Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Captain Obama

I try to steer clear of politics as much as possible, but I suppose that some mention must be made of today. After all, ultimately, this blog is for my son - so he will know who we were, what our life was like and what was happening during his childhood.

Because I work in a TV station, almost every office in the building has a television set. When I arrived this morning, I turned mine on to the local weather channel (brrr... 35!) and left it there as company as I started my day.

Suzanne came through and was turning everyone's TVs to CNN or MSNBC or CSpan - somewhere that was doing inaugural coverage. "You have to at least see some of it!!!" was her explanation.

I suppose she's right. I would glance up at the tv every now and then to see what was going on. There was the parade of presidents (the living ones that showed up for the inauguration ceremonies). And pictures of the crowded mall and people-lined streets. And the "beast" carrying President Bush and Barak Obama to the Capitol. Everytime I looked at the tv, my eyes filled with tears and I had to swallow past the sudden lump that formed there.

"This is so silly!" I thought to myself, and got up to find a cup of coffee and walk it off. Of course I had to make a pot, as ours was sitting on a cold warmer with a little puddle of brown at the bottom. While it was brewing, I walked around a bit. Jenn was sitting in her office looking quite smashing for a regular workday. My raised eyebrow brought the explanation that she'd been invited to an inauguration party, but wasn't feeling like going now. She also was fighting the urge to cry when looking at the TV. How odd.

I walked a little farther down the hall and told Betsy that I'd made a fresh pot of coffee, then went and retrieved my cup, put coffee in it and headed back down towards my office.

Downstairs, we have a lobby for guests waiting to go into the studio. It has a big, widescreen TV in it, and some chairs. Mostly, it's a really wide space in the hallway. Tasha was sitting in one of the chairs and had tuned the TV to inauguration stuff. I sat down and joined her. Then Betsy showed up and dragged over a chair. Then Amy and Rob, and Darin. A regular little audience was forming. Tasha said all we needed was popcorn.

Of course, we have a big popcorn machine. There's only one person in the building who knows how to make the popcorn without burning it, so Tasha went off in search of Ray, who abandoned his HDTV to come make popcorn for us! After the popcorn was passed out, he beat it back to his fancier TV to watch, and our numbers in the lobby were growing. Suzanne showed up. And Jennifer. And Michelle. And Elizabeth. Mike passed through, as did Charles and a few other people.

Without thought or plan, we gathered together to watch Barack Obama become our 44th president. We clapped for Aretha and that marvelous music with Itzak Perlman and Yo Yo Ma, we listened to the speakers and Obama with rapt attention. Being in TV, when the camera was caught on a quick zoom in to focus, we all groaned at once (yep... we see every production mistake). Tasha brought out a box of tissues (which got used up).

When it was over, there was a collective sigh and smiles all around.

It's hard not to be affected when the world changes.


That's what happened today. Not only was a black man elected president, but we got a good talkin' to. Like somewhat naughty children, who've been sneaking cookies out of a cookie jar when we know we're not supposed to, we've had our hands gently smacked, been reminded that we need to EARN those cookies and not just take them or expect them to be given to us. That it's time to pull up our bootstraps and start making wiser choices about everything because if we eat all the cookies, there won't be much left for anyone else and we'll only make ourselves sicker. Silly as it seems, it's an apt analogy. And we listened to Obama just like we listen to Mom because even if we don't want to hear it, we know she's right and has our best interests at heart. And we want to do the right thing.

Last weekend, I watched a Star Trek episode on the DVR. It was one that I'd never really paid much attention to - The Empath. There wasn't much action, the dialogue was low-key. I almost erased it without watching because I remembered how boring it was when I was younger. But I watched it anyway.

In this episode, Kirk, Spock and McCoy beam down to a planet and find themselves in an underground chamber with a mute woman (Gem). Two other humanoids with large heads appear, and take Kirk away to torture him.


When they bring him back, Gem heals him. Turns out Gem is a full empath, capable of taking injuries to herself and healing her subject. The Vians (the large-head guys) then tell Kirk he must choose one of his men to be the next test subject. Each man volunteers, but McCoy wins by anesthetizing both Spock and Kirk, and is taken away by the Vians. When he is returned to them, McCoy is near death.

Gem wants to heal him, but is afraid.

The Vians explain to them that they are testing Gem to see if her people are worthy as a species to be saved from their doomed sun. They are testing Gem's capacity for compassion and self-sacrifice. Because she saw the example of Kirk, Spock and McCoy's love for one another and their willingness to sacrifice themselves so that the others might live, she overcame her fears. Gem heals McCoy and the Vians decide that her species is to be saved.

I haven't been able to stop thinking about this Star Trek episode ever since.

I suppose my mind has drawn some parallels here between the Empath and the election of Barack Obama.

This nation has been teetering on the edge of disaster for a while now. Some of it is bad policy, bad executive decisions, but some of it is of our own doing. Like Gem, we have been tested to see if we're worth saving. And our own actions, electing Obama and coming together as a nation will be our saving grace.

I can tell you that my own feelings of hope for the future have increased dramatically since last November. I don't feel like this country is strung up from the ceiling anymore, that a time of healing has finally arrived.

It won't be smooth sailing immediately. There's a lot of work to do, lots of lines to untangle, problems to solve before our rough seas subside, but the effort will be worth it. Would it have happened without Barack Obama? Eventually, sure. But with him as our captain, we may get there a lot faster and with fewer losses.

Full steam ahead.


Floridacracker said...

You had me at real popcorn, not that microwave garbage, but then when you wove in the REAL Star Trek ... well, I had to read this excellent post in entirety.
Good job Sayre, so many true and well written points in there.

Jan said...

Great post, Sayre. It's been tough all over, and I think the world is excited about what's going on here. I know I'm excited.

Faye said...

You're so right with your analogy of Obama's speech, Sayre. We did get a good talkin' to and not a minute too soon. During the election season I grew weary of all of the "hope" rhetoric, but I'm totally supporting Obama now. I think he's dead serious about helping turn this country around.

karisma said...

Oh Sayre, only you could bring things back to Star Trek! (Okay only you and a gazillion other nerds out there! LOL) I have to admit even we sat up last night waiting to watch it all happen. Unfortunately it was stinking hot, our TV felt the need to cover the "hours" beforehand, I fell asleep "eventually" to my usual "sleepy" state! And woke up when it was all over! Oh diddums! I am however, TV aside very happy for you all! I see great things for this man! He is wonderful! I hope he gets the chance to show everyone! Congratulations to you all! Hugs xxx

nikki said...

My whole office went down to the local bar & grill to watch. The place was packed. People were crying and clapping. It was an amazing day.

Cruise Mom said...

Sayre, I love this post! I agree that the President gave a speech we all need to hear, and we need to get over our sense of entitlement. Government alone cannot fix this country -- we all need to do our part.

Nona said...

I loved the cookie analogy and the Star Trek story. Really lovely post.

There were televisions set up all over the college yesterday ... even in the library!?!? I was quite surprised. From the news I gather that almost the whole world was watching. How incredible!!!

I didn't get a chance to watch because I was teaching all day, but I just caught recorded coverage at BBC on-line. I think it was a very multi-layered, nuanced, sober and thought provoking speech.

My only hope is that he is turns out to truly be a person of integrity and vision and governs from that position.