An Ode to Tomorrow

Though the future is yet unknowable, let us for a moment imagine that when we wake tomorrow it will be a new day in America.

Let us appreciate the poetry that once upon a time, a one-term
congressman from Illinois became President of the United States and
freed four million African slaves and, 145 years later, an African
American first-term senator from Illinois - borne not of the rapacious
legacy of that compulsory migration but rather of a voluntary choice by
two adults - should become President of that same land.

Let us imagine that a nation once built on the scarred backs of
black Africans could, in arguably her darkest hour since, be rescued by
the son of a Kenyan exchange student and a white American woman from
Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.

Let us imagine that that man and woman could have met and married
amid the sweltering heat of Jim Crow America and, just two weeks before
the courageous freedom rides of 1961, produced a child whose very birth
would seem a hopeful reminder of America's long-deferred promises - of
racial harmony, of social courage, and of the power of love to free us
from the shackles of our self-annihilating prejudice.

Let us imagine still that that young child should, through hard work
and self-acknowledged providence, have become the figure of serenity,
fortitude, vision, and grace who has stood before us for 23 long months
and kept his dignity.

Let us imagine that beside that graceful man has walked his true and
intrepid partner, co-parent of two confident and glowing children, who
likewise has conducted herself with poise, substance, and candor --
cognizant of yet unspoiled by the toxic air of Washington.

Let us imagine that, opposite them, an opportunistic campaign of
division, viciousness and ideological bankruptcy was overcome by one of
decency and depth -- that an effort to appeal to our lesser selves, to
that in us which is divisible, was defeated by one that appealed to the
best in us, to that which is indivisible.

Let us, though, not be fooled.

Let us not allow ourselves to be lulled into false comfort.

Let us go to sleep tonight and luxuriate, yes, in one night of hopeful rest.

And let us in those hours of sleep not plumb the darkness of the cynicism and doubt that have become a national affliction.

Let us sleep not with anger but in peace, secure in the hope that our hope shall endure and even prevail.

Yet let us wake tomorrow more vigilant than ever to ensure that the
new day upon us shall not become the elusive phantom of a dream.

Let us commit ourselves - each of us individually and in concert --
to whatever it will take in time, energy, and resources to demand that
promises made along the way will be kept and that compromises struck
will be weighed against the greater gravity of the challenges we face
and, if judged inappropriate to the moment, be replaced by enterprises
of greater courage.

Let us not forget that today's triumph can become tomorrow's loss if
the battle won dulls our resolve to fight the larger war - a war not of
bombs, machines, hubris, corruption, and shortsightedness (we've done
all that) but rather one of souls, humanity, decency, justice, and,

Let us recognize that no single man -- no matter how talented or
well-intentioned -- can possibly be a substitute for the much-needed
chorus of a democracy.

Let us recognize that for that man to fulfill his promise to realize
the kind of change we seek -- in the care of our bodies, our minds, our
children, our planet, our streets, our livelihoods, and our security --
that we ourselves must be the agents of such change, whose unrelenting
commitment to fundamental reform will be needed to give him the
fortitude to battle the disfiguring forces of Washington.

Let us not forget:

a government not of men but of laws,

a government of separated powers not arrogant ones,
a government of checks and balances honored not suspended, and finally,

a nation that is ever a work-in-progress, at her best when she
recognizes and seeks to mend her frailties and at her worst when she
denies them.

Let us not forget that, without accountability for the trespasses of
recent years -- the errors and wrongdoings that have cost tens of
thousands of lives and shattered millions more -- there is insufficient
motivation for real and systemic change.

But of course, there will be time for all this.

For now, let us join with those around us in jubilation, with
family, friend, and stranger alike, and commit ourselves that we shall
all meet again -- daily, weekly, in whatever ways our waking moments
allow -- to build the community, nation, and world we seek.

Join Us: News for people demanding a better world

Common Dreams is powered by optimists who believe in the power of informed and engaged citizens to ignite and enact change to make the world a better place.

We're hundreds of thousands strong, but every single supporter makes the difference.

Your contribution supports this bold media model—free, independent, and dedicated to reporting the facts every day. Stand with us in the fight for economic equality, social justice, human rights, and a more sustainable future. As a people-powered nonprofit news outlet, we cover the issues the corporate media never will. Join with us today!

Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.