To many across the world, Obama has made history. He has blazed a trail no ‘Blackman’ has ever trodden, though his chromosomes were harvested from the ovaries of a Caucasian and the loins of a Negroid; two races that are somewhat diametrically different in several ways. He has made history no doubt and blacks in America now rejoice and many would now see White House as “Blackman’s House’ too. To many, Obama has become a messiah of sorts and they don’t seem to doubt their doubts nor try to question the basis for their misplaced hopes in a mortal.
But come to think of it, Obama didn’t really make history so to speak. He in a sense validated history rather than create one. A recreation of history was what he duly achieved, and I envy him in no small way as it’s only a few mortals that can woo the whole world into frenzy like Obama. He succeeded because he actually is a true student of history who understood the spiritual dynamics of history making and its creation. The Greeks understood this and their philosophers expounded on it and not a few across the world know this. And many who understood the ranting of this philosophers and sages and went on to imbibe the espoused principles have been ably privileged to make history like Obama just did.
When a young Jewish rabbi stepped unto the dusty roads of Palestine at the dawn of 2 millennia ago, the Romans didn’t know their empire was about to lose its power over the world. He was a student of history and the sages of his day were amazed at his depth of knowledge and understanding of LIFE. As a toddler, he engaged them in a long debate and they felt flustered and discombobulated at his wits and oratory. As a ruddy Youngman, he walked on the streets on foot while kings and nobles rode on horse backs. His ordinariness made him look powerless like a poor and voiceless man but he would one day ride triumphantly on a donkey that trudged on the beautiful apparels strewn on the dusty lanes to Jerusalem.
They saw in him a messiah for when he opened his mouth; the well-crafted words that exuded were mingled with wisdom as they flowed effortlessly to the amazement of the peasants and nobles alike. He gave expressions to the longings of their hearts. He made them know that change or anything “.is possible to them that believed’ since there are really no impossibilities under the face of the sun. The custodians of the established ‘socio-religio-political’ systems of his day felt threatened and they had to kill him, not for what good he did, but for what he believed, taught and lived for. A tiny band of his followers would document and bind his teachings into an anthology and many lives have that have read and poured through those words of this rabbi have been transformed since that Book was canonized.
Many have used the teachings of this rabbi and the example he lived as basis for their efforts to bring dignity to man. And when Martin Luther King Jr. began his civil rights movement in the 1960s, he based his struggles on the grounds that God created everyone equal irrespective of the colour of their skin. The genetic compositions and morphological dimensions of the physical bodies of the different races of humanity are more or less alike. A Nose is a nose; an ear detects sound and the brain interprets the tone and meaning. The legs carry the weight of the body when we sit or stand and walk. Every race or ‘genre’ of humanity all laughs cries and loves alike. All races hate, kill and destroy equally. And more importantly, all races create and make WORDS; they all articulate speech in words that are ferried into the hearts of the hearers to cause a change, oftentimes a revolution! That was the medium the hallowed and revered Jewish rabbi, Yeshua Hamashea (a.k.a. Jesus Christ) used to elicit one of the most enduring revolution ever known to man; revolution during which swords were either slipped back into their sheaths or plowed into a sickle! He did what he did in the hearts of men without shooting a cannon or an arrow.
Leo Tolstoy, the respected Russian nobleman and esteemed writer was amazed when he discovered this method of steering a revolution without the shedding of blood after studying the teachings of this Jewish rabbi. He articulated his findings in a book, “The Kingdom of God is Within You” and espoused the principle of non-violence or better called non-resistance as a means to achieving a revolution. The non-Jewish man, Mahatma Gandhi (a Hindu man) would become influenced by this way of thinking.and through much persuasion and oratory, he convinced his Indian brothers and sisters to confront the British Imperialist forces with hands bereft of swords and no triggers to clutch. Without shooting or firing a bullet in the real sense, change came to India and so did freedom begin its reign in the hearts of Indians who are one of the most patriotic and nationalistic beings on earth!
Martin Luther King (MLK) Jr. also read and swallowed up the words of the Jewish rabbi and believed vehemently in their veracity and potency and impact on the hearts of those that hear them. The rabbi had said that those who love (self-preservation) their life would lose it, while those that hate (self-sacrifice) theirs would eventually gain it. MLK whose neck-collar as a reverend gentleman was enough to guarantee him some degree of respect and dignity, but he chose to remove that toga so he can embrace the pains of the disenfranchised people of colour. The power of those WORDS (of the Jewish rabbi) that he had read began to seethe and transform into a dream within him. Thus did he begin to articulate the dream of freedom for all races irrespective of colour or creed. He began to dream of the universality of freedom that ensures the preservation of humanity from the dictates of selfishness and villainy.
