Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Chop Wood, Carry Water

Well, my freinds. We've finished an election year. We have done the thing that was declared impossible. As a nation, we aimed for something greater than ourselves. Something greater than Barack Obama. We moved beyond our fear into the unknown. That is called faith. Faith is greater than an affiliation with any group. Faith is the belief that beyond the trials of now, we can do better, we can create a world that transcends color, that transcends religion, that transcends our daily bread.

So will we wake up tomorrow and find that the sky is a different shade of blue, that our coffee is better, our lover more beautiful, our finances magically fixed? Most likely not. The hard work has just begun. We, as a nation, have signed up for a tough job. But the important thing is that we've signed up.

I don't know if President Obama will fix everything. I firmly doubt that he is the messiah. But I do think he is a leader. I do think his mind is one of the finest of our time and I think he has the stamina and the gifts to pull us through this time. As he said in his acceptance speech, its time for all of us to lay aside our cynicism, put our shoulders to the plow, and take responsibility for ourselves individually and as a whole. We are our brother's keeper.

One of the labors of Hercules was to clean the stable of King Augeus. The king kept a herd of gigantic horses there. Gigantic horses make... well, you know. Apparently the king had a difficult time keeping farm hands. The horses were ill tempered, had huge iron-clad hoves, and made a huge pile of manure on a daily basis. The mortality rate among the farm hands was more than the king's liability insurance could handle. Ergo, piles of shit higher than the towers of the palace. The king required that the cleanout occur in one day, and if completed, Hercules would receive 1/10 of the kingdom.

Rather than pick up a shovel, Hercules was able (by virtue of his divinity) to divert the flow of two swift rivers through the barn. Of course, this was a completely unexpected approach to problem solving. King Augeus did not want to pay for the unorthodox approach to barn maintenance and things did not end well for him.

The point is that a) we have a big pile of feces in front of us that needs cleaning and b) a shovel and wheelbarrow aren't going to do the trick. Barack Obama may not be Hercules, though. Maybe we are, collectively, Hercules. And by applying creativity and elbow grease, we can meet the labors before us.

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