News / January 30, 2009

The audacity of hope (in the Philippines)


By: JC delos Reyes, January 30, 2009.

Hope, according to the Catholic Dictionary by Fr. John Hardon, S.J. is the virtue which instills a confident desire of obtaining a future good that is difficult to obtain which draws out a person’s volition. It is the opposite of despair.

When Barack Obama won, not only America but the whole world witnessed the ushering in of what was once a taboo presidency – an African American assuming the most powerful office in the world.  Amidst the tension in the Middle East and the global economic meltdown, the president-elect symbolizes hope and a new beginning not only for Americans but for the world. This was seen in the celebration and merrymaking at his electoral victory featured in CNN across the globe.

His interesting personal and political profile was just what the democrats needed and his rise to national prominence was expedited by his speech entitled, The Audacity of Hope, delivered during the Democratic National Convention in 2004. Obama said:  “I’m talking about something more substantial. It’s the hope of slaves sitting around a fire singing freedom songs; the hope of immigrants setting out for distant shores; the hope of a young naval lieutenant bravely patrolling the Mekong Delta; the hope of a millworker’s son who dares to defy the odds; the hope of a skinny kid with a funny name who believes that America has a place for him, too. Hope in the face of difficulty. Hope in the face of uncertainty. The audacity of hope!”

His prophecy of ‘that place for him’ happened to be the presidency and it was his boldness to hope and to represent the hopes and dreams of others that got him where he is today. Despite my criticisms of his moral stand on a number of issues, particularly abortion and his “people-pleaser” politics, he indeed captured the minds and hearts of Americans, despite all odds. This is what makes his story historical.

The Obama phenomenon highlights the hope we all aspire for ourselves, our families and our country. It is in shattering stereotypes, in fulfilling dreams, slaying giants and dragons, and impossibilities that hope becomes contagious and invigorates. These are unique but very seldom stories that allow us to dream and bring out hidden or sleeping ideals deep within our spirit.

Speaking of hope and ideals, the same air of hope and glad-tidings in America whisked through us when a Marine Major whose dying sister suffering from cancer refused millions of pesos of drug money to keep the integrity of his office, or when a self made internationally renowned architect who could have been a million dollars richer in exchange for his signature, refused and instead opted to battle corruption. And what about a five year old national political party, Ang Kapatiran, fighting an uphill battle against warlords and traditional politicians who continue to enslave a people so desensitized and hopeless even wary about new, alternative leaders who could free them from the shackles of political hypocrisy and witchcraft. The Filipino people I liken to a child so abused it cannot comprehend good parents…we could no longer comprehend good politics.

Alexander Pope could not have said it better ’Hope springs eternal’ and as long as there are those hoping and dreaming for a new Philippines, these people will infect others to be more patriotic.

If America’s Obama has transformed his country to Obama’s America where ‘a skinny kid with a funny name who believes America has a place for him, then I want to believe and dream and hope and wishful think and most