I feel that people shouldn’t expect too much from Obama really. Its the idea, the concept, that spark of light in the darkness that should excite them whatever happens here on in. The Palestinians will still want to kill all Israelis, The Israelis will still not want to give up any inch of their territory, the extremists on all sides will still dig in – but for one magical moment, we all saw what was possible. The next generations have at least seen some spark to illuminate and guide their way forward. Just like when Mandela was released, Martin Luther king Jr’s great speech – and so on. Once in a while, a light flares up in the darkness.
I once started writing a story about an old man who is totally disillusioned about everything. He has lived long and come to see all his hopes and dreams dashed, poverty and disease ravaging his beloved country, a raging seemingly intractable civil war and the possibility of a humiliating and painful death at the hands of young boys he had seen grow up rudderless. So there he is contemplating what might have been and raging against fate and God. He is questioning all his assumptions and beliefs, bitter, disillusioned and broken.
Then something happens and a young boy pursued by the militias manages to pass by. The frightened boy pleads for help. The old man, upon seeing the fear and desperation of the boy, upon seeing a young life with so much to live for about to be snuffed out, snaps himself out of his depression and quickly assists, sheltering and hiding the boy. The rebels know him well as that dirty, broken, mad old man that walks around his broken neighborhood muttering to himself, gesticulating wildly and cursing God aloud. So they ignore him and pass him by. So he shelters the boy till nightfall then leads him through some secret paths and enables him cross the border. However one of the rebels that never liked the Mzee doubles back and arrives just as the boy is clear across a raging impassable river (Congo) and the mzee is just cutting the last threads of the ricketty rope bridge.
SO as he is about to die at the militia’s hands, about to face the most heinous torture they can devise, he is suddenly calm. He finds some inner peace and strength. And some resolution at last. Here is some of the old man’s monologue as I had imagined it would go:
“Why…that is it, the old man thought. It doesn’t matter that this dark God of ours is cruel and perverse, it shouldn’t matter – because we could still choose the light. We have free will, you see, that is the ace. Cut through all the religious mumbo-jumbo and that is all that’s left – free will. Think about it, if the whole world were dark and void, with nothing but howling monsters roaming around, well then… even the tiniest pinprick of light, even the smallest glowing ember, would be visible for miles. And all it would take is for one person to cup that tiny ember and blow gently on it, pile some leaves on it and keep blowing – and soon, it would be light. So what really matters is the possibility of that glowing ember. As long as that possibility exists then it is all right, that is the best we can expect, that the mere possibility exists. We should not expect more than this. it is for us then to grope and fight our way to that one ember and fan it into a blazing fire and recreate the dark void as we please. As long as that possibility exists we can never give up. It is foolish to give up then. And can anybody even at their most disheartened claim that these points of light do not exist? There is still much goodness to be found. Numerous kind acts still light up our darkness only that these are few and far between. But to the wise man, or the enterprising one looking for a sign, this should be enough. Because if we can find 1 good person, we can find 10 and if we can find 10, we can find a 100. And if a 100 then naturally a 1000 and so on.
So we should cease to live for the here and now which is merely a confused darkness, just a hunger and striving that obscures the truth. We should live for possibilities and the knowldege that creates such possibilities. We should be in constant search for those tiny pinpricks of light amidst the darkness and once we find them, ensure they are not put out. These are our salvation and our tools for redemption. Do not let anyone lie to you or mislead you. It doesn’t matter your version of God or the devil. The truth is in those points of light, those singular acts of kindness, heroism or sacrifice. Those are revelations of truth. Cling to them with all you have. They will light up your darkness and point to you the way”
And he would sigh, with deep sadness that he had come to this realization so late. He turned and calmly watched the thugs approach. One had unsheathed his large blade and was menacingly, theatrically waving it slowly about in anticipation…The others howling with glee. But this was a different old man; he didn’t fall gibbering to his knees, grovelling and pleading. Something in his eyes made them hesitate…he looked at them not with hate or fear…but with a calm sadness…and even love. The end would not be swift, but it didn’t matter. He was ok now.