I really wasn’t expecting the flood of emotions that came over me tonight after watching the Obama speech but also after letting it all sync in.
I was filled with these intense flashbacks to my old “apartment” (it was a doctors office that was formerly a house that had once again become a “live/work” space) – the day that 9/11 happened. I was JUST out of college – I had spent the summer at UC Berkeley taking the Haas School of Business intensive 9 unit summer program for undergraduates called BASE – Business for Arts Science and Engineering Majors. I had just driven to Canada with my boyfriend of 2 years to pick up my stuff and “move in”. I had been to one day on my first job – September 10th (I was working at the Metta Center for Noviolence Education – a nonprofit founded by my Gandhian Professor – Micheal Nagler). [[Yes, I do believe in both business and making the world better. They are not mutually exclusive.]]
I remember getting the e-mail from one of the foreign students from the BASE program – a German – he wrote this e-mail saying he hoped non of us or our families were affected by the event. I was like “what event” and went to find out. I was stunned – here I was on my second day of my first job and this happened and the organization was focused on teaching people about nonviolence. Part of the trigger is the feeling that now the cloud that descended with 9-11 I have felt we have been in since then was lifting with Obama’s election.
At that time I was just beginning to live with my boyfriend and we were planning to get married some time. I had a lot of memories flood me of that house and our time there.
It was before my cancer – I was diagnosed and treated for Hodgkins Lymphoma in 2002 (average age 25 – I was 25 – it is very treatable – 95% cure rate – I am past the 5y mark now I should be ok for sure now).
I was walking down the hill tonight – to the party in the street thinking about this about how just this last month I actually thought about not paying my health insurance – it is higher then my rent – it costs $640 a month – because of the cancer I am “uninsurable” – so I can’t give it up or I will never be able to get it again. The reason I thought about not paying it – the economic crisis and well being able to survive for longer if I don’t have work. I thought about my mother and her care and death. She died when I was 18 from an aggressive breast cancer and I know she got good care (in Canada)- I know if I was in Canada when I had my cancer I would have gotten good care. We were always raised to value the way health care happened in Canada to treasure the fact that our family and nobodies family would ever go without care and would not go bankrupt. I thought about the hope that I now have that maybe I will not have to feel so vulnerable here.
This evening got to thinking again about a post I have been thinking about since last week. I was moved by Phil’s post about his weighing of the candidates. I work closely with Phil to put on IIW and it got me thinking about negatives I hadn’t really seen with Obama until he pointed them out.
But that doesn’t disguise the fact that Obama is the most anti-business, pro-government (and those two don’t always go together) Presidential candidate in my memory. He has no business experience to speak of and—more to the point—his other experience is in organizations that are almost vehement in their anti-business rhetoric and activity.
I find the progressive left intolerable in its anti-business energy. It is small businesses that run this country and provide much of what we use to sustain ourselves – they feed us, cloth us etc etc. I have been friends with many in the Social Venture community – I first went to the fall SVN conference in 2003. Many of them were pioneers 20 years ago founding many brands the natural foods industry and they have been an organization for 20y. I really believe that business can do good and make money. I can only hope that the Obama actually gets some people in there who understand business and that this is a pro – small – green – tech – good – all kinds of – business administration.
One of things that makes me think things will be ok is how he dealt with being the head of the Harvard Law Review – he got there with the support of the conservatives and he appointed many of them to the editorial board.
The party outside the Elephant Pharmacy near downtown Berkeley was GREAT! The energy was super fun. It felt a little like being on the Playa (at Burning Man) but it was out in the streets. People were soooo happy. It reminded me of the need for public celebration and a book I read this year Dancing in the Streets: A History of Collective JOy by Barbare Ehrenreich (you might know more well known books published in the last few years Nickeled and Dimed and Bait and Switch). We need to get out and celebrate as people to be with each other in our neighborhoods and be joyful.
There is much to be done – Barack can’t do this – it isn’t for big government – we must work together. We must use digital tools to organize (and maybe use – all this identity stuff we all have been working on) to self organize – to help us work together in our communities.
At the National Coalition on Dialogue and Deliberation that I attended last month there was a panel of conservatives talking about why they were involved in the Dialogue movement and what the issues were with the dialogue movement’s progressive lean. Language is quite important – community organizing can sound like we are going to “organize” the people and then tell them what they should think – rather then how they can work together in community without “government”. I hope we can find ways to reach across the divides in this country by finding ways to talk with each other that are not alienating and polarizing.
I am applying for citizenship next year and feel full of joy and excitement that Obama will be the President under whom I will become a citizen. I really HOPE things can be better in the world now and better in America with this new presidency.