Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Dear Ms. Williamson.....

The following is a reprint of an article penned by Marianne Williamson for the Huffington Post. I tried to find a way to contact Ms. Williamson via her website but to no avail. So, I decided post my reply here. Hopefully, somehow, someway she will read it.

It's hard to own the disappointment I feel over our moderate corporate Democratic President. The whole Obama phenomenon brings up memories from my distant past: the good-looking guy who talks real good, whose line you don't buy immediately but whose charm is so dazzling that he gradually convinces you that this time it will be different.

Yeah. Right. Really different.

What the current administration is giving us is minimal change. And not because the President hasn't had the time to do better; if he had truly wanted to make fundamental change, he would have gone in there fast and done his own version of shock and awe in the first hundred days. And not because he didn't realize how mean all those Republicans can be, either; Obama knew what he was getting into, and if he didn't, then he was as unprepared for the job as his opponents said he was. I see so many people now -- many of them men, interestingly enough -- tangled up in an almost school-girlish, co-dependent, apologetic relationship with this President. As though "poor baby" should be tacked onto the end of every description of his failures.

I see all things political in light of the immense unnecessary suffering in the world. Republicans see it and say, "Wow, it's sad about all that suffering, but the government has no proper role in assuaging it. Hopefully the private sector will do something. That would be nice." The Democrats -- not all of them but enough of them, and definitely this President -- see all that suffering and say, "Wow, it's sad about all that pain people are going through. Let's try to assuage it."

And yet they're refusing to do anything to challenge the underlying forces that make all that suffering inevitable.

I remember Bobby and I remember Martin. I remember when there was a moral force
at the center of the Democratic Party. I see it sometimes still, in a Sherrod Brown, a Dennis Kucinich, an Anthony Weiner. But they're not reflective of the general tenor of the Democratic Party anymore, and I think we would all do well to wake up to that fact. We elected Obama and then he sort of became someone else. He's doing a lot of good things in various areas, but he's certainly not changing the new bottom line: that corporations get to run the world.

He bailed out the banks, but he didn't stipulate that they had to start lending again. He got us health care, but he wouldn't say a word about single payer and he wouldn't raise a finger for the public option. He won the Nobel Peace Prize, but accepted it with a speech that was an apologia for war.

Democrats seem to have no idea what dark wave is rushing towards them in the form of the 2010 mid-terms. They have no idea how many people will be too depressed to go vote, who'll be thinking, "We tried so hard last time, and what did it get us?" They have no idea how many people are thinking, as I am, that it's time to face the facts, no matter how painful they are. If Obama doesn't retrieve his spine and retrieve it soon, then his Presidency will go down in the history books as one of the biggest disappointments in American history.

In the meantime, we should be looking at our options. In "Healing the Soul of America", I wrote about Ghandi's notion of soul force in politics and why it matters to stand on your truth. Should we re-brand the Green Party perhaps, or draft another Democrat to challenge Obama in the primaries in 2012? I don't know what we should do, but I know one thing that we shouldn't do: pretend to ourselves that this man is delivering on what he promised when he first won our hearts.

Dear Ms. Williamson,

First let me start by saying what a profound impact you have had on my life. Actually, I can't really describe or quantify the impact that you have had on my life, only know that I, like millions of people in the world, have been forever changed by your words, thoughts and writings.

That said, I read your post on The Huffington Post with equal parts eagerness and trepidation. The title hinted at the content, but since it was written by you, I was compelled to read what you had to say on the subject of President Obama. I have purposely tried to avoid negative and non-constructive criticism of his presidency, mainly because I have no recollection of Mr. Bush's first year being so fraught with critiques and negativity, especially not by the people who elected him to office. I have been slightly dizzied by the turn that supporters of Mr. Obama have taken, so much so that I have stopped listening.

However, I read your post and some of the comments that followed. Ms. Williamson, I understand the deferment of the dream. The dream of Mr. Obama marching into office, bolstered and empowered by an historic win, and TRANSFORMING life as we know it. We would all wake up to a world that is on its way to true peace, an America that provides health care to its people, a comprehensive overhaul of the educational system, women's and gay rights safeguarded and Wall Street and corporate America having been firmly punished and set on their heels. I would be lying if I said I didn't wince when Mr. Obama was awarded the peace prize. I whole heartedly believe "that wars are poor tools for building peaceful tomorrows."

So, I get it and I understand. However, two things occur to me that I feel absolutely compelled to mention.

