Monday, January 21, 2013

Barack Obama,  Richard Blanco, and The Rainbow Coalition
When I look out at this convention, I see the face of America, red, yellow, brown, black, and white.  We are all precious in God’s light- the real rainbow coalition.
Jesse Jackson (born 1941), Speech at the Democratic Convention, 1988

January 21, 2013 -  As President Obama’s inaugural award ceremony unfolds today, all of us will look at it with different eyes.

Many of us will look at with multiple sets of eyes.
I look at it through the eyes of history as an election where a coalition of minorities – Blacks, Hispanics, Chinese, Citizens of India, native Americans,  immigrants of every hue and origin, and Whites calling themselves Progressives – ascended to the Majority by casting 51% of the winning vote. It’s a fragile majority, but it’s a majoirty , and that’s what counts.
I look at it through the eyes of one who thought, surely the advocates of pro-growth and economic capitalistic prosperity would triumph over the forces of slow growth  in the interest of social justice , income redistribution, and eqaul economic outcomes, all requiring significantly higher taxes on everyone at the cost of an astromical growing national debt.
I look at it through the eyes of a physician and an advocate of independent practice of medicine, which seems to be going the way of multidiscipline corporate and governmental team practices, a labyrinthic  path through the shoals of managerial complexity, guided only by the  massive 2700 page Affordable Care Act  containing  huge doses of  big data, clinical algorithms, compliance  regulations, and government oversight and overhaul.
I  look at it  through the eyes of Richard Blanco, 44, the first Hispanic to recite the inaugural poem.   Richard Blanco is a friend of our family and of my son, Spencer, who like Richard, is a narrative poet who excels at telling  stories rather than commenting  on politics.  Richard’s personal philosophy might well be “Don’t hate, relate.”  Here is  Richard memorable poetic call for national unity and multicultural understanding.
Text of poem "One Today" written and recited by Richard Blanco at the ceremonial swearing-in ceremony of President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden, as provided by the Presidential Inaugural Committee:

One sun rose on us today, kindled over our shores,

peeking over the Smokies, greeting the faces

of the Great Lakes, spreading a simple truth

across the Great Plains, then charging across the Rockies.

One light, waking up rooftops, under each one, a story

told by our silent gestures moving behind windows.

My face, your face, millions of faces in morning's mirrors,

each one yawning to life, crescendoing into our day:

pencil-yellow school buses, the rhythm of traffic lights,

fruit stands: apples, limes, and oranges arrayed like rainbows

begging our praise. Silver trucks heavy with oil or paper —

bricks or milk, teeming over highways alongside us,

on our way to clean tables, read ledgers, or save lives—

to teach geometry, or ring-up groceries as my mother did

for twenty years, so I could write this poem.

All of us as vital as the one light we move through,

the same light on blackboards with lessons for the day:

equations to solve, history to question, or atoms imagined,

the "I have a dream" we keep dreaming,

or the impossible vocabulary of sorrow that won't explain

the empty desks of twenty children marked absent

today, and forever. Many prayers, but one light

breathing color into stained glass windows,

life into the faces of bronze statues, warmth

onto the steps of our museums and park benches

as mothers watch children slide into the day.

One ground. Our ground, rooting us to every stalk

of corn, every head of wheat sown by sweat

and hands, hands gleaning coal or planting windmills

in deserts and hilltops that keep us warm, hands

digging trenches, routing pipes and cables, hands

as worn as my father's cutting sugarcane

so my brother and I could have books and shoes.

The dust of farms and deserts, cities and plains

mingled by one wind — our breath. Breathe. Hear it

through the day's gorgeous din of honking cabs,

buses launching down avenues, the symphony

of footsteps, guitars, and screeching subways,

the unexpected song bird on your clothes line.

Hear: squeaky playground swings, trains whistling,

or whispers across café tables, Hear: the doors we open

for each other all day, saying: hello, shalom,

buon giorno, howdy, namaste, or buenos días

in the language my mother taught me — in every language

spoken into one wind carrying our lives

without prejudice, as these words break from my lips.

One sky: since the Appalachians and Sierras claimed

their majesty, and the Mississippi and Colorado worked

their way to the sea. Thank the work of our hands:

weaving steel into bridges, finishing one more report

for the boss on time, stitching another wound

or uniform, the first brush stroke on a portrait,

or the last floor on the Freedom Tower

jutting into a sky that yields to our resilience.

One sky, toward which we sometimes lift our eyes

tired from work: some days guessing at the weather

of our lives, some days giving thanks for a love

that loves you back, sometimes praising a mother

who knew how to give, or forgiving a father

who couldn't give what you wanted.

We head home: through the gloss of rain or weight

of snow, or the plum blush of dusk, but always — home,

always under one sky, our sky. And always one moon

like a silent drum tapping on every rooftop

and every window, of one country — all of us —

facing the stars

hope — a new constellation

waiting for us to map it,

waiting for us to name it — together


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