Sunday, November 9, 2008

Democracy Taking Root

There is no way to describe the euphoria everywhere I've been this week. A cosmic shift has taken place and we know it. I'm basking in it and I know we all want to bask in it for as long as we can. But basking can only be the beginning, not the end. I believe, as does Colin Powell, that Obama is a transformational leader. I would add that I believe his election in this moment of national crisis is a gift from God.

I also believe, as does Barack Obama, that power does not concede and that the road ahead for this country is a steep and rocky one. Gifts from God are not to be hoarded. They are meant to inspire us to generosity and compassion and courage. And courage will be needed in the months to come. This is no time to gloat, no time to let up. This is a time to stand up and fight. We no longer have the excuse that nothing can change in the current administration. We have seen the grass-roots at work and we have begun to remember that we can make a difference.

But just in case you doubt it, let me recommend a stirring documentary. Taking Root: The Vision of Wangari Maathai won the award for best documentary at this weekend's Asheville Film Festival. The film looks not only at her work in the Greenbelt Movement, but also her grass-roots democratic work for better government. I have admired Maathai for years, but I learned more about her courage, her commitment, her suffering on behalf of Kenya and her impact on that nation than I ever knew. Weaving Kenyan political history through the story of her life and work, the film highlights the enormous obstacles she had to overcome to do her work of planting trees to re-forest her native land. It's a must-see for anyone who cares about the environment. It reminds us in no uncertain terms that it is WE THE PEOPLE who must save our land. We cannot wait for the government to do it. We are the ones we have been waiting for.

And, not to boast too much, but can I just say that seeing this film was the highlight of a wonderful weekend in a beautiful city? Honestly, I do live in the nicest place ever. The River Arts District Studio Stroll was this weekend and I met a fabulous artist who inspired me with her faith, as well as with her beautiful work. The Film Festival brought to town a host of independent movies that, unfortunately, probably won't be making it to your local multi-plex. My new neighborhood night club had a fun, funky dance band Friday night and my son's neighborhood school had a sweet, playful Fall Festival that made lots of money for our Title I school, which needs it, while demonstrating work on our cob shed in our organic garden. Plus, the weather has been just dog-gone beautiful.

OK, back to basking while I sweep the leaves off my deck.


pj said...

Blogger has eaten my comment. It went a little something like this:

1) Excellent post! Hear hear!

2) I once had the chance to hear Wangari Maathai speak, right in my own town, and I blew it.

3) Asheville is cool and I hope to get to visit someday.

!@*&%$!! Blogger. :(

lauraj said...

I say this is no time to gloat and then I gloat about my weekend. Sorry. Sometimes I just get carried away.

Sorry you missed seeing her. I've missed seeing all sorts of great people --usually by pure laziness. The film should be out on DVD in January.

Please visit Asheville. Please, please. I'm imagining a Spring trip to NY. I want to go to a retreat in Dingman's Ferry, PA and I figure once I've come that far, I should make it a vacation and visit you and the Big A and maybe some of the other bloggers up that way. Whatcha think?

pj said...

Whaddoo I think? Hell yeah!!

I really would also like to visit Asheville. Being married, however, it's kind of weird to say, "hey Mr. PJ, mind if I go out of town for a few days?" Hmmm. I guess I could bring him with me... nah.