Dear Mr. Obama,

 

Congratulations on your arrival into today. I needn't point out that your election has been an amazing journey on a river of pinned hopes. I just wanted to state a couple of my concerns; perhaps they might reach you.

 

1) It seems to me that you have an enormous opportunity to express to people all over our small planet, that americans are ready to work to create an inclusive global community, one with an eye to universal justice, equilibrium of opportunity, and the transcendence of war. One could say dramatically that the majority of the world's population will be persuaded to recognize and control their self-interests, sacrifice their inclinations for excessive consumption for the common good and welfare of the planet and although those of us with roofs and food on the table can easily speak of it, we are all capable of vastly expanding the instances in which we act on principle rather than in greed, vengeance and ignorance. In your inevitable balancing act between domestic and international attention, every time you can find a moment to 'hand' deliver such messages to populations, be it in Sudan or Beijing or Iran or Texas or Mars, the impact may be felt. This is my hope anyway and the world also has such hopes that they are pinning on you and us.

 

2) Of course my dream as expressed above is speculation. It has been said in the debate between those subscribing either to the notion of the Tragic or of the Utopian visions of human behavior, that the success or failure of the species and the planet hinges on whether those with advantages can become perfectly self-less and recognize what is "enough" and whether those with nothing can restrain themselves from lashing out in violence and over-compensation if their chains be removed. In light of the last 8 years or longer, I would hope that the policy of You're on your own, good luck would be seen as a failure. It would also be my hope that another ancient tact, an eye for an eye, would also be recognized as a failure.

 

As to the first point, that success, happiness, and progress cannot be achieved, indeed, that society cannot function without the motivation of the self. And that at our core is the interest in self-preservation and in modernity this means the concentration of wealth. As with packrats (shall there be no more needed evidence to prove the theory of evolution) fear of want cannot subside without over-compensation, just in case. The Tragic visionaries would suggest that the machine is better lubricated by a track, the sprint to the vast sums at the race's end; and shall the best man win, a natural selection. The Utopians would suggest that such stress detracts from a quality of life and that equilibrium of opportunity dictates safety nets. The Tragic visionaries scream that quality of life includes the thrill of a hunt and that social services are gifts to the lazy, pathetic and genetically unfit, depriving the great their just reward. The Utopians might counter that the patriarchy is dying a very slow death and that the veil of delusion dawned by the history repeaters is a thick one.

 

With regard to the latter, the policy of marching around the world killing people to insure security, I suggest that although anyone directly involved with the twin tower collapse deserves sympathy, condolence, even compensation (that the world did offer by the way), there are other paths. I suggest controlling feelings of vengeance, recognizing peoples concerns and listening to their perspectives, and arranging discussions and compromises on the depth and length of our physical and cultural impositions that we point at each other on the shrinking surface of this earth, among others. The difficulty: To those who consider these tacts weak, let them exercise like the pent-up pit-bulls that they are. At issue here is how to grow the population of those capable of mounting a mightier pen. The Utopian visionaries suggest education; the Tragic visionaries suggest that the masses have not the intellect for this. I am not a statistician. The enemy of rational creatures is always over-compensation. One can still argue about whether we are or want to be rational creatures.

 

There is deep analogy between the swells of optimism and pessimism and the action of the sea on the beach. In the spirit of the unifying Obama day I want, as a friend once suggested: to shed my militancy, to rethink the notion of our species' dominant characteristic as creatures in transition from that of the purely instinctual to that of the purely rational and all the complications that this implies, but damn - it's not easy to do so.

 

gibbs chapman

nov. 5 2008