Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Why I Voted for Obama, Since You Asked

Someone graciously asked me why I voted for Obama. Here is my response:

I voted for Obama because his platform lined up with my views on more points than did McCain. I felt McCain would cater more to the rich and capitalism's dark side, though I respected his POW/Vietnam experience deeply. I also admired Obama's character, leadership style, transparency, and journey. I admire his family and appreciate his wife, which says something about the man. I acknowledge there is "spin" everywhere, so I can only go on face value. I was intrigued by how many people rallied around him, voted for the first time, and mobilized on his behalf. People I respect also voted for him and gave me good input.

However, from my perspective, how can I ever truly judge a politician equitably and authentically from this distance? I gotta go with my gut, listen to what lots of other thinkers are saying, compare platforms, pray, and then flip a coin. I had reservations. I would with any candidate.

I understand any campaign makes huge promises and any president has much less control and power once elected, so I don't go much on promises. Once in office, they get much more information, and get pulled by so many people. Not to mention, the process of American government is balanced and yet so complex. So, I am a "wait and see" voter. I, shallow as it sounds, end up simply voting for the one I like the best or fear the least after I do my research.

I still respect Obama. There is valid criticism. There is ill-informed criticism. It is WAY too soon to judge how he is doing. I get a kick out of the fact that there is a group of critical voices outraged that he won a Nobel Peace Prize because they feel he hasn't done anything. Yet that same group is outraged by what they credit him with doing. I know that is way oversimplified, and not a completely fair point, but it makes me smile.

I learned a big leadership lesson in my one year in school administration. As a leader, there are so many sides to any story, so many people with opinions who think you should please them first, and so much insight and information that comes your way as a leader that others are not privy to hearing. People you lead can never gain that much insight into why you do what you do. Yet people form opinions from a half-informed, subjective perspective, and get critical. That's just leadership. So, as a young administrator, I vowed to never criticize a leader from my limited perspective, knowing I don't have all the facts. I wait and see how things go long term, trusting God.

I trust God more than government. Most of us do. Obama is our president. I am learning how to show respect, since I saw how badly Bush was treated, regardless of my opinion. God blesses all nations. The U.S. may or may not be in the front of that line. God will work through our leaders, but that work may not look like we thought it would.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

U2 Rose Bowl Concert

The U2 concert affected me in many ways. I'll share some impressions here. It has been over a month since my husband and I attended the U2 concert at the Rose Bowl, Pasadena. What a day! What an event! I am a U2 fan, both for the music and stories told, and for the power of celebrity used for good to change the world. However, I am not as extreme a fan as many I know and love are. In fact, I mentioned to Glen that I feared the U2 police might ask me to step outside as they noticed I was in violation of fan policy #1, #2, and #3. Definitely in violation of policy #4.

U2 Fan Policy
1. Must know all songs by heart and sing along.
2. Must stand the entire concert or a minimum of 95% of the time.
3. Must tip head back, close eyes, and sway in dreamy fantasy fashion for all slow songs performed.
4. Women: Must have some sort of rock star crush on Bono.

I was permitted to stay the entire concert, as it turned out. I was relieved. I actually do know more of the songs than I'd realized.

