Thursday, May 29, 2008

Be Not Afraid

HEAVEN is the place where fear turns to autumn leaves, and drifts away.

I haven't been able to blog much. Despite having to focus on my tennis blog and fulfill other responsibilities, I have been left emotionally gutted over the last few days by all the recent talk of assassination. As wish, as hope, as political tactic.

Only when a statesman calling us to repent our wicked ways (yes, I'm going there) wins over the support of millions, awakens the politically cynical to action, and calls upon a revolution through Movement do his foes issue permission slips to the nutcases to go into their basements and closets and sheds to pull out their artillery and grease it up for sport.

It's at once disgusting and heartbreaking. I've been disgusted and heartbroken.

In a murderous time, the heart breaks and breaks to keep from breaking.

But more than that, I've held onto hope. I called up my good friend and spiritual sister Gail and told her it was time to call all the spirit warriors she knew and put them on high alert. The time had come. The people have gotten so afraid they're contemplating murder. As action, as solution, as salvation.

Time for a prayer shield.

On Tuesday, Michelle Obama attended a fundraiser in Phoenix, Arizona, where she was put on the spot. Dawn Teo over at Daily Kos tells the story best:

She called on another supporter, whose voice quivered and broke with barely contained emotion as she explained how important it is to her, personally, that Barack Obama be elected. How important it is to her, personally, that our country change its course.

She was on the verge of tears as she explained that she just returned from Oregon where she campaigned for Obama and attended the 75,000-person rally by the river. She had noticed, she said, that the Secret Service had increased security dramatically for Barack Obama's rallies since the Phoenix rally in January.

The room collectively gasped and murmured, some aghast that these fears were being spoken aloud directly to Barack Obama's beloved wife. Some nodded, concern and fear clear on their faces. Others shifted on their feet, displaying a range of emotions -- concern, discomfort with the topic, indignation -- it is not often that such topics are broached in polite company.

Pulling herself together, the supporter asked,

"What can you tell us..."

and then her voice caught and broke as a sob rose up from her chest. She paused for a moment to quell her emotion, to find her voice again.

"I'm afraid of what might happen. What can you tell us, after last week's comments..."

...another sob broke up her words...

"after last week's comments, to make us feel more at ease."

She cried unabashedly after finally getting out her words.

The room that had been electrified with positive energy throughout the evening suddenly became still and quiet, all eyes focused on Michelle Obama. Michelle Obama's eyes, though, were focused on that concerned supporter. She paused, allowing the clearly distraught supporter to pull herself together. It seemed like several minutes went by, as we all waited, wondering how she would answer this highly personal and evocative question. Probably only 30 seconds went by, but it seemed like several minutes. Finally, she said simply, firmly,

"I'm ok.

"Really. I am ok.

"And if I'm ok, you should be ok."

She paused, then talked for a moment about what this means, personally, to her.

"You know, we talked about this as a family."

She held the microphone with one hand, the other curved inward over her heart as she talked. Her tenor and body language was clear. Michelle Obama was talking as a mother. She was introspective and intimate, looking the questioner in the eyes as if they are the only two in the room.

"We talked about this as a family."

The room remained still and quiet. Imagine having that talk with your children. Then, she paused, gathering herself, pulling herself up, seeming to grow even taller, Michelle, the campaigning wife returns. She says,

"I've talked about this before. Barack is probably safer now than he was before. Kids are dying in the street in our community. They get shot walking to class, sitting in school, taking the bus home. They are dying in the street."

Her eyes roved the audience, and she implored,

"Send us good vibes. Pray for us. Think positive thoughts. But most of all, be vigilant. Be vigilant about stopping this kind of talk.

"It's not funny.

"You don't have to like Barack to dislike that kind of talk. Be vigilant about stopping that kind of talk."

In that moment, Michelle Obama's voice displayed a mixture of emotions. She was talking as a mother of two young girls who need their father. She was talking as a wife, whose love for her husband is plain to see in her eyes. She was talking as a compassionate human being who believes that kind of talk is inappropriate and unacceptable about any political candidate, not just about her husband, not just about the father of her children -- about any politician.

What Michelle Obama says next was powerful. It would have brought the crowd to its feet if the crowd weren't [sic] already standing. She reminded us what we are fighting for, and why it is important to forge ahead with no fear,

"Fear is the reason this country is where it is today. Fear is a useless emotion.

"Don't ever make decisions based on fear. Make decisions based on hope and possibility. Make decisions based on what should happen, not what shouldn't.

"Don't ever make decisions based on fear."

Amen. Halleju. Amen.

Who can doubt this family's love for this country? Black people have loved this country even as this country has hated Black people. There are no better patriots.

Barack Obama may have never served his country in uniform, but the recent tenor of this campaign proves beyond all cynical doubt that he is putting his life on the line everyday in order to fight for this country's core values. His wife is no less brave than those sitting at home praying for their husbands to be delivered from evil, from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

And his children, just as those of the soldiers overseas, know that he may never come home again. Know that if he doesn't, he'll live forever in their hearts as a hero.

Barack Obama received Secret Service protection shortly after announcing his candidacy. Thanks to a desperate opponent in South Dakota, a foolish politician in Kentucky, a hateful newspaper editor in Georgia, and a shameless talking head on Fox News, his protectors are now on high alert.

But we must not be afraid.

We must not be afraid.

We must not be afraid.


Anonymous said...

I hope that all of our good thoughts, prayer shields, keeps Barack out of harms way. I pray for him and his family daily.

Like you, I have been depressed. I will try and remain "vigilant" as Michelle instructed. I don't UNDERSTAND how the Obama's can make this sacrafice. Remember before he started winning Black folk were reluctant to vote for him? The assumption was he could NOT win, and if he did he would be assassinated. Also, many did not want Colin Powell to win for the same reason for fear of him ultimately being assassinated. I am almost at the point where I want to say, screw the America electorate. They do not deserve this man and his family. He should go back to being a Senator and not have to worry about other Democrats sending code.

Anonymous said...

Well said Craig....well said.

Anonymous said...

First, Craig I've been meaning to tell you that one part of one of your posts at JJP on Sunday's Open Thread had so much power in it that I could feel its power, stillness and calm just reading it. And I felt it each time I looked at those words that day, and felt even when I looked at it at work where I was not exactly surrounded by quiet. I meant to comment on this, but then lost track of where it was.

Here it is:

We hereby put a safety shield around Senator Obama.

We hereby protect him and his family from evil and harm with the power of thought and prayer.

(Sun May 25, 11:41:00 AM 2008, Open Thread)

Feeling that underscored my sense of a spiritual struggle under all of this. Which is not something I would normally talk about. I've run into a lot of nasty stuff under the guise of "spiritual" and I have learned to be quiet about this layer of things because I have found that words have little accountability to truth here and are so easily twisted. But still. I will say this here.

I don't know that I understand what a prayer shield is. But there are things I can do, some of which have I been doing since the underlying aspects of this situation first caught my attention in February.

Thank you for highlighting it with such palpable power at JJP the other day and thank you for highlighting it here. Again there is power here in these words especially:

But we must not be afraid.

We must not be afraid.

We must not be afraid.

Craig Hickman said...

Thank you all for your kind and inspiring words.

Anonymous said...

we can all learn from Michelle. What strength, what poise, what faith, and purpose are embodied in this woman. This country will be blessed to have her as our first lady.