Monday, November 03, 2008

What Obama means to me

Tonight, the United States has chosen its new president-elect. Topping news headlines all over, Obama's historic campaign to become America's 44th president is stirring an excitement that seems to ripple through the rest of the world.

I'm watching all the coverage on Aussie telly with a somewhat detached fascination.

My interests for the last year and a half, after all, has been of a more parochial nature. Now as a homemaker, even more so - my days are filled with questions, not about injustices in the world, but if our "larder" is stocked, or the kids (wink!) are well fed and entertained - altogether pretty mundane stuff.

Yet, I wonder about this - there's something about America that holds the rest of us in its sway. We can't help but watch, vicariously enjoying the country's gaffes, its excesses, but also its successes. Maybe it's because America epitomizes the best and the worst of humanity for us, and really compared to us, they are just more honest about it.

And now, with an African American president-elect who will actualize Martin Luther King's famous speech "I have a dream", it is showing the rest of the world that ideals are powerful and can dislodge established norms.

So I guess, in a funny, remote way, I am excited that Obama is going to be the next president. And worried too, because it is reminding me that Dyl will be growing up into a mixed up world.

Think about it - though professedly Christian, this president is going to be one who does not decry diverse sexual orientations, endorses women's right to abort unwanted babies, and excessively uses celebrity endorsement to extend his popularity in an increasingly media-centric populace. And new media too - facebook users, you know what I mean.

It's reminding me that the values that are Biblical, will not be the ones that in Dyl's world, are easily accepted.

Not that these values are accepted in today's world by any stretch of the imagination, and not that I'm not struggling with them myself! But I'm worried nonetheless, maybe precisely because I've fallen victim myself, made so many ill-choices in my lifetime.

Some may say that I'm paranoid to be reading so much into all this. It isn't popular to make sweeping links between American TV and celebrities' influence on our youth, for instance.

But guess what? Now I've got a bit of science to back me up.

A recent scientific study has "caught up with common sense", and definitively found that teenagers exposed to sexual content on television are more likely to find themselves involved in a pregnancy.

I mean, that's just a case in point. The point is, as a Singaporean we're particularly vulnerable to American influence - both good and bad. I'm a case in point, quite frankly.

So in a nutshell, here is Obama as president, means to me. It means:

1. That my child/ren can, and must, fight for their ideals - ideals that matter, and can make a difference in the world, even if at points in time they can seem unattainable, or - ahem - not "pragmatic".

2. That growing up Christian isn't going to be easy. There are too many conflicting messages coming at them. But hopefully with diligence on our part as parents that is coupled with authenticity (as opposed to always being "on the moral high horse type!"), and a whole lot of help from the big guy, he/they'll turn out alright.

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