As the euphoria over the Obama victory mellows down, I am still on a slow burn. I know this historical event which I was witness to, will remain a corner of hope and inspiration, in my heart and mind for decades to come.
Why did the Obama victory have such an universal appeal? Taking my own case for starters, I am political but not have been an avid follower of the ups and downs of the Republicans and the Democrats. But the Obama victory was beyond simple politics. Or that is how I choose to interpret it. It was about possibilities. It was about really believing in your dreams and it was about dreams coming true.
Keeping aside the fact that is is being considered one of the best run election campaigns in years and the fact that the economy lead to people clamoring for a change lets look at the other side of the story. A people's journey from the shores of Africa, shackled and treated worse than animals, completely stripped of basic human rights and dignity. A life of abject poverty and misery. The 'negro' staggered along what he considered his destiny. But many amongst them refused to submit and thus started the civil rights movement. The long fight for freedom, equality and opportunity began.So many names and so many historic milestones in that long and arduous journey.
The point being that someone or some people refused to believe that some thing or anything was unattainable. They dared to dream and their dreams were backed by courage and conviction. Obama is the climax to that dream. He has a tough task ahead. But I am not here to discuss that today. I want to speak about the tears flowing freely from the eyes of civil rights activists that election night, when the results were declared. I saw redemption unfolding slowly but surely. I saw a sparkle in the eyes of the African Americans. The next morning I saw them holding their heads a little higher, and noticed a skip in their steps. And I rejoiced with them.
I imagined this is what my country must have looked like, my countrymen must have felt the same range of emotions and more on 15Th August 1947. They must have felt invincible and unstoppable. A victory over the strongest imperial nation. Freedom from centuries of foreign rule, 347 years to be exact. A nation with leaders like Gandhi who were a force to reckon with and changed history forever. Gandhi inspired freedom movement in South Africa and also the Civil Rights Movement in US of A.
Our freedom fighters left us a legacy. A legacy to believe in oneself, to dream and to go after those dreams with courage and conviction. A dream that is India united in all its diversity. A dream which hangs by a thin thread today.So what stops us? Why is it easier to blame the system, the politics, the society versus owning up to the fact that we are a part of that very system, politics and society. We have taken for granted a freedom so hard fought. We shrink everyday into our little religious, regional, caste, class linguistic and cultural groups. We fail to rise and expand beyond these compartmentalizations. We love to discuss all that is wrong over a hot cup of tea without taking onus for anything. We refuse to take action till the bullet hits home. As long as its the neighbor who took the bullet we do not feel the need to act.
We do not vote. If we vote, we vote for our relative, "jaat wala" or someone who hails from our village/town/city. We choose to ignore the fact that the man/woman we voted for with whom we share the last name will do no justice to the position we are putting him in.
I think its high time we too voted for change, voted for hope,voted for freedom, voted for our children, voted for peace and harmony, voted for a better tomorrow. Let us rise above our affiliations and vote for content and character.