From the first moment I heard Barack Obama speaking, though his venue is politics, I felt that he was emerging as a "voice of interfaith". I watched on television as he announced his candidacy, I joined his web network the day it was put on line. I followed his amazing campaign, as he organized the most powerful political network in American political history. I watched him as he appeared on hundreds of stages and platforms, repeating his positive and visionary message, in a humble and good-humored and inclusive spirit. He was the living embodiment of Bill Clinton's call for "more friends and fewer enemies". And all the while, his message never varied, his vision never changed. He was steady, straight, constant, totally focused, deeply centered, inspiring people everywhere he went with the same message.
He understood the skills of a "community organizer" to the core of his soul -- how to work in a context of deep diversity, how to bring diverse people together, how to bring out the best in everybody, how to keep the message and vision as positive as possible, with as little criticism as possible.
Last night, in his toast and honoring of John McCain, that same brilliantly inclusive skill was illuminated, as he invited McCain's engaged participation in the work that is before us as a nation, and as a world. "I need your help, I need your point of view, let me know if I get off-track, thanks for the great contributions you have made..."
As his campaign unfolded, I wanted to describe his style as a "politics of redemption". Obama looks out at the world -- and though he is well-aware of the challenges, the enormous pain and injury, the huge cultural chasms and conflicts -- he sees the world as inherently good. He looks at the United States, well-aware of what has been happening to our national reputation and image around the world, and internally, to our own sense of national identity -- and he sees us as an inherently good people. He sees the goodness in our system, in our Constitution, in our legal and civic framework, in our national history. He looks out at a diverse group of people, and he sees the goodness in those people -- and he calls them together through that goodness. Obama makes America good, because he sees America as good, and by that simple affirmation, he calls us all to that goodness. In this way, by his vision alone, he redeems us, he heals us, he empowers us.
For me, and I think for hundreds of millions of people around the world, who may not be able to articulate what it is they are experiencing or feeling, this is almost a mystical experience. Obama is moving and speaking through a kind of core power of goodness, a kind of steady principle of truth and invincibility and humility, that is capable of bringing the goodness of the collective human community into focus. His energy and body and entire presence seem to glow with the internal radiance of divine grace. He is humble, normal, just like the rest of us, unpretentious, ready to admit mortal frailty, moving through the world in a way that brings goodness into focus everywhere he goes.
He seems to understand all these newly emerging principles of group process. He is a natural and instinctive practitioner of the underlying principles of "Appreciative Inquiry". He sees the good and clarifies it, he sees what works, he draws everyone to it. He understand the core power of "sacred listening". He doesn't claim to have "the answers". But he strongly affirms that working together, all of us, as a nation, or possibly as a world, we can create those answers. Within this framework, Obama will convene his "team of rivals" -- and under his watchful eye, they will soon no longer be rivals, but will find themselves all on the same team -- seeing the world from different angles, and pulling their collective skills into common solutions that can succeed in highly diverse contexts.
Obama understands "dialogue". He understands "co-creativity". He understands how to tap the core powers of goodness -- in the universe, and in everyone he meets. And he does all of this -- with no explicit reference to religion or doctrine or dogma. Millions of people everywhere can feel this -- can feel the love, the honor, the truth, the humility, the goodness -- that his "politics of redemption" brings out in all of us.
His emergence is unprecedented in the world. He is the living embodiment of a "new paradigm", of a new way to understand human civilization.
Of course -- he needs our prayers, our best wishes, our support. He needs this goodness that is everywhere. He needs this act of faith and trust and belief and confidence and affirmation. He needs us all to know that "yes, we can".
Today is a breathless moment. Here in the USA, I feel that we are being touched by highest grace.