Saturday, January 31, 2009

Just calm down, people

Last year, Americans were scared. Why? This picture says it all.

Ok! Ok! We're terrified, already.

But this year, the new buzzword isn't "scared." It's "outraged." Why are we outraged? I can give you billions of reasons. The interesting thing is, our outrage is directed at all kinds of different people.

Some of us are outraged at the person pictured above. Some are outraged at Barney Frank and Christopher Dodd. Others are outraged at Barack Obama.

Lots of people make lots of money by telling us we should be outraged. Rush Limbaugh is a master at this. So is Chris Matthews. And Jim Kramer. And Sean Hannity. And Keith Olbermann. Pass around the Prozac.

What we really need to do, is to forgive and forget. Mostly forget.

Let's take a lesson from Sarah Palin. Not that long ago, she was outraged (OUTRAGED!) about Barack Obama's nefarious past. Who could forget those stirring speeches about pallin' around with terrorists? Where is Ms. Palin this weekend? Pallin' around with Barack at a swanky DC party. Hm.

And listen. Some of you are outraged (OUTRAGED!) about the $18.4 billion that was recently doled out in Wall Street bonuses. Now, sure, that was technically your money. But you need to look at the big picture. Take a lesson from Rudy Guiliani.

Mr. Guiliani has come to the defense of the generously-compensated folks on Wall Street, explaining that their bonuses help support restaurants and other businesses in New York City.

Of course! What were we thinking? All of you waiters out there who are slaving away for less than minimum wage should be ashamed of yourselves. Where would you be without those well-padded restaurant patrons who send back their Caesar salads because they specifically asked for three ounces of shredded cheese, not four, you bumble-headed moron?

They left you a fifty cent tip, didn't they?

Just calm down.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Finding the right words

This is one of those special days. You know those days - when something so momentous happens, you always remember exactly where you were. I will remember sitting here with my laptop, struggling to come up with the right words to describe it.

I will remember feeling hopeful.
I will remember feeling amazed.

Barack Obama. Who would have thought?

Not that long ago, he was called a friend of terrorists. He was called a black radical, a secret Muslim, a non-citizen, an ultra-liberal, a hater of America.

These words didn't phase him. Why? Because this is a man who defines his life by words of his own.

When people questioned his friendships, his character, his experience and his beliefs, he didn't retaliate. He talked. He used words like "hope" ... "unity" ... "service" ... "ideals." He urged us all to examine what we were really saying, and to be careful with the words we choose, knowing that our words shape our actions and define our character.

It would be easy for a man like this to maintain a limited viewpoint, based on his eloquent ideas and nothing else. But Obama is not only a man who talks. He is a man who listens.

He has already started to assemble his team, representing a variety of viewpoints, backgrounds and political affiliations. He invites input from people who disagree with him. He asks for ideas from ordinary Americans.

I know he is not the Messiah. Come on, we all know that.
I know he is not perfect.
But I know that he values the power of words, and I believe that his words will shape this country in positive ways for at least four years to come.

Some of my friends and family members are feeling anxious and resentful and skeptical right now. If those are the words you are using to define this day, I would challenge you to look for other words.

There are lots of good words to choose from.

Need some ideas? Talk to children who have new ways of imagining their future. Look at the faces of your fellow Americans who are seeing new possibilities. Hear the heart of a President who has a new vision for this rowdy, divided, fiercely independent country of ours.

Listen closely. The right words will come.