A New Year -- New Challenges and New Opportunities

We've had quite a year in 2008--economic crisis, war on two fronts, intensity of global warming and global terrorism, an unveiling of the class nature of the capitalist system and the "powers" that have now lost their ability to totally control what we do. We also had the most momentous and most improbable election in US history--Barack Obama as our 44th President. Red and Blue states have turned around. People are not as Democratic as they once were, and certainly not as Republican as they used to be. Change is everywhere, and that includes for conservatives as well as progressives. The momentum is moving towards more equity, peace, social justice. But this won't be easy. President Obama is facing the worse legacy of any president since Franklin Delano Roosevelt--and probably more of what Lincoln faced 150 years ago. I stand by our new president, but we can't be fooled into thinking all is well. If anything our growing awareness must now translate to growing and strategic action. We can't let President Obama be the change--we are, and we need to be united and organized to continue the process we've started.

A few things must be said--with the moving forward of progressive politics we had two major retrograde developments. One, Proposition 8 in California (and similar propositions in other states) won, overturning hard-won Gay marriage rights. This is wrong and the courts as well as our communities must do what is necessary to right this terrible injustice. And undocumented immigrants continue to be the target of right-wing groups, some unions, and even regular Americans who have fallen into scapegoating non-citizens without papers for all the ills that this government, the corporations, and their cronies have created.

Today we are also seeing the terrible slaughter of Palestinians, including hundreds of innocents, by Israel, which is another terrible setback in moving the world toward peace. This must stop--the US is hindering any ceasefires in the UN while Israel invades and kills without impunity.

Yet, there is hope in all these crises, opportunity for change in all the mess. A people need vision and that's what we all must now work toward. A vision of a just world that is possible. We must not let up. So many retrograde and old ways of doing things will prevail for some time to come. But I sense, and so does most of the world, that the foundation for these are being eroded as we speak.

So for the new year, 2009, I pray that we will continue to cohere as a people, for the most essential policies and actions that bring more peace, more justice, more necessities, more art, more poetry, more dance, more joy to increasingly more people. We can't stop now. President Obama is one major step in this direction. Now's not the time to cut us off from other progressives and revolutionaries, from finding fault in others, instead find what can unite us against the very system that has chained us to our worse capacities. It's time for the best of humanity to win the day.


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