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Obama Hope or Delusion

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Obama Hope or Delusion in Brooklyn

“Hope is a longing for a future condition over which you have no agency.”
-Derrick Jensen

Hope is still in the air, in the minds, and on the lips of Brooklyn as a seemingly competent, articulate, and worldly man was elected as president of the USA. In my era these attributes in a president are certainly an oddity.
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Wade from Vagabond Journey.com
in Brooklyn, New York City- November 20, 2008
Travelogue Travel Photos
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But I must wonder what Obama has done to be riding on such high seas of hope and expectation. . . .

As I was walking today I saw a poster for sale in a shop window that had Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Jessie Jackson, and other big heroes of human rights movements displayed in all out glory. But what was interesting about this poster was that an incredibly huge face of Barak Obama was superimposed above all of these other humanitarian leaders. What has Obama done to be depicted as four times larger than Gandhi? How could he even be compared?

This strikes me as being a little odd, but this is the symbol that Barak Obama radiates.

How could anyone put Obama in such company, let alone show him as rising above the greatest leaders of social movements that the modern world has ever known? I would not be surprised if the street vendors begin selling portraits of Obama superimposed next to Jesus.

Obama the savior.

“Obama speaks for me,” I read on a sign in a shop window this morning as I walked the gauntlet of Obama posters, t-shirts, books, and other paraphernalia on my way through Brooklyn. I saw another poster of a big Barak Obama head dominating over two little tiny Martin Luther King and JFK portraits. Barak Obama is a hero, though one that I have no idea what he has done. Yes, he has been elected president of the USA, which is of course no small feat, but he is still just a president. He has not fought in the streets, he has not lead a million oppressed people in the struggle for liberty, and he has not risked life and limb on the front lines of any real social movement (and I am not of the impression that he is inclined to do so). But regardless, Obama has been paraded as a hero.

As of now, it is my impression that the Obama persona has rocketed far beyond life and into the realm of symbolism, and symbols have no intrinsic value in and of themselves. Heroes often serve as symbols, but I am not sure if a symbol alone can be called a hero.

Many African Americans seem to think that Obama will save them because his skin is dark, and many Africans in Africa think that he is going to save them because his dad was from Kenya. “Obama cares about Africa because he is black.” Maybe this is true, but George Bush is white and I never had the impression he cared about me.

People are celebrating the coming of the “Great Black Hope,” as the slogan goes. On the evidence that I am shown this makes little sense to me and, bluntly speaking, I become a little frightened when populations embrace their political leaders so excessively. Far too often have men been paraded into power on the backs of high expectations only to let down the people who put them there.

Hope is valuable only if it serves to fertilize action, and by action I mean provoking people to take responsibility for their lives and help themselves.

I believe strongly that politicians do not help anyone.

Presidents do not save anyone.

People help themselves.

Though I am pleased that the USA has a president that can construct a complete sentence, knows geography, has lived all over the world, studied other cultures and religions, and seems to have a good sense of the geo-political order of the planet we live on.

Or so I hope.

Related Pages:
Obama Celebration in Brooklyn
Photo of Obama
Obama the End of the Whinge
Derrick Jensen

Links to previous travelogue entries:
Studying to be an English Teacher
Tourist Guilt and Helping the Poor
Travel to Central Asia Western China or Middle Eas

Obama Hope or Delusion in Brooklyn
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Filed under: New York City, USA

About the Author:

Wade Shepard is the founder and editor of Vagabond Journey. He has been traveling the world since 1999, through 76 countries. He is the author of the book, Ghost Cities of China, and contributes to Forbes, The Diplomat, the South China Morning Post, and other publications. has written 3048 posts on Vagabond Journey. Contact the author.

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