YES WE DID—and there’s more to do

Eric Schlosser, author of Fast Food Nation, spoke at my college graduation. He began by outlining the state of the world: it was May of 2004 and things did not look good. Growing inequality—both globally and domestically—an unjust war, a plummeting perception of America abroad. It was more of a downer speech than one would expect for a graduation address, but Schlosser knew his crowd well (after all, he’d spent plenty of time in Colorado Springs while researching his book, and he was well-acquainted with the politics of the Colorado College student body) and towards the end of the speech, he delivered a line that went like this:

“It’s up to you to change the world. You don’t think that’s possible? That one man or woman can change the world? Well, I know it’s possible. And if you doubt that for a second, just take a look at the man in the Oval Office. He changed the world all by himself. It’s up to you to change it back.”

Yes, it is possible. And I know Barack Obama can do it.

(We gave Mr. Schlosser a standing ovation. My mother, ever the critic, later complained that the speech was dreary and downbeat. I contended that actually, it was just the opposite.)

But we need to remind him. We need to remind him that change, in order for us to believe in it, means making real progress towards reclaiming this country from corporate America. It means rejecting the dominate trade policies of the last two decades. It means understanding that all people, regardless of sexual orientation, should have the right to marry. That undocumented migrants work hard to make a better life for themselves and their children, and that their only crime is breaking ill-informed and misguided immigration laws that need to be revisited.

For now, though, let us celebrate and rejoice this incredible moment. Because one man has changed the world.

4 thoughts on “YES WE DID—and there’s more to do

  1. Fast Food Nation was our Oswego Reading Initiative selection for campus-wide perusal a few years ago, and I was bummed we never had Schlosser here to speak. We tried, but he changed publishers and his new masters didn’t support him promoting a book someone else published. So his potential appearance was screwed over by … Corporate America.

    I don’t think anyone should expect any major social legislation not of an economic or healthcare nature this term. While most people can see past skin color, many still have a hangup over how people have sex. Those puritan roots run deep. And people focus more on whether or not people follow the laws of the land, rather than whether those laws should be overhauled.

    That pragmatism aside, as I mentioned on my blog, I heard the Star-Spangled Banner at a hockey game last night for the first time since the election, and felt so much prouder about it, about our nation, than I have in several years.

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