Friday, November 14, 2008

Remembering and Forgetting... a 21st century poem

A poppy for a broken man
A butterfly for a child-shaped hole
A pink ribbon where my friend once was
and rosemary for remembrance.

A kiss for any broken skin
A hug for every child in need
A phone call for a friend who lives
and love can heal the world.
November 14, 2008

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Obama the Builder

Well, every blogger in the Universe will be blogging today about the American Presidential elections. I am afraid that I didn't stay the course, fell asleep about 2am, leaving my children following the wall-to-wall election coverage on tv. "Do the Americans watch coverage of our elections?" asked my daughter. Er, no.

I was still wondering whether Americans would be able to elect a black president as I fell asleep... I wondered whether the huge turnout for the elections indicated a late surge for Obama or a mobilization of those trying to prevent him from reaching the White House... maybe it was both.

To be honest I find it amazing that Americans will wait in queues for three or four hours in order to vote. If we had to do that here, I think there would be riots... I have never waited at all. It's strange to me that Americans can be so demanding and complaining in some respects and yet so accepting in others.

In the UK schools and community centres are turned into voting stations, and the system works to ensure that if you want to vote, you can, with a minimum of queuing or difficulty. I don't really understand why it is otherwise in the US. The other thing I found very surprising was a picture of people reading a four-page guide to voting which seemed amazingly complex. I know they don't just vote for president in the elections, but a four page guide seems... well, like it might be an obstacle to voting. And likely to mitigate against people with an aversion to paperwork successfully voting.

A turnout approaching 80 per cent in some area and a landslide victory seems to indicate that the American people were determined to have a change no matter what difficulties lay in their way... and so when I woke this morning it was to Obama making a speech of acceptance. My brother has been on duty all night at television centre in the UK. He hates night shifts, has to rely on a large dose of caffeine to help him through. He wonders if the Americans realise they have elected not Joe the plumber, but Bob the Builder for president. Can we do it? Yes, we can!

My son was the only one in the household who managed to stay the course and watch the coverage throughout. He is completely uninterested in UK politics, and yet has been very interested in the US election. That seems to have been universal here... I think people have come to see how much US actions have hurt the UK in the past eight years, and to realise that although most Americans have little interest in UK politics (or even knowing where the UK is, in many cases) they need to take notice of what the Americans do, because it will bite us in the pocket among other places if we don't.

I don't know what the future will hold. I hope that Obama will close down Guantanamo Bay, and will reverse the policies which have led to the homeland security oppression in the US. I hope that he succeeds in bringing peace and prosperity to the US, not simply because of the knock-on effects to the UK if the US experiences a prolonged recession, but because I think the ideals of America worth a damn... freedom and democracy and human rights... have been eroded over the past eight years and it is in the interests of everyone on the planet for that to be reversed.