Community Update

World Pulse Toolkits Available!

At World Pulse, we recognize the need for ongoing learning—for you and for your community! Our toolkits are all available here.

We are especially excited to share our signature Citizen Journalism and Digital Empowerment Curriculum. Start learning today!

Introduction

I am new to PulseWire and World Pulse, but am very excited to be joining this online community at such an interesting time. The debate about the importance of the internet and communication technologies in promoting change has been ably demonstrated this week, when Americans exercised their right to vote and elected their first President of colour, Barack Obama.

Barack Obama is of mixed origin. His father was a Luo from Kenya. I had the good fortune to visit Kibera slum in Nairobi in June. There were bars and shops named after Obama- 'the Senator' as he was then. The people I met were excited at the prospect of having a 'Kenyan' in the White House.

I found the discussion on Barack Obama's ethnicity interesting, and was struck how people are defined by their blackness as opposed to their whiteness. We focus on the marginalisation and the struggle and experience gained.

I think what Barack Obama has done is to give that struggle a positive focus, a realisation of dreams and progress towards greater justice and equality in the world, for all those who fight the good fight.

As women as well, there is great opportunity to participate in the changes we hope for at this time. I look forward to getting to know more about other women using this network and sharing stories, resources and ideas for change.

I would like to share some words of wisdom from Alice Walker to Barack Obama:

Dear Brother Obama,

You have no idea, really, of how profound this moment is for us. Us being the black people of the Southern United States . You think you know, because you are thoughtful, and you have studied our history. But seeing you deliver the torch so many others before you carried, year after year, decade after decade, century after century, only to be struck down before igniting the flame of justice and of law, is almost more than the heart can bear. And yet, this observation is not intended to burden you, for you are of a different time, and, indeed, because of all the relay runners before you, North America is a different place. It is really only to say: Well done. We knew, through all the generations, that you were with us, in us, the best of the spirit of Africa and of the Americas . Knowing this, that you would actually appear, someday, was part of our strength. Seeing you take your rightful place, based solely on your wisdom, stamina and character, is a balm for the weary warriors of hope, previously only sung about.

I would advise you to remember that you did not create the disaster that the world is experiencing, and you alone are not responsible for bringing the world back to balance. A primary responsibility that you do have, however, is to cultivate happiness in your own life. To make a schedule that permits sufficient time of rest and play with your gorgeous wife and lovely daughters. And so on. One gathers that your family is large. We are used to seeing men in the White House soon become juiceless and as white-haired as the building; we notice their wives and children looking strained and stressed. They soon have smiles so lacking in joy that they remind us of scissors. This is no way to lead. Nor does your family deserve this fate. One way of thinking about all this is: It is so bad now that there is no excuse not to relax. From your happy, relaxed state, you can model real success, which is all that so many people in the world really want. They may buy endless cars and houses and furs and gobble up all the attention and space they can manage, or barely manage, but this is because it is not yet clear to them that success is truly an inside job. That it is within the reach of almost everyone.

I would further advise you not to take on other people's enemies. Most damage that others do to us is out of fear, humiliation and pain. Those feelings occur in all of us, not just in those of us who profess a certain religious or racial devotion. We must learn actually not to have enemies, but only confused adversaries who are ourselves in disguise. It is understood by all that you are commander in chief of the United States and are sworn to protect our beloved country; this we understand, completely. However, as my mother used to say, quoting a Bible with which I often fought, "hate the sin, but love the sinner." There must be no more crushing of whole communities, no more torture, no more dehumanizing as a means of ruling a people's spirit. This has already happened to people of color, poor people, women, children. We see where this leads, where it has led.

A good model of how to "work with the enemy" internally is presented by the Dalai Lama, in his endless caretaking of his soul as he confronts the Chinese government that invaded Tibet . Because, finally, it is the soul that must be preserved, if one is to remain a credible leader. All else might be lost; but when the soul dies, the connection to earth, to peoples, to animals, to rivers, to mountain ranges, purple and majestic, also dies. And your smile, with which we watch you do gracious battle with unjust characterizations, distortions and lies, is that expression of healthy self-worth, spirit and soul, that, kept happy and free and relaxed, can find an answering smile in all of us, lighting our way, and brightening the world.

We are the ones we have been waiting for.

In Peace and Joy,
Alice Walker

Comments

jadefrank's picture

Welcome!

