November 25, 2008

The pace of change is indisputably increasing, but it’s now officially gone over the edge. There are reports of schools, streets and even a mountain peak being renamed in honor of President-elect Barack Obama. It used to be that naming honors were reserved for after someone’s death, then we started honoring people at the end of a career as a reward for years of service. Sometimes honors are bestowed earlier in a career, recognizing a significant achievement without waiting until retirement. Now we’re talking about changing the name of a mountain for a President-elect, not even a President yet. It would be prudent to wait and see how his career plays out. He might be really good at this President gig, or he might disappoint greatly. It’s too early to tell.

Remember Winnie Mandela? She was a heroine of apartheid, patiently waiting for her husband Nelson’s release from prison, bravely carrying on in his name. The Huxtables’ twin grandchildren on the Cosby show were named Nelson and Winnie. Shortly after Nelson’s release, Winnie Mandela was implicated in the kidnapping and murder of a 14 year old “informant.” Nelson and Winnie separated and divorced, and Winnie was later convicted on fraud and theft charges. It is no longer cool to be named after Winnie.

I bear no ill-will towards our President elect because I don’t wish ill for any human being. We are charged to pray for our leaders, and I will do so. I love my country and want us to thrive and be safe whether it is because of or in spite of our leaders. I realize the historicity of Obama’s election as a mulatto man in a race conscious society, but it would be better to wait and see if he can live up to the hype surrounding his campaign before scheduling his lifetime achievement award dinner.

We need the perspective of history to accurately judge the impact of a president. Obama’s skyrocketing approval ratings may thud to earth when faced with the reality of daily economic decision making, a successful domestic terrorism attack or a mis-handled natural disaster. George Bush’s low ratings may fade from memory as we look back at a time when domestic terrorist activity was thwarted for seven years of peace on our home soil. Let’s not rush history.