Wednesday, 5 November 2008

SEA CHANGE


The American people have resolutely - and in huge numbers - voted Barack Obama in as the first black president of the United States. Shortly after this was confirmed last night, the new President-elect made an extraordinary speech in his hometown of Chicago, giving the world a hopeful glimpse of a new kind of governance, a rapidly-evolving kind of truly inclusive democracy.

The challenges that lie ahead for him, for the United States, and for the world as a whole are the greatest any of us have ever faced. There is no doubt that the task before him as President is nothing short of monumental and, as he said, will require selfless service from ordinary people as much as focus and dedication from government.

But before we think of that, let's just cherish this moment for everything that it is - a time in history when we witnessed a sea change; when overnight the world became a different place.

Avaaz.org is aiming to collect a million signatures of congratulations for the new President-elect, and I have added my name - as well as this special message - to those of the many who have already signed:

"We are so proud to welcome you to the community of world leaders. You are the face of a new kind of democracy that is evolving in the 21st century, and we support your message of peace, humanism, unity, equality, environmental integrity and economic transformation.

"We hope that, like Nelson Mandela did in South Africa, you will break down old divisions, and carry this message out to a grateful and expectant world: WE ARE ONE.

"Let it be known: 'I cannot feast while my neighbour is starving; I cannot sleep easy while my neighbour is in danger; I cannot live peacefully while my neighbours are dying violently.' "

If you would like to add your own message of congratulations, click through to Million Messages to Obama.
Image of Barack Obama accepting election as the President Elect of the United States at Grant Park in Chicago last night courtesy of The Times (Joe Raedle, Getty Images, AFP).

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