I'm normally one to start the New Year with a post about my hopes for the coming year. However, I decided to wait for this year to begin. Today is my New Years Eve. I look to tomorrow with a hope unknown before and a knowledge that things do actually change, that my voice has been heard, that my hopes have become reality and I have been a part of an amazing day in our history. I do not know when it is that I will stop being brought to tears by the thought of Barack Obama and his family in the White House, but my tears of joy are a welcome change.
There is a program on NPR called "This I Believe." When I began listening to it, I also began thinking about what it is that I believe, above all things.
I believe in hope.
In the summer of 2008, I got my second tattoo—the word hope in a box on my left wrist. With time and the weathering caused by its odd location, and because of my penchant for punctuation, it has come to look like a command stamped permanently on me. The tattoo artist, Jeff P. (look him up, he’s very good), asked me why I was getting it. And I replied, “Because, sometimes I need a reminder.”
Since I got the tattoo, I’ve begun to notice the word everywhere, like when you buy a car and begin to see it all over the road. In the mundane, “I hope that goes on sale,” “I hope you are well,” “I hope this economy gets better soon.” In poetry, “Hope is the thing with feathers/That perches in the soul,/And sings the tune--without the words,/And never stops at all”. In politics, for “while we breathe, we will hope.” In a speech by Harvey Milk, “The only thing they have to look forward to is hope. And you have to give them hope. Hope for a better world, hope for a better tomorrow, hope for a better place to come to if the pressures at home are too great. Hope that all will be all right.”
I’ve thought a lot this year about hope. What it really means to give someone hope. To show them what might be. In Spanish the word for “hope” is the same as the word for “wait.” Waiting for something better. Waiting for something to come along that will bring us out and make things better again. Hope moves us forward when things get rough. Hope is the last thing we turn to, and the last thing we lose. Hope gave us a new president.
Hope will spur us forward into tomorrow, despite our failing economy, our knowledge that the world is not as it should be—that millions of people live in poverty, their lives torn apart by war and disease, their hearts broken by the destruction of their homes and families, feeling forgotten by the world community—for tomorrow is a new day. Tomorrow our president will close Guantanamo Bay. Tomorrow our president will listen to the millions of voices crying out for change. Millions of voices who have gone unheard until that day. But my hope does not lie with Barack Obama alone. It lies with the fact that millions of people actually believe that something better is possible, and that we have the power to make a better world.
Today, I can feel the collective inhalation of a coming global sigh of relief. The deep and cleansing breath of a New Day.