First, we elected Mr. Obama to be the President of the United States. Not just the president of liberals and progressives. The United States. In his inaugural address, he made it a point to speak directly to those who didn't vote for him (something like 43% of voters). I was there and I remember thinking that he really meant that. He is, and has always been, a man of moderation and unity. That is who we elected to do the job. Ms. Williamson, not everyone in America shares our vision. Not every woman believes that women should be able to decide when and where to have a baby. Not every American believes that healthcare should be a right. President Obama is our president as much as he is the president of all those who marched under the Tea Party banner. And here is the kicker, he is actually taking that very seriously. We the people have the health care plan we want. We the people have the health care process we deserve. And that, unfortunately, has nothing to do with Mr. Obama's spine. Would you really want George Bush? Just a George Bush who does what WE want? Because we are right? Because we are more moral? I don't want that, Ms. Williamson, and neither do you. Yes, it would be great for a minute, but the reality is, that would make "us" no better than "them". I never felt that George Bush was my president, and he wasn't. He didn't care about what I thought and he glibly and callously proved that with every choice and decision he made. It occurs to me that the real change is that our President actually believes and trusts in the ideals of democracy and sees himself as a servant. Perhaps that is why he looks as though he has no spine. Because he is a servant, to all of us. But, that is the job description. Public servant.

Second, miracles occur everyday. All the time. And Ms. Williamson, it is always darkest before the dawn. Mr. Obama is right, it does take audacity and boldness to hope, to believe. Especially in the face of what looks like defeat. We are not defeated. We can still believe that a better day is around the corner. We can still organize for health care, education, abortion rights and gay rights. It is not over. But the miracles have to occur over here where we are, on the ground. Just like the miracle of emancipation and the right to vote. It happens when WE continue to believe. And then march. And then continue to believe. And VOTE. And continue to believe. And right letters. And continue to believe. We cannot let our disappointment define us in this, the most important moment in what can still be a significant movement in American history.

I have nothing but the upmost of respect for you Ms. Williamson. From the bottom of my heart I thank you for your contribution to the world and to my life. You are truly a gift. I also want to thank you for reading this email. It is means the world to me to be able to correspond with one of my sheroes!

May this year bring us all the peace we desire. Many blessings to you in 2010, Ms. Williamson.


  1. Dear Visibility,

    I am greatly appreciative of your latest post. I, too, am an enormous fan of Marianne Williamson's words and have found her wisdom helpful and enlightening since I was in high school. That being true, I must confess to being nonplused after reading her Huffington post article. The concerns she shares over Obama's seeming complacency or ineffectiveness as our president so far capture in a nutshell what I consider the loss of innocence for many of us liberals. I suppose I should speak for myself, as a liberal, and I will admit that his presidency has been more confronting at times than celebratory. But not because I've expected him to right all the Republican/conservative social and political ills that have plagued the average American's basic human needs (ie, healthcare, education, etc.) for decades. Rather, Obama's presidency has forced me to wake up to the reality that I abide in a country (and world) with millions of others, for better or worse, who simply DO NOT share my views. I have spent many years of my life being naive and completely self-absorbed as I had actually thought that the prospect of well-being for us all was the inevitable direction that humanity is destined by our OWN volition to move in. Obama, in many ways represented the possibility of that idyllic world finally coming to fruition. And so, why not instantly, to boot? And then reality set in.

    The difficult lesson in all this: one man, no matter how extraordinary, cannot transform an entire system (and furthermore, a system whose underpinnings are rooted in an age old mythological belief-system that is equally wrought with inequalities and biases that are held fast by millions of people) that may not WANT to change in the first place. I have had to remind myself time and time again that he is the leader of us ALL, not just my liberal friends, whom at one time made up the entire world worth living in in my imagination. The political system and body of people that Obama is the leader of was not built in a day, and it certainly will not become reorganized or reconstructed in a day either. Instead of holding out for that hope, while living abroad, as I happen to be, I have found it much more constructive to be a stand in conversation and in my actions (in the psuedo-ambassador-like role I play as an American abroad in these times) for the kind of socially and politically more compassionate world that I dream about, a tact which Ms. Williamson reminds us of through the estimable example of Gandhi. Moreover, it has still remained useful to stay in communication with those politicians who are our leaders in Washington with the power to make change, however small a change it may seem to us in the short term. Making change is a process, not an easy fix. Perhaps these and similar courses of action might prove more proactively effective than we can begin to imagine, rather than to resort to whining, complaining, and giving up on our still newly elected president because of what he still hasn't yet accomplished in his first year as commander-in-chief of a 200+ year old governmental system.

  2. Thank you so much for posting. It was thoughtful and complete and I am very grateful that you took the time to read and post.

    I have yet to find a way to get my reply to Ms. Williamson. If you have any ideas, please let me know. So far, this is the only forum I have to air my ideas and thoughts regarding what she posted on the HuffPo.

    So, anyway, thanks again my dear reader! Keep reading and please keep posting!

  3. Great response to Ms. Williamson's piece. I wholeheartedly agree! But why don't you post your reply on the Huffington Post? I'm sure that they read ALL replies. Also then, others who read it will benefit from your insightful analysis.