Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Crisis, Opportunity, and a New Reflection

There are ground-breaking changes afoot in Washington, DC. Hopes---and tensions---are high as the Obama Administration takes wing, and we all take a collective breath as the transition of power becomes complete.

As much as I am listening to the accolades being strewn across the land, I am also aware that walls of opposition will rise as soon as change comes into play, and the cynics will surely raise their voices high at every opportunity. Yes, the country is in crisis, with a dysfunctional health care system and a crippled economy collectively hobbling us at this moment in time. But a crisis is also an opportunity, and we can only hope that this opportunity for rebirth will lead to great things.

These past eight years have been, for me, a time of much consternation and despair, politically speaking. Several months after 9/11, my best friend was murdered by the police in a small New England town under questionable and egregious circumstances, and the abuses of power---both small and large---seemed to ripple out in ever-widening circles from that day forward. My friend was erroneously perceived to be a threat to others, just as those non-existent weapons of mass destruction posed a threat that eventually was proved to be groundless. We all chase phantoms at some point in our lives, and many a phantom has been hounded in these first years of a new century.

So, here we are, with the nation poised for change, and the rest of the world on tenterhooks, expectantly watching our every move.

Despite my own cynicism throughout most of the presidential race, I feel a responsibility as a citizen---and as a new local public health official---to see how I can play a part in the changes that are now underway. I have never felt such a feeling of truly wanting to be a part of something so large, so far beyond the personal. Perhaps this is what some felt when the New Deal was created in order to invigorate a nation on its knees, or when the country pulled together in the face of a world war that came on the heels of the Great Depression.

As I see the faces of the new administration---the women, the diverse ethnicities, and the diversity of the Obama extended family itself---I am enthralled to see that there is a new reflection when America looks into the Reflecting Pool on the Washington Mall. I feel a stirring of hope and a potential for greatness, all of which is mitigated by a guarded sense of optimism and a memory of how hopes can be dashed, especially when those hopes are placed in the unreliable hands of the political and legislative processes.

Still, despite the voices born of worry, cynicism and concern, I am the most hopeful that I have ever been as a politically aware adult American, and that in itself is a feeling worth celebrating.

(c) 2009 NurseKeith
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