I've been working for progressive, social justice nonprofits and been active on various electoral and community organizing campaigns for the past thirteen years. That doesn't make me a hardened, wizened veteran by any means, but it also means that I've seen a few things. And yes, I've become more and more cynical every year I witness the increasing degradation of our amazing planet's natural resources, the war-profiteering of privileged (mostly) white men in conservative suits, the unjust criminalization of poor people of color and young people, the governmental neglect of places like post-Katrina New Orleans and the Gulf South, and more and more impoverished people roaming the streets of the wealthiest country in the world.
And even though I've drawn lots of inspiration from the young people that develop into amazing leaders at Californians for Justice where I have had the privilege to work for the past four years, I do believe that, for the most part, I'd become a bit bitter about American politics. I think a part of my heart had really given up on this country, on the potential of the people who live here to come together, help each other, and work for a better world.
Tonite, I started to feel an emotion that I think I hadn't felt for more than a fleeting few moments for a long, long time. I was watching Barack Obama make his acceptance speech as the Democratic Presidential nominee, and I felt a stirring in my heart that felt both new and familiar. I can remember feeling this emotion when I first started doing activist work, and saw what ordinary people were willing to do to create a better future for themselves and their children. I've felt this feeling when I see a young person--who came to CFJ barely being able to speak in a group of ten other students--stand up in front of two-hundred people and make a passionate, articulate and intelligent speech. I felt this emotion when I've protested with Filipino WWII veterans in front of the White House, or at a UC Regents meeting, or at a hotel workers picket in San Francisco.
This feeling is Hope. Yes, Hope with a capital 'H'. I know it sounds hokey and sentimental and silly on some levels, but this the truth and this is real. I feel hope for the future of this country and this planet for the first time in a long while. I don't think even I realized how long it'd been since I truly felt hopeful about regular American people of all races and creeds and backgrounds being able to come together to do something good for the world. Hope, it's a powerful feeling.
And I have to admit, it feels really, really good.