It’s a New Dawn, a New Day, a New Life

(Harvard Law School classmates Kenneth Mack and President Elect Barack Obama on Nov 4, 2008)

(Ken and Lisa Mack at President Elect Obama's speech in Grant Park, Chicago)

In April, I wrote about my childhood friend and high school classmate Kenneth Mack’s unique perspective (http://gswede-sunday.blogspot.com/2008/04/ken-mack-unique-perspective-on-barack.html) on Barack Obama; both having attended Harvard Law School at the same time and serving together on the Harvard Law Review.

Ken was the first call I made to America after Obama was elected the 44th President of the United States.

I got goose bumps receiving Ken’s email this week describing the election night festivities at Grant Park in Chicago as he was 50 feet (15 meters) away from Barack when he gave his historic speech! The picture above (hug) needs no words as most Americans, Swedes, Europeans and the World would embrace him in the same manner, especially knowing that there is now hope for a better tomorrow, inspiration to change or live your dream and relief that the last 8 years in Washington will soon be a thing of the past.

(The Promise of a New USA - The Swedish Newspaper "Dagens Nyheter" on November 6)

I wake up almost every day feeling good but this past week was slightly different as I had an extra bounce in my step and joy in my heart. Indeed, this is a proud moment for African-Americans but just as importantly, it’s a proud time for many other Americans and our brothers and sisters all over the world. Always being interested in others cultures, it warms my heart to see the love for Obama and what he represents pour in to me via calls/emails.

What may be lost in this well-deserved euphoria is the challenge that Barack Obama will place on Americans to improve in many aspects of life such as mentorship, the environment and sacrifice in general. Collectively, we must put more emphasis on impacting our country so we can help our new President Elect deliver on the “CHANGE” he wants to bring about.

The facts from the paragraph below are disturbing:

The black illegitimacy rate remains at 70%. Blacks did worse on the SAT in 2000 than in 1990. Fifty-five percent of all federal prisoners are black, though we are only 13% of the population. The academic achievement gap between blacks and whites persists even for the black middle class.
http://www.latimes.com/news/printedition/opinion/la-oe-steele5-2008nov05,0,1642069.story

Barack Obama cannot solve this troubling problem alone but he can be the inspiration for people to ACT and DO SOMETHING along with caring about other important ills that affect our country like obesity, the financial and housing crises, gas guzzling automobiles, bad parenting, lack of healthcare for millions and insufficient care for the youth and community around us. We all should be willing to make sacrifices for the betterment of America.

In addition, Americans MUST show more interest in the global world. I know many people who sadly have never been outside of the USA despite having the financial means, and far less than 25% of Americans even have a passport! I know our vast country has a lot to see but the disinterest in our fascinating world is disconcerting and has to get better.

The American Ambassador in Sweden, Michael Wood (friend of President Bush and whose wife voted for Obama) said this about the election result in the Swedish Newspaper "Dagens Nyheter":

“I am uplifted, enthusiastic, I think it’s fantastic! I think about my black friends that I played basketball with at home in Flint, Michigan, and of my black friends at Yale when I was 20”.

I am proud of Americans for having the courage and intellect to set our country on a new path by electing Barack Obama. John McCain may have done a decent job as president but it was clear from the Obama “Tidal Wave” of support that his rise to the top was going to be almost impossible to defeat.

We now have the ultimate responsibility to act and sacrifice so that America can correct the last 8 years and once again be the light that shines brightly inside and outside of our borders.

Remember the words of President Jack Kennedy, “Ask not what your country can do for you--ask what you can do for your country”.

It’s a New Dawn, a New Day, a New Life………and I am Feeling Good!

Below are 10 heartfelt emails sent to me along with my pictures from Stockholm Sweden’s festive election night party.

Happy Gswede Sunday!
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1) From a mother in Chicago, Illinois - USA:

I know it's not particular to Chicago, but I've never seen more smiles on the street, more people with a spring in their step, more folks giving up their seats on public transit to the pregnant and elderly, and (FINALLY) kids without their underwear exposed! The under 30 set has suddenly taken to properly pulled up pants, tucked in shirts and perfect posture.
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I've seen endless interviews with school principals (especially in Chicago schools where the black male graduation rate is less than 50%) who say that kids are sitting up straighter, are paying more attention, and attendance is at an all time high. Smart/Geek is the new cool. Could there be anything cooler?!"

2) Venice, Italy:

George,
This morning, having breakfast, I thought exactly about this and I wanted to send you just a brief writing, telling you that what happened yesterday is something more than a hope, it is true and it gives the whole world a great teaching showing that changing is possible if we really want to.
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My feelings are the same of all the people in the world who since yesterday have started a new era, and I am happy and proud to share this joy with them all, and with you!

