Signs of a Better World

I will not make this a forum for political ramblings. Was just so takenby Roger Cohen’s op ed piece in the Times this past weekend, which I have excerpted below. It was wild watching the whole explosion of excitement everywhere.

Roger Cohen in the NY Times:

These are interesting times. Jobs are disappearing and General Motors is running out of cash. At the same time, America has assuaged some of its deepest wounds with the election of Barack Obama. We have less money in our pockets but more hope in our hearts.

Hope won’t feed an empty stomach. But it’s potent. In Greek myth, when Pandora opened her box, she let out all the evils except one: hope. The Greeks considered hope dangerous; its bedfellow can be delusion. Nietzsche later saw hope as the evil that prolongs human torment.

But in the end Pandora opened her box again and released hope because, without it, humanity was filled with despair.

At least that’s one version of the myth. What is certain is that there’s a lot of hope about these days. It would be an exaggeration to say people are happier now that we have less money, but accurate to say there’s a surfacing of shame about the extent of our spend-spend-spend excesses.

Hundreds of thousands of Americans have been engaged in prolonged forms of service and sacrifice that have deserved better. Better not just of a president, George W. Bush, too insecure to inspire, but of all of us for whom easy credit became synonymous with easy amnesia. Perhaps the new frugality can also be the new humanity.

America’s moment of reckoning is global. Economic anxiety has spread far and wide, as far and as wide as the hopes vested in Obama. This moment of moral opportunity is not confined to the United States.

Anti-Bushism, straying often into anti-Americanism, has been the defining ideological current of recent times. Its disappearance with Obama, or at least its retreat, leaves a gaping intellectual void needing to be filled.

For inspiration on how to do that I suggest this image: hope fluttering out of Pandora’s box. Crisis demands statesmanship, which cannot be composed of calculation alone, but must reach for the unquenchable in the human spirit.