Obama: Historic or Symbolic?



Just a simple muse…

As I lay on the couch watching the series of events culminating in the oath taking of the new President of the United States, I flipped my mind over and over on what are the implications of this moment. Many claim that the labour of the past American heroes are now evidently not in vain, and dream of the martyr of freedom is now fully on course. Some frankly noted that along with the emotions and euphoria of an ecstatic event comes also the instructions for what lies ahead. These two married positions create a full picture of what perfect blend Obama’s day has sparked in the minds of all, despite many opposing viewpoints. I lay there caught up with the same reflections and inflections of a series of fortunate events to have befallen one man, from which today all men on the globe feed upon to cast a new plot to history and symbolisms.

Now I keep asking my self, which has a greater effect on the people. Is it the history making of the moment, or the symbolic nature of the moment that has a greater power? History reminds us of where we are coming from and sort of tells us where we are going to or ought to be going. Symbolism on the other hand captures the essence of the now, the discourse going on in the public cranium, and the effect on the events on the person. So the meditations of my heart are on the struggle between the history and the symbolism of Obama’s success today. Is ‘Obamaism’ historic or symbolic? 

I am concerned because of the different outcomes which history and symbols present us, and the effects which they play out through the responses provoked from people. While history gives us something to write and talk about, symbols give us something to act out. As I watch the young single mother and her little kid lighted up and inspired by the moment, I can feel the their intense passion to carve out a new life without recourse to the past injustices of the society. History has only given them more reasons to cry and lumber on with great desperation, but symbols have urged them with a stoking fire of inner power to lay aside the weight that easily besets and fight on for a better life. For those who recorded Martin Luther’s speech as a historic moment, they are still caught up with the issues he fought for. But for those who were drawn to the symbols of his message, they have been strengthened to alter the course of a nations history. 

Have you ever walked into a place before and something about the environment changes your attitude, without an effort? You probably have heard of the place before, but nothing changed you like being there. That is the power of symbolism. History is a story that speaks, while symbols are a emblems that influences. So to those who are inspired by the history of this time, I urge you to move from there to what the times actually mean. Look not to the words but the pictures formed by these series of cascading moments. The greatest changes in our lives have not come from a flow of events, but from what those events meant to us. So also the power of this time lies in its power to shatter mindsets and transform perspectives from bitter strongholds to sweet possibilities. 

To those who had an excuse, there suddenly is none. To those who felt weary, there is a surge of energy. To those in darkness, there arises great light. And to those caught in the tyranny of time, there presents a great door of escape. No longer are the great models for our children Entertainment Celebrities and Athletes, but a bold new definition of service and sacrifice. Suddenly we have transited from the superficial to the substantive, from the fleeting to the gripping, and from the foolish to the profound. This is the power of the symbolic nature of this moment. Evey one has something to draw from this and no one is left out. Therefore it is way beyond history, for history only tells the story from skewed spectacles. This is a symbolic moment, for its consequences are etched on every heart, and it subtly influences our very existence. But I dare say also that is also a ‘historically symbolic’ moment. I take my bite from this slice of time.


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