Progressive Revival

My friend Kathering Marshal, wrote this on her Faith in Action blog on Washington Post On Faith.  It’s interesting that both domestically and internationally the flip side of hope is beginning to show – fear.

After the euphoria that greeted America’s presidential election, I was a bit taken aback to discern a tremor of concern rippling through a group of religious leaders from every corner of the world gathered in Cyprus this week. Their worry: expectations are so high that Barack Obama simply cannot meet them. As I pushed back against that assumption, I could see that our historic election has raised not just expectations for what the United States will do, but what people hope and expect from their own governments.

The group in question is the extraordinary annual gathering to foster peace in the world organized by a Catholic lay group, the Community of Sant’Egidio. This year it is in Cyprus, an island that reeks of history and also of religious conflict. But more on that in a later piece. First I want to examine the current of unease that I sensed almost from touching down at the airport.

The excitement about America’s new direction is certainly still there. Especially among younger people, there is a sense that dreams are now possible. The symbol of the black American president-elect is powerful for people of all races and religions. The image of the United States as an insensitive bully is receding. But it goes far beyond that. Once again, American ideals mean something.

The doubts I heard from my colleagues are tied to the extraordinary hopes that the election unleashed – hopes that real “change” can come not just to the United States but also to the world. A new social justice. A new democracy. A new voice for the voiceless. A new hope for jobs. A new hope to travel. A new hope for respect for cultures. A new hope for caring for others and a release from suffering. Africans in particular feel a special promise, but it goes far beyond Africa to Asia, and even Europe, where people are pausing to ask what indeed might happen if…

And what if the hopes are so high that they cannot be fulfilled, especially during this time of economic upheaval? That’s what’s worrying these religious leaders. The hopes have by now spread to all political leaders and systems. So what happens when reality returns, and tomorrow we all face the the same problems we had before?

Stay tuned.

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