Wednesday, January 21, 2009
The Emperor's New Clothes
I love the film The Matrix. My favorite moment from the movie (and I have many) is just after Keanu Reeves has been awakened and brought aboard the hovercraft. His character has decided to meet Morpheus because he imagines being rescued from his boring mundane life in order to be introduced to a life of glamourousness. Instead of slick black leather and groovy sunglasses, though, his first sight is of people with greasy hair and tattered clothing. Laurence Fishburne leans in close and says in the kindest voice possible, "Welcome to the real world."
I'm not saying there isn't greatness in the American ideals or that all Americans are wasteful and clueless or that every shred of American greatness has evaporated. If it had, we couldn't have elected Obama. Our new president has helped me reconnect to the strengths of this country, to the solid core of goodness and possibility, making him - in my eyes - already a great president. I had no idea I had become so cynical.
In the wake of that great, empowering truth telling inauguration speech, I'm asking myself: Can we Americans wake up, give up our bloated, stupid, greedy way of life with grace and aplomb? If we can, how great will that be? If not, well, how sad. And how hard it's going to be on all of us. No one knows how it will fall out, not yet. Well, maybe Merle Sneed knows.
The truth is, our former Emperor had no clothes. What a mess he made of America. And there we were the whole time, complicit, sipping our Starbucks, buying too much stuff, wasting energy, time and resources, ignoring the truth, or complaining but doing nothing about it, feeling powerless to do anything about it. At least that's how I felt.
Obama is right - the world has changed and we must change with it. Welcome to the real world. Right now! Or else! What a great speech. What a great day yesterday was. I love our new president.