Doin’ The Time

I am “DOIN’ THE TIME.” I am educating myself on Barack Obama. I am 70 pages into his first book, “Dreams From My Father”, and even though I still have about 400 pages to go, I already have a much better understanding of his goals, his background, the effect of his upbringing on his current philosophies and policies, his personal and political motivations and finally, his dedication to what is right, moral and beneficial for the greater good.

He lived in Indonesia from the time he was six years old until he was nine. His mother had remarried and his stepfather, Lolo, brought the family there to live with him in his native land. Lolo taught him, in a nutshell, to always be “strong”, yet know when reconciliation is a better tactic than force. This is the basis for Obama’s character and thus, his actions. It has made his moves of the last few weeks more understandable to me, less disappointing.

For example, Obama now wears a lapel flag pin because the fuss, time and effort explaining why he previously did not wear the pin wasted too much valuable time. This race is not about lapel jewelery, and so the issue has been put to rest. In a more meaningful vein, this campaign’s constant back and forth on which candidate is more patriotic is just downright silly and prevents the discussion of real issues. When will people reaIize that patriotism isn’t about just war, but most definitely about keeping the peace? It reminds me of two kids on a playground arguing about some inane matter: “I am bigger than you”. “You are not.” “Am too.” “Are not.” What a waste of time.

John McCain wastes a lot of time with useless comments and thus, Obama wastes his time countering those claims. Stephanie Miller, a Los Angeles based host of a Progressive talk show, has dubbed McCain “Grampy McSame”. Perfect characterization. I just can not find any substance to his speeches. For some reason, the media is not picking up on this emptiness. Besides appearing weak physically, he presents a very, very weak grasp of all the issues. It seems to me that while he can show a little knowledge on military affairs, he demonstrates a huge lack of any kind of understanding of the economy, international relations with countries such as Afghanistan and Pakistan (important players in today’s world balance of power), not to mention the different social and religious factions in Iraq, and the daily living hardships of average Americans who are struggling severely due to the mortgage and oil crisis. Whiners? I don’t think so. Not all Americans are married to an independently wealthy spouse. All he can show some interest in and comprehension of is WAR; get in there and show our strength, kill those who stand in our way (never mind about the innocent civilians), sacrifice however many of our young people is necessary to maintain some sort of ridiculous image of our world superiority. Its NOT about image; its about substance. McCain’s concentration solely on killing and destruction is not only counterproductive to peace and prosperity, but also is a tactic that is outdated and useless in today’s world. Even though his military record from 40 years ago is admirable, it does not automatically qualify him for the top leadership position in today’s changing world. I simply have not been able to find any substance to John McCain.

Thus, McCain has one very limited strength, and that is his military experience. Obama needs to hit him HARD right smack dab in the middle of this “strength”. How many of you are aware of McCain’s unsympathetic voting record on veteran affairs and benefits? He almost always has voted AGAINST financial support and aid for those young people in military service who actually do all the killing and destroying.

So the next time you listen to Grampy McSame, see if you can discern any substance and understanding of the real serious issues affecting our country. I don’t know if this shortcoming is due to age, lack of mental acuity or a resistance to learning the facts. All I know is that it is a blatant omission from his campaigning.

On to Jesse Jackson, who uttered an insulting remark about Obama when he thought the microphone was off. This misstep is very telling to me because since he thought the mike was not hot, he actually spoke his true feelings. And those feelings toward Obama are very simple to understand: Jackson is just plain jealous of Obama and where he’s headed. Everything Obama stands for and will ultimately attain is exactly what Jackson wanted for himself. Contrary to Jackson’s opinion that Obama was talking down to African Americans, I agree with the likes of Bill Cosby and Obama who have voiced the belief that African American men are irresponsible regarding their family obligations. Not only do those Black men (and this is a vast generalization) who father children and then leave deem their offspring as another trophy comparable to a very fancy pair of sneakers, but also their women who have these children think that it is cool and quite trendy to speak about “my baby’s daddy”, even though he is nowhere to be found. I think they mean “my sperm donor”, and feel this child is equal to a piece of bling, something to raise one’s status. In reality, this child needs a mother AND father. You gotta “DO THE TIME.” Until the Black community, individually and at large, provide this stability for their children and change their mindset, break the cycle of absentee parenthood, no status-seeking behavior will compensate for the moral, social and real esteem building growth necessary to prepare these kids for productive lives. So Mr. Jesse Messy Jackson, cool your heels and listen to Obama. Certainly your decades long tirade that the there is an evil force, an “outside” force that has held African Americans down, including creating the circumstances that created the absence of a nuclear family, is not the whole truth. Changes have to come from WITHIN first. Each person has to uplift themself before they can uplift their circumstances.

