Wednesday, November 04, 2009


Trudy’s note says:
Wendy I am looking forward to your piece on Barack's first anniversary. I was just reading something like that in the paper, by Lisa Van Dusen of the Washington
Bureau, and thought of you. At least he's still on his feet right?

What an interesting time it’s been! To have a prominent public figure use hope strategies in public, to have him teach a lesson on everything we know about the power of hope to nfluence behavior, the role of hope language in creating hope, and the emotional wallop you can get from a story if a hopeful person is organizing the content! Having come out so vehemently in support of Obama’s hope methods I, like Trudy, wondered how things would go for me if things didn’t go well for him.

This is what I want to write on the first anniversary of Obama’s election. I am disappointed for Barack, but not in him. I am disappointed for him because he took a big risk. He put his dreams out there in the most hopeful way possible and so far things have been pretty nasty. He says he has learned that governing is a lot harder than getting elected. Putting your dreams out there makes you very vulnerable. Cynical people who say they agree with your dreams, and those who blatantly disapprove of your dreams are bound to line up like spectators at a sporting event, watching in anticipation of your defeat. I guess that’s why so many of us are afraid to expose our dreams at the early stages when there is no certainty that they can come true. There was no certainty in Obama’s case because he did not have the power to make any of them come true without a lot of help from others. Anybody who thought that hope alone was going to make so many difficult things happen was seriously dillusional.
I am not disappointed in him because he never promised to give Americans health care, or end the war in Iraq. How could he promise these things without the power to enact them? What he did was to open up the possibility that they could happen, to say “Yes we can” when others said “No we can’t”. I am not disappointed in him because he proved that people could do something they never thought they could do in 2008--elect the first African American president. They could do that and they did do that, even though many of them thought it was impossible.
What else the American people will do in support of his dreams we do not, at this point, know. I am hoping they will rally behind the things he is trying to do so that they can get done. Their rallying will provide the power and the hope to continue. Then maybe he can get on with other things they want him to do.
At this point Barack is still my hero. I am continuing to read his speeches at workshops, to use them as examples of how we can use hope language to influence the behavior of others. As things developed I have been expecting to receive criticism for this, but so far I have received only support.

1 comment:

hope101 said...

I see his work in much the same light. It's not within his power to change the mindset of a culture that embraces celebrity over substance, cyncism over hope. He can only do what he can do, and to my mind, he's done that exceptionally well. Here's hoping a few more people will be willing to risk as much as he does every day.