Progressive Revival

Dear Mr. President-Elect,

It is hard to believe that it has just been two weeks since
your historic election.   
There has been so much discussion in this country about what this election
signifies, from what we hope is the beginning of healing of our racial wounds,
to the emergence of a new face of America that actually reflects our diverse

And yet this is not just about America.   This is also about the world, and
our place in this world community.  
What we saw in the hours and the days after your election was a jubilant
face of the world community, celebrating America’s triumph in this election.   We saw the joyous dancing in your
other homeland, Kenya, even the declaring of a national holiday there.   Friends traveling through
Malaysia and Thailand told me about how strangers came up to them in an
airport, with a huge smile, and the one word that they had in common:   “Obaaamaaa, Obaaaaamaaa!”.     

Did you know that your election was front-page news in Iran,
and celebrated by people there as well? In a touching nod towards Martin Luther King, Jr., the
headlines in a Canada newspaper read “A Dream Fulfilled.”  In China Daily, the headlines were
“Change has Come.”  In Germany, the
response of gratitude was more literal: 
“Danke, Mr. President.” 
Hindustan Times read: 
“Change has Come to America.” The paper al-Safir in Lebanon read:  “Obama brings America to peace with
itself….and the world.” Another European newspaper’s headline said it most directly: “Eight
years of hell are over!”

The Republicans (and a few Democrats) tried to mock your
cosmopolitan heritage, and make “Barack Hussein Obama” into a smear.  Something funny happened as soon as you
were elected:  in so many headlines
around the world, “Barack Hussein Obama” became not a smear, but a sign of a
newfound cosmopolitanism, one to be celebrated indeed.   The majority of papers in the
Middle East used this phrase, and honored your heritage on both your father’s
and your mother’s sides.   

There was another time in which the world seemed so
united. It wasn’t so
long ago, though it feels like so long ago:The immediate days after 9/11. We remember those as the days of our national
grief, but in reality there was also an outpouring of affection and grief from
people all over the world. Nor did it just come from people whose political orientation was aligned
with us. Do you
remember the candle-light vigil in the streets of Tehran? Do you remember the Tibetan nuns
sitting in silence, mourning? Do you remember how every Palestinian school child stood for minutes of
silence to express how they too shared in our sorrow?    We had the world community with us, until the
Bush administration blew it, one by one alienating the world one step at a

Bush came into the White House talking about how he wanted
to be a uniter.  And he was.     He so alienated the
world community that they were all united in hating us–or rather, our
policies. You, Mr. President, have a golden moment.   You have the support of people in this country, and in
the world community. Here is
hoping that your choices are wiser and more compassionate that than of your

And let us know how we can help. We do not wish to be the rogues of the world
community, nor do we wish to be “the Empire” dominating the world and imposing
its will.    We want to
be a responsible member of the world community, paying our dues, and working
hand in hand with others in returning to an ethic of sharing and
generosity.  Lead us,
and we will follow.   

Now is the time. Now is the time to build on the good will
of the world community. The
“fierce urgency of the now” that you spoke about so eloquently indeed is now. 

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