I’ve been feeling optimistic about America lately. So used to the conspiracy-theory, all-going-down, corruption-everywhere thinking, it has been refreshing to feel some mainstream hope.
Obama is part of it—but more so it’s that a majority of voters chose someone like him. The fact that there is a black man leading America is grounds for rejoicing in itself. I am happy for minorities in this country, for Muslims, for Hispanics, for Blacks, for everyone. It is so revitalizing to hear someone talk and make an iota of sense, especially after hearing Bush for the last eight years. I agree with a lot of people that there is only so much one man can do, especially in a political system filled with landmines, but I like to think of Gladwell’s The Tipping Point at times like this.
Maybe Obama will not be the one to create the change, but he will create enough hope and excitement that Americans will know that principled stands and peace are within our reach. The hope will become mainstream. And there will be more indignation the next time someone like Bush or Cheney walks center stage. More anti-war activists. A movement starts.
One man would not be able to create a climate of hope and optimism unless there was a groundswell that came from the bottom up. Witnessing that surge is what makes me dare to hope.
Cynicism is so entrenched in the Muslim community, and I don’t blame us. We’re used to being under fire, accused, tried, vilified. The alienation is worsened when we see ourselves as a self-contained subset of America, neither part of it nor outside. But that cynicism and isolation actually give us an easy break. When we see nothing but a massive, sinking ship, it gives us an excuse to be paralyzed and contain our Islamic work to serve just the closest circles within the Muslim community.
Optimism, I think, may help change that. When we see good struggling to break free in front of our eyes, how is it that we can we just watch?