosa mostly. I guess that's what I do. It's like starsign; it's interesting to notice that people behave in accordance with their sign but it doesn't have to imply it's BECAUSE they are that sign (or signs, since it's not reduced to only one). This is how a sceptic would talk but the reality is, you might as well turn it all around and get a different cause/effect relationship. Similarly, with Obama; he's hardly going to save the world but the world is hardly going to go down because of him either. Too many other forces are at work. But it's true that people like to have one focus of hope, perhaps it alleviates their pain for a while. In my case it's just even worse when the disappointment sets in. But then you can always be in denial... haha...