Hear some of his words:
A genuine revolution of values means in the final analysis that our loyalties must become ecumenical rather than sectional. Every nation must now develop an overriding loyalty to mankind as a whole in order to preserve the best in their individual societies.
First we are challenged to rise above the narrow confines of our individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity. The new world is a world of geographical togetherness. This means that no individual or nation can live alone. We must all learn to live together, or we will be forced to die together.
So it was not just a mere coincidence that on the 40th anniversary of Martin Luther’s historic speech, “I have a Dream” that Barack Obama accepted the nomination of the Democratic Party as their presidential candidate. Obama had been propelled to the public stage by the same momentum that had driven MKL to the public podium where he made speeches that touched hearts like Obama’s. A careful review of the speeches and approaches of Obama shows that he had adopted the same principle of universalism which draws humanity into one large and connected community. As a civil rights lawyer, he had defended the cause of the economically vulnerable, disadvantaged and disparaged members of his society; a trait that most revolutionaries have in common.
For when one exits from the preoccupation with self and project his energy into helping and meeting the needs of others, he/she inadvertently keys into a reservoir of power that is beyond him. Statesmen of old have proven this; selfless politicians know this; great inventors have experienced this; avant-garde artists know of this phenomenon; and the list goes on. When they stepped out of the cocoon of self, they become elevated in a sense to a realm of existence that only a few men have walked in. Martin Luther King (MLK) talked about his dream of a changed America, Obama latched in on the moment to prove the veracity of MLK’s optimism. Like MKL, mammoth crowds pressed together to hear Obama speak in Berlin and Paris, and many others got bitten by the bug of his change mantra while glued to their television sets; which can be translated as ‘ MLK’s Dream Has Now Come True!”
Messianic figures usually step out when the stage is set; times of despair, hopelessness and fear. With their oratory and charm, they paint a picture of a tomorrow that is better than today and bereft of the frustrations and disappointments of yesterday. Adolf Hitler would paint the picture of a superior Aryan race that would subjugate the world and his German audience got inspired to wage the war to conquer the world. Winston Churchill in response to Hitler’s treachery created the picture of invincibility in the hearts of despairing Britons. They would rise from the rubbles of German bombs to ally with other nations to defeat Hitler and his marauding army. That is the turf of messianic figures and Obama’s rise is not completely a new phenomenon though he deserves credit for the records he had broken politically speaking.
The present Obama’s phenomenon was possible because the people of America and the world had become disillusioned with the American leadership and the negative impacts it has had on the economy, politics and culture of other races. For many, Obama has evolved into an epiphany; a messiah of sorts that would bale the world out the economic and political quagmire we’re stuck in. That may explain the pervasive acceptance he has had worldwide; more than any living or dead president of any nation. But like most messianic figures, Obama may not fulfill the dreams of change he had envisioned and inspired in the hearts of his hearers and supporters worldwide. The non-performance of his campaign manifesto would make many to malign and crucify him at the stakes of public opinion. From the celebrity figure he now is, Obama might someday be tagged with the persona non grata toga in the hearts of disappointed disciples.
He would someday face the reality that the spiritual halo over a messianic figure doesn’t necessarily shield him from failure, especially in the eyes of both his supporters and detractors. His failure at bringing true freedom and change might make him become the fodder for the canons of the political and religious opponents whose authority and power of control had become weakened by the entrance of Obama on the messianic scene. When this happens, he would experience the metaphor of triumphantly entering Jerusalem as a King, only to be humiliated and crucified as a villain and enemy of the peoplen like the Jewish rabbi, Yeshua Hamashea! The same crowd that hailed Obama will likely be the same crowd that will angrily chant “To hell with Obama” and mock him as he carries his cross to Golgotha; to the place of skulls where outcasts are crucified!
The world and humanity at large should place our hopes on the right place, and not necessarily on persons. Charismatic people are also mortal humans and messianic figures will also come and go, but what matters is what they leave imprinted on our hearts. The Jewish Rabbi died, but left hope in the hearts of his followers who were ready, and indeed died for the values and principles he had taught them. The kingdom he came to establish was one that was ‘within’; one that changed the thinking of many and their actions. That is what most messiahs are able to do. Martin Luther King Jr. was mortal, hence died from the gunshots of a trigger-happy assassin, but his death changed the political landscape of America. In the same vein, John F. Kennedy died from the well-aimed hit of another assassin. Obama is a mortal like us, and we would do him much good by not elevating him to the realm of a messiah which he is not, and may never be. Rather, humanity’s hope for true freedom should be placed in the right perspective. We might have ability to change and transform our destinies, but there is a power beyond our ability that can bring lasting change. When we tap into that, then we would experience true freedom of our spirits!