Thursday, 4 December 2008

Realizing Tomorrow

One of my all time favorite quotes comes from the 32nd President of the United States: Franklin D. Roosevelt: "The only limit to our realization of tomorrow will be our doubts of today. Let us move forward with strong and active faith."

I recorded this quote in my book of quotations and personal poetry on February 23, 1998. At the time, I saw it as a reminder to overcome insecurity, stand up in the face of adversity and take control of my own destiny. I was, after all, 16 years old and was accustomed to getting tangled in a web of my own issues. FDR's wisdom may have been applicable to the country, but it was also relevant to me!

I'm sure that this frequently quoted statement has struck a chord with many over the last half century. I thus wasn't surprised to find others online herald it as a mantra for President-elect Obama and his promise of change for the United States, or that Time Magazine included a cover shot of Obama under the title "The New New Deal." When Obama enters the White House in January he inherits a mess; a mess that requires brains, strong spirit and difficult decisions to clean up.

There is no doubt in my mind that Obama is committed to realizing tomorrow....the question for me, is what exactly that tomorrow will bring in the face of challenges like curbing the looming recession, reforming education and eventually withdrawing from Iraq. Though untested in an executive role, I believe that Obama, like FDR, embraces the American "can do" spirit that when fuelled by smart, lateral thinking is a recipe for progress.

Here in the UK and Europe I've talked to many sceptics, often friends, who challenge this "can do attitude." Some feel it's overly jolly, others that it's insincere or maybe just unrealistic....but I'd never regret being born and bred with the mindset that I could achieve to the best of my ability whatever I put my mind to. To me, it's not about entitlement, or unfathomable illusions of's about staying confident, working hard to achieve goals, and ultimately achieving good, whether it's on a personal or global scale.

Now obviously you could take this quote, twist it around and tout it as a mad fascist or plain wacko because sadly, there are some of those nutters at large who act before they think. In fact this is a common trait among some of the world’s most powerful politicians. But for the average Joe and for a promising President alike, sound judgement coupled with the strength to consult and plan, and decide and implement in order to realize tomorrow is an exercise for the greater good. I think Obama has that in him. But time will tell...

In the immediate, I'm happy to say that British and European opinion toward the United States is already shifting towards a more positive light, much to my joy, and of I'm sure that of my fellow expats. It sometimes gets tiring reminding people that many Americans are not exports of the George W. Bush administration! Let's hope the future fuels this new perspective.

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