Tuesday night will probably be one of those moments in life when people will ask where were you and what were you doing when Barack Obama became the President of the United States of America. I have to say that my answer is not very glamorous. I was actually in the bathroom helping my toddler try to fend off his bout with constipation, when I overheard that Obama passed the 270 mark on TV. I am sure that my son is glad to be part of history in this way. But the following morning as we were all beginning to wake up and gathered on our bed, as is our usual morning routine, we asked our son a question. My wife Theresa asked, “Today you can be anything that you want to be. What would you like to be?” He thought for a few seconds, looked up at us and said with a loud clear voice, “I want to be a dinosaur.”
After all the laughter, and the chuckles that I had throughout the day when I thought about my three year old slowly becoming a dinosaur, I began to think about the hopes and dreams that we all have for our lives. I shouldn’t have been surprised by his answer since he has been infatuated with Dinosaurs for almost two years now. But in his answer, he did not say, he wanted to be a paleontologist to study them, or go back in time to be with them, he actually wanted to be one himself. At this one moment in time, that is his hope and in his striving, he sees no barriers in achieving it.
At what age do these hopes become dashed for us. When do these dreams begin to fade. It may come from inside of us filled with doubts and comes also from external sources such as our parents and family. But as an Asian American, I know our society as a whole has a lot to do with it. As I see the world around us in my daily living, I see hopes shattered all across this country and all across the world. As I see injustices in many places and in California with prop 8’s passing, I feel and see anger and hopes drowning in tears.
As I ponder the gospel message in this week’s lectionary, Matthew 25:1-13, I read of the 10 bridesmaids, all dressed and ready in excitement to meet the bridegroom. They are waiting in anticipation, but their hopes are dashed in the prolonged wait and they all fall asleep. As I see hopes dashed again and again, I also fall asleep at times for extended periods. But in life, things happen that wakes me up, stirs me and points me in the way of hope again.
As I watched with tears in my eyes the new First Family walk out onto that stage at Grant Park in Chicago and heard Barack Obama’s speech to America and to the world, the single word that enveloped me was “hope”. Hope that we can reach for dreams again. Hope that a better America is possible, an America that is just, honest, not only thinks inwardly about its own well being, but works with others to make the world a better place. And an America that breaks down all barriers and injustices between people. In no way do I think Obama is the “One”, the “Savior”, the “great hope” who will bring all of this about, but for me, he is a symbol that points me again in the path of hope and that we can all work together to make change happen for a better world.
As for my son’s hopes of being a Dinosaur, who knows, sometime in the near future with enough genetic engineering and technology, maybe he really can be a dinosaur. But for now, I will continue to provide the environment and work to make the world a place where he and my daughter can dream dreams, see visions and actually make them happen.