Barack Obama is the new President of the U.S.A. but in some ways he is also ours, his election is the the very symbol of a redemption in respect to all the abuses of power that have been inflicted for ages to Afro-American, and more, he would be the voice of those who believe in values such as freedom, equality and equal opportunies.

3) Montreal, Canada:

Hello George,

I always wished I would be part of this historical event.
Have to say I'm very proud of Americans today.

Congratulations

Love you,

4) Pennsylvania, USA: the wife of one of my mentors:

I am still crying tears of joy for our new president. It was so emotional towatch Obama accept the will of the people to be our next president.There wasa sea of people, a beautiful blend of black and white faces all crying,cheering, singing and dancing and witnessing a new hope for this humble manwho will be our next president. God has sent us another son to lead us outof hatred, despair and greed. A new day is dawning for America. What awonderful time in history to witness this miracle!!
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I am renewed with hopefor the future of our people and the world. He is a man for all people. Godhas chosen him to lead us out of the darkness. He is our Moses and will leadus to the promised land. We have a man who will help heal the world. Obamais fulfilling the dream that Martin Luther King had. Our country is risingout of the bondage of slavery into the freedom of all races. He will startto rid our country of bigotry and restore the faith that we are all equal inGod's eyes. I can believe in the words that Obama said, " YES WE CAN " !!
We did and we will restore this great country to honor again. Obama will leadus. I thank God for this wonderful man. We have a new beginning, a new daydawning and a restoration of hope.

5) From a Swede in Stockholm, Sweden:

A new beginning, not only for the US but for the world! A unique chance for the US to recover and take back leadership through action. Action in terms of walking the walk rather than just talking the talk in regards to the actual content of the Constitution. Many of us Europeans want to love and look up to the United States but George W Bush and the religious right has made that downright impossible.
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Also hope that President Obama will listen to the 'Code Green' message introduced by Tom L Friedman in his last book 'Hot, Flat and Crowded'. The Financial crisis, recession and wars will all be very challenging but the really big question will be related to climate change. No doubt. Will the US take on leadership here...? I hope so...

6) From New York City, USA. This friend met Obama when he was a law professor in Chicago:

George,

You would have loved NYC last night. There was celebrating in the streets! I am guessing that it was right after 9/11 that may have been the last time you would have seen folks carrying US Flags in the streets. I wish you were here to see it

The Dream is once again alive!

When first, Pennsylvania ... then Ohio ... then New Mexico were each called for Obama, Ellen and I finally allowed ourselves to believe that it WAS going to happen. We were both crying like babies.

I remember talking to someone at an AC Board retreat over two years-ago and discussing the possibility of Barack's nomination as the Democratic candidate for President. He felt that Hillary' Clinton's "machine" and traditional big-money support would be too much to overcome. I suggested that I felt we were in for a "perfect storm" due to the Bush Presidency ... that after two more years of this Adminstration, people were going to be wanting near-unprecedented change ... and this was before our nation was introduced to both Katrina and the Wall Street meltdown.

What I did know, however, was a bit about a man who I had the pleasure of meeting while in Chicago. Over an incredible serving dish of greens at a holiday party at the home of a mutual acquaintance, I struck up a conversation with a guy who was at that time, a Senior Lecturer at University of Chicago Law School. We shared a bit of our love of good greens, jazz and music, art and architecture and even a bit about politics. He was extremely personable and impressed me as someone who was both smart and wise beyond his years. A couple years later, we had the chance to again meet at an event in Chicago and we both remembered one another from that conversation over the greens. Little did I then know that man was going to become our 44th President of the United States.

As an early donor to the campaign, I have watched both intently and intensely. I have seen this former community organizer, surround himself with those that could create an organization that seemed to so well-understand both the nature of the times and how to best "tap-into" the hopes and desires of these times. I saw a campaign run a near-flawless strategy. Like the candidate, they seemed to be unflappable - stay on message; no drama; respond, but in a measured way; attack, yet again, in the most positive manner. I received daily e-mails that somehow seemed to always speak directly to me. This has given me great confidence in his ability to "organize" an effective government.

What none of this says, however, is that my ability to hope and dream has again been restored. As one who became interested in politics as a youth with Bobby Kennedy, I had begun to wonder if I would ever again be able to dream about our Country and its place in the world. I had hoped, beyond hope, that in his remarks last night, Barack would encourage and enable others to dream again. When he told the story of that 106 year-old woman who voted for the first time yesterday ... then asked us to envision what we would hope our world would look like in 100 years, I was so encouraged. When he said that it would not be easy, would take time and would require sacrifice, I finally realized that we were finally again hearing words of truth from our President.

As we once said in business, we stand at a moment in time filled with great challenges ... the exciting thing about this is that also means we have great opportunities to rally together to overcome those challenges to create a new and much better future. To paraphrase Michelle Obama, I am once again proud of my Country and its people.

7) An American living in Stockholm, Sweden:

Thanks so much, George, for helping me get involved.