Hi Ina,

Welcome to PulseWire! I am so proud of my country this week. For the first time in many years, I have not felt the shame of being American. For the first time in my life, an overwhelming majority of the people here in the United States have made a clear, positive and thoughtful decision. This decision was to go to the polls and vote for Barak Obama. And what a wonderful time for African Americans and Africans across the world. Mr. Obama is a great man and he is the beacon of light and hope that our country and perhaps our world needs now. Electing Barak Obama was just the first step in realizing the modern sense of justice and equality that our nation has lacked. I am exited to see what happens next.

Thank you for sharing the words of Alice Walker in her letter to Obama. She's a wonderful writer. I look forward to hearing more of your ideas and thoughts here on PulseWire.

Warm Regards,
Jade

sallyreb's picture

Welcome to PulseWire

Dear Ina,

Welcome to PulseWire! I also think that technology and the changes in political power in the US offer great opportunity to work for positive change. The PulseWire community can help us connect and support one another.

It is interesting to hear that in Narobi bars and shops have been named in honor of Obama - Wow! That makes me feel so pleased about his election. After so many years of feeling that the US had lost goodwill in the world it is wonderful to feel apart of the world community again.

Thank you for sharing Alice Walker's letter, she is one of my favorite writers and I had not yet read that letter.

I look forward to learning more from you and to future discussions.

Best,
Sally

PulseWire Online Volunteer

Dave Alexander's picture

Obama, Person of Integrity

Hello Ina,

First, welcome to PulseWire.

Second, thank you for sharing the words of Alice Walker. My interest in PulseWire is because I want to support the Voice of the Feminine Spirit rising in everyone, women and men. Alice does this beautifully and is a role model to each and all of us. She acknowledges his success based on his “wisdom, stamina, and character;” she asks him to love his family while he loves his country; she wisely counsels to “hate the sin, and love the sinner;” and she offers a role model, the Dalai Lama. Magnificent. I honor her voice, clearly a powerful expression of the feminine spirit, and you for bringing her words to us. Thank you.

Third, thank you for bringing forward something that has always interested me – how do we empower the less powerful without disempowering the more powerful? I have this concern because when we take something away from the powerful they have, historically, gotten angry and violent often leading to greater power imbalance and thus more suffering brought upon those we originally struggled to empower. I think the feminine spirit has the answer, and you hit upon it – we must shift our focus to what we share without creating more divisions that attract our attention to difference.

What most moves me about Obama is that, so far, he is about what we share. For me the people of Kenya should be proud that their tradition of greatness is now reflected in the American presidency. I pray that their excitement stems from that reflection and not from the idea that they will somehow receive special attention because of their shared cultural origin. This is the challenge of creating equitable change – who do we help first? When we choose a first, the not-chosen ask us, “Why them, why not us? If the not-chosen can make a compelling case that it was related to race, color, religion, personal preference, corruption, etc., they can begin to tear down well intended processes of change that would, in time, have gotten to them. So far, I see Obama recognizing that we all must rise together, with greater rise for the less prosperous. He understands that the well being of a nation is founded on the condition of their lesser economic classes; that even the rich will collapse if the rest of us cannot buy food or get medical attention.

He speaks about the working classes and the underrepresented peoples together, not as separate special interest groups from among which he must select the more important. I heard in his acceptance speech a clear understanding that the underrepresented need more representation because, and only because, they are under represented. The specific nature of their under representation is not a concern of President Obama regardless of how Citizen Obama may feel. I believe this will be his greatest power, his integrity – his willingness to act in the best interests of a world, as president of a country, as an authentic person of integrity and hope, and to do so without corrupting the purity of his position with his personal opinions. I believe we can expect this of him, and I believe he will better rise to the occasion if we do.

Like you, I see Obama shifting us from the marginalized to the populations of which they are a part, from divisiveness to inclusion, from the symptoms to the disease. I see this as a hopeful time where underrepresented voices of similar integrity will have far greater opportunity to be heard, listened to, and acted upon.

In Friendship, Dave...

"You must be the change you wish to see in the world."
-- Mohandas K. Gandhi

Magazine »

Read global coverage through women's eyes

Letters to a Better World

Letters to a Better World

Community »

Connect with women on the ground worldwide

shazia @ shiree's picture

BANGLADESH: Finding Fatima

Campaigns »

Be heard at influential forums

WWW: Women Weave the Web

WWW: Women Weave the Web

Programs »

Help us train women citizen journalists

World Pulse Voices of Our Future

World Pulse Voices of Our Future

Blog »

Read the latest from World Pulse headquarters

The Women of World Pulse LIVE: Meet Olanike

The Women of World Pulse LIVE: Meet Olanike

Partners »

Join forces with our wide network of partners

Nobel Women's Initiative

Nobel Women's Initiative