Stay optimistic for Barrack Obama

I’m terribly weary of all those who sagely counsel us not to get too excited by Barrack Obama’s inauguration later today, like Labour’s social networking guru and psychotherapist Derek Draper.

We need to be careful not get caught up in a peak experience, Derek warns, and instead imagine life when it’s all over and our feet are back on the ground. But what would life be without a few peak experiences? There is good reason to celebrate Obama’s coming into office.

A little sceptical, I favoured Hilary Clinton and wondered if Obama has the balls to be bold. But more importantly, I sense that everyone else feels similarly.

The change Barrack Obama promises is vaguely defined and he faces many immense challenges. Sure, he will disappoint us from time to time. But what makes today extra special is that people understand. They know that taking Derek Draper’s advice will land them in a place that is not the promised land, but choose to throw themselves into the moment anyway.

Today is a day to put realism to one side and indulge ourselves, not to hold back. Barrack Obama has proved that a man of mixed race, who identifies with African Americans, can become president of the United States of America, a country that had segregation not a generation ago. That doesn’t mean that racism is over with in America and that ethnic minorities have suddenly found themselves on a par with their white neighbours, but it does give us reason to hope that one day this will be so.

And it is that hope – and many more progressive hopes – that people rightly celebrate today.

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