Many Rivers to Cross – A Boomer’s Remorse

Leadership, the River and the Promised Land

Somewhere we got the idea that an age of fulfilled promise and hope is beyond our grasp. How many opportunities do we have in a lifetime to change the direction of a government? How many times do we have in a lifetime to impose the will of fair, honest policy, of truly new vision, on an awkwardly political and corrupt system?

In 1968, when passion moved both reverends and radicals to march together to change the outcome of failing social and political processes, we had Abbie Hoffman and Tom Hayden to radicalize us, Martin Luther King, Jr. and Bobby Kennedy to point out the way and Eugene McCarthy to take us down the road. We looked to them as agents we could count on to force change.

For forty years we have wandered in the wilderness of post industrialism, replacing the carefree excesses of free love with the careless excesses of conspicuous consumption. It’s as if the will to fight for our dreams died on a motel balcony in Memphis, or in a hotel ballroom in Los Angeles, or behind a cloud of teargas, billy-clubs and bayonets on the streets of Chicago.

When we had opportunities to grow, we shrank back; when we had opportunities to move forward, we shuffled in place; when we had opportunities to apply the wisdom of organization, of raising consciousness, of being in action to create change, we remained in ignorant bliss, watching MTV, buying PDAs and and investing in the dot-com boom.

Well now I wonder. Our Moses has “been to the mountaintop” and “seen the promised land,” and while many believe that was the end of it, it was not over. We actually have the ability to move forward across the Jordan.

(Please indulge me this biblical exploration, my friends. I’ve only a little more to go.)

Yes, we elected a new congress, one that we thought would lead us in a new direction. But they were like the ten doubtful spies that returned after exploring the Promised Land. Their minds were hardened by the old ways of Egypt, that even after all we have witnessed in the past forty years, even the battles of the last seven years, they doubt the strength of the faithful. They bow instead to the establishment, to the milquetoast centrism preached by the priests of the Democratic Leadership Council.

Yet some do know. I believe that, like Joshua and Caleb, Barack Obama and Dennis Kucinich can lead us away from those who would sacrifice principles for the purse. But it does not have to be them. In fact, there is no them without us. We the people inherit the land. We the people create the change. Once more, we must wade into the river. Once more, we must be faithful that the water will abate until we are safely across. Once more, into the breach.

Who would have thought we would have another opportunity to overcome? Let’s not let this one pass.


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