I left the election watch party just before 5 am and arrived home in time to watch CNN call the election for Barack Obama. Nicholas (my 7-year-old), with his usual impeccable timing, woke up and joined me at the kitchen TV to watch the celebration and listen to Barack's speech. Of course he has been totally devoted to Barack Obama's candidacy, much as one is devoted to the local football team. He cheerfully recites the pros and cons of the two candidates as if he has come to some carefully reasoned choice.

But this morning, I wanted so much for him to understand what a momentous historical occasion that he is privileged to witness first hand. I tried to explain it to him. He listened to the TV commentators. And then he asked me, "Mamma, what is an African-American?" I explained that to him. He didn't get what the big deal was.

At that moment, I realized that I had just had a glimpse into the future as my children would see it. I was filled with a deep sense of contentment.
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8) From Boston, Massachussets - USA:
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Hi George,

My thoughts and feelings on this historical win are very simple. Having been raised by a single mother as an African-American male in a country where my father was confronted by racism to the degree that his antagonist bought the station where he worked only to fire him, this pivotal moment is a demonstration that despite ignorance and hatred, the Truth Shall Set You Free. And the Truth is that there is no greater power than God. And since we are ALL in His Image and Likeness, no man - human being can hide from the Truth. What this means is that despite the efforts of the few, the many have overcome great odds to demonstrate what is Right.

The other thought about this experience is this:

It is a huge collective sigh of relief for America. It has restored hope and faith in America's people - both black and white - male and female - that we can look at each other as human beings - not as black or white; male or female.

As a citizen it is a collective sigh of relief because the perspective from around the world has also shifted, which is perhaps even bigger than the election of Barack Obama - it has shown the world that there is a change in America that actually is now in-line with the ideology of Democracy. Something which America has tried to force on the rest of the world, despite the hypocrisy (Racism in its own backyard).
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9) Pennsylvania, USA:
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We, as a nation founded on the basic principles of equality, fairness, and opportunity for all, can finally breathe a sigh of relief. Relief that with the eyes of the world focused on us, we didn't make a mockery of the sacrifices so many have made. We can be warmed by knowing that our collective sacrifice is not without its final reward. Imagine if the Iraqis, many of whom have chosen to support our mission in their country, would have learned last night that we think exclusion is good. Using our exclusionary example, keeping the Kurds, Shia, and Sunni "separate but equal" would be the rational choice for the Iraqi nation. Never mind that ultimately its sustainability would prove to be suspect, as our American experiment in separate but equal borne from the 1896 Supreme Court case, Plessy vs. Ferguson proved to be.

And what of the plurality of the American electorate, soured by the diminished living standards brought on by a bankrupt political ideology and the lack of a common national purpose? The leading edge of the supposed beneficiaries of the American way of life are only now coming to grips with the weight of an egregious national debtor mentality that has come to symbolize a country without bearing or common sense. It is with this backdrop that America listened to its better angels. The majority of its citizens rmiraculously recalling in the voting booth that America was meant to be, "..indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."

We have a reason to hope again.
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10) Boston, Massachusetts - USA:
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I, like hundreds of millions of people throughout the world, am filled with joy and hope for a more compassionate America and a more peaceful world.

The sobering fact is that the lofty expectations throughout the world will put pressure on this truly impressive man that would be overwhelming for most if not all men.

The problems facing him are manifold, and 8 years let alone 4 is an insufficient amount of time to get the mechanisms in place and get them working to the point where his vision will be realized.

To expect him to solve the world financial crisis, put a peaceful end to two bitter wars, bring the US education system out of the dark ages, reduce greenhouse gas emissions to tenable levels, and end US dependence on foreign oil in just 4 or 8 years is unrealistic.

But I do hope it will be enough time for him to change the culture of greed, short-term vision, American imperialism and total disregard for the Constitution that has ruled Washington over the last 8 years. And perhaps we will be able to get a glimpse of his vision as it begins to take form. Then we can only hope that the subsequent leader(s) will take the baton and stay the course.

Should this happen, I do see the possibility that one day this country will have the low poverty levels, high education levels and economic dominance of the past. I also see the US becoming a leader in conservation and sustainable energy development. The ultimate icing on the cake would be if one day the US would be perceived throughout the world as the preeminent world power and peacekeeper, not because of its military might, but thanks to a culture and track record of humanitarian aid and intervention in cases of genocide or equally odious cruelty and oppression.

Of course, I sound like a dreamer, and perhaps the Obama presidency will not be able to get anywhere near to this scenario. But, I have total confidence that he will try his damnedest. And, I am thrilled that we have provided him the opportunity.
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November 4, 2008 - Election Night party at Scandic Anglais in Stockholm, Sweden





















November 4, 2008 - Election Night party at Scandic Anglais in Stockholm, Sweden

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