This brings me back to Barack. In the book I am reading, I am only up to Obama in his teen years. His biological father, who left his family when Barack was two years old, returned for a visit when the child was about ten. During this visit, Obama had his first realizations about his race. As this story line evolves in the book, I will speak more to this issue in later postings.

However, with just 70 pages behind me, I am understanding better Obama’s actions of the last few weeks, i.e. his support of FISA, faith-based social initiatives and his stance on the war in Iraq. At first glance, some people might agree with the Republicans that Obama is flip-flopping. Just as in the lapel flag to-do, first they say when he DOESN’T wear the pin, that he is not patriotic. Then when he DOES wear the pin, they say he is flip-flopping. Is this the best the Republicans have? To go on and on about lapel jewelery? What a meaningful and relevant campaign issue!

Based on his stepfather Lolo’s advice to be strong but temper that strength with moderation and smarts, Obama made a reasonable decision on FISA, which would protect the public utilities from privacy law suits on behalf of individuals. Since 9/11, we have had to maintain a heightened security system. I just hope FISA will not tread on innocent people’s constitutional rights. But I am going with Obama on this one. Call it holding faith.

Regarding faith-based government programs, I am torn about that. This country is running out of money between the two war fronts we are supporting and the multiple bail-outs (the mortgage industry, foreclosure saves, Bear Stearns, now Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and who knows how many other banks will go down the tubes). So, even though the Republicans would never vote for social program support in GOOD times, those programs are especially not at the head of the list right now. Look at The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Warren Buffett and other huge philanthropists who have virtually taken over starting and running charities dedicated to medical and social issues. Heaven knows our government isn’t (or can’t) going to do it. So along with these very generous organizations, there might very well be a place for faith-based groups to do some good. I only hope that included in this help there won’t be indoctrination to those groups’ tenets. It is a very slender line between faith-based welfare and separation of church and state.

But the reality is what Obama sees, and his “change” on withdrawing immediately from Iraq is reasonable also. Since the primary race, there have been some good changes in Iraq: the surge seems to have worked and the Iraqi government has stabilized, although both events must be labelled as “somewhat”. Obama now believes that a slower, more gradual pullout would be beneficial. Once again, I get his change of policy.

This world is NOT a static place. Circumstances are constantly changing. Thus, policy must adapt. I do not see Obama’s decisions of the last few weeks as flip-flopping; I see them as necessary for peace and prosperity. Obama’s intellectual capacity, his great strength tempered by reality, change and hope have taught me a lot this last month. I am working hard to understand this man.

What follows is a new song, written and performed by my daughter. It is called “Minnesota”, paying homage to the night in that state when Barack Obama declared his win as the Democratic nominee for the Presidency of the United States of America —– “that’s the change we need, Minnesota”. My daughter says that the song is “a little dark but ultimately uplifting. Like America.” Its about children, peace, hope and change. I see it as a bit of a lump-in-the-throat, pull-at-the-heartstrings throwback to the classic antiwar folk songs of the 1960’s. But it is also a timeless song because it speaks to universal principles. I am so very proud of my girl: not only for following her dreams and succeeding at being personally productive, but also for caring about things outside of herself. Her convictions for the greater good are clear in this song. She is sure of herself. She is the face of change. And she is SO worth it. It does a parent’s heart good to see the results of “DOIN’ THE TIME.”

And thank you Barack Obama for bringing us all together —– family, community and, hopefully, the world.

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One Response to “Doin’ The Time”

  1. amy lilley Says:

    she’s a brilliant musician as you are a writer…looking forward to more and more and more…from both of you…I pray, pray, pray…

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