Friday, January 04, 2008

The Time Has Come

A story, quite possibly apocryphal, but illustrative none-the-less.

During the time of the freedom-riders, organizers from the North spread out across the South, training blacks, young and old, on how to register to vote, on how to appeal for their rights and on how to deal with the inevitable blows they would receive along the way. In one particular town, a group of young blacks were trained on the tactics of civil disobedience. The training went on for months. They, being young, were itching for the chance to go out the front-lines of The Struggle and make their mark. But there's was a small town, outside the main battlegrounds of said struggle. The organizers kept telling them it wasn't time. They weren't ready yet. They would know the time when it came.

On one particular day, a black youth was arrested by the police for some infraction f the segregation codes of the day (the specific infraction is unimportant to the point of this story). The word spread throughout the youth of the town and an impromptu march formed to walk down main street to the jail and protest the youths arrest. The organizers, seeing this spontaneous demonstration, rushed out to meet it and, once again, urge its members to remain cool and wait for the right time.

"If not now? When?" Asked one of the youths at the head of the group. The organizer paused, struck by the intensity of the demand behind the question. He paused and then stepped aside.

The time had come.

This is what I am feeling tonight. I have had my problems with Obama. I have been and remain concerned that he is naive about what a message of hope can achieve against the extreme partisanship of the Republican Noise Machine. I have been and remain annoyed that Obama has been too willing to adopt right-wing talking points when countering some of his critics from the left.

But there comes a time when concern has to give way to the momentum of the moment. There comes a time when the rock has to yield to the force of the water.

Perhaps, tonight, we have seen the first sign that the time has come.

I certainly hope so.


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