Other Impressions
  • The crowd: Oh, my goodness! 96,000+! That is a massive group of people. U2 has all ages and stages of fans and the people watching was superb. In our section, there were people our age, kids, groups of women out for a night with wine glasses in hand, stoners, and a couple that had flown in from Hawaii. Men in groups, families, and couples. Friends from church were there. Although I did not know it at the time, co-workers and husbands were there, too. Other friends were there, too, though we only connected through text messages.
  • More about the crowd: Navigating a crowd that size took some effort. We pulled into the stadium parking around 1:00pm, since the potential of traffic delays when you have to get approximately 32,000 cars off at a couple of exits and parked scared us into getting there early. There were food booths and entertainment -- music and NFL on big screens -- set up like a massive tailgating picnic prior to the concert. We didn't see any of that, though we did have our own picnic, while sitting in portable chairs we had brought. We relaxed and read and snacked the afternoon away. We also watched people complain at parking guys trying to get them parked in an orderly, functional fashion. May I never turn into a Parking Lot Princess!
  • Even more about the crowd: We got to our entry gate before 5:00, since the gates were supposed to open at 5:00 for the 7:00 concert. We had to get in a long line. Gates opened about 5:30 or so and our line moved peacefully into the stadium, but I was tired of standing. We found our tunnel to get to our seats. I was really glad we'd eaten near our truck, because the people walking through the crowd with a tray of food in one hand and some beverage in the other really had to use some creative maneuvers to push through and not spill!
  • Prices: The food, though it looked tasty and interesting, was expensive. Parking was $25 or more. And the tickets. Well, two and a half days of subbing for Glen paid for those. Well worth it. Many of the crowd looked the age that they'd probably had to hire babysitters, too -- another pricey addition to the evening budget. There were a lot of babysitters hired for the evening from the looks of things. I do wonder what the economic impact of the evening was for Pasadena food, parking, and hotel businesses. A good night for some businesses, no doubt.
  • The choir: When we sang along, it was impressive and moving to me. I will not soon forget that sound -- a good choir, really. There was a sense of unity...all sorts of people, with one voice. It was powerful to me. There is a sense of love and peace in that setting that gives hope for the world, though it is a fleeting feeling in reality. How does music pull people together like that? Amazing.
  • The crew: Wow! I was fascinated by all the people involved in the production, especially now that I help a little with production of services at my church. I am amazed at all the people doing things well does take. They even lowered lights from the top of "the claw" to the stage before U2 and strapped in 3 people to operate the big lights, then hoisted the equipment back up probably 70 feet or so. Yikes! There were four sets of three people doing that. Amazing.
  • The technology: The guy from Hawaii, mentioned earlier, took our picture for us -- our camera had broken -- and e-mailed it to us right then and there. The technology of the stage and all the components was stunning. Part of the set-up extended down seven stories, and then collapsed back up. It was also a screen for more visuals. Awesome. In fact, as we walked through the tunnel prior to the concert, and I saw the stage in front of me like a giant spacecraft, I just screamed with excitement. Again, I'd never seen anything like that at a concert, but then I haven't been to a rock concert in years. It was so cool!
  • Concerts at age 54: Concerts are very physical! I'd forgotten that from the younger years of going to concerts. The walking. The standing. Climbing the steps to our seats -- steep steps at that Rose Bowl! The crunch on the knees -- the rows of seats are too close together, like flying economy. And enduring the lines for the bathroom and pacing when to get in line so as to stay comfortable and also not miss much. And two words. Ear plugs. Bliss.
  • Bathroom story: while waiting in line for the women's restroom, a small conversation started around me...finding out how far people had traveled to be here and such. So, then I told a woman to enjoy the concert as she walked away. She turned and said, "You, too." I laughed and repeated, "U2," and she realized she'd punned. And we laughed together.
  • The genius of the band: They connect intimately with the crowd. They encourage everyone to sing with them. They entertain. They impact through excellence as performers and musicians and through promoting social justice. They don't take themselves too seriously -- there were whimsical parts. And they leverage their popularity through several generations. It was a big deal to be there in person. These guys are bigger than the Beatles. I can't imagine having seen the Beatles. I did get to see U2. I will look back on this day with delight for my lifetime. And this band gave 150% -- they gave us such a great night, encores and all.
  • Lights: The lighting for the concert, for the stadium, and most of all the lights of cell phones added some amazing features to the night. We were asked twice to hold up our cell phones and almost all stadium lights were turned off. It was like a man-made Milky Way. I loved it! Loved it! So cool.
  • The Peas: That was fun. Not too familiar with Black Eyed Peas --or so I thought, though I think the female has a most awesome voice. They were awesome! And I was familiar with all the songs they did. Cool!
  • Glen: Sharing the evening with Glen was a big deal for me. He is a HUGE U2 fan. HUGE. He'd seen them in 1987. So he is the real deal. To see him enjoy this concert just blessed me. I was so happy he could be there. I was so happy to be with him. So glad we got the chance to go, thanks to a Facebook friend. It is a chance to enjoy each other, play together, and do something we love. Good for the soul of a marriage.
  • Smoking, drinking: It is somewhere between interesting and annoying to see (and smell -- gross!) to watch what fans like or need to relax and to increase the enjoyment of the evening. Big night for alcohol vendors from what I saw around us. I'd forgotten that sober is not everyone's choice for an evening.
  • Spiritual power of music: When music tells a story, when a song feels like a familiar friend, when you are there in person with singers, when you sing with a huge crowd, when you listen to lyrics that move you, it is a spiritual experience at some deep level. Interesting. We felt a part of something bigger than anyone of us. For a few hours.
  • Adjective shortage: I used the word awesome way too much in this post. Oh, well. It was awesome!