May and November

Today, phone calls and emails, online chats… All with one profoundly positive message. History does not make us. We make history. I have not felt like this since May 20, 2002. And one Timorese friend made the comparison over email as well

After Timorese independence, the election of Barack Obama is one of the great events of the 21st century. It does not matter what may come to pass afterwards. The great step has already been taken.

There is something very true about this feeling. In fact it is not a release, or a moment to kick back. What it means is, an irreversible historical adjustment has taken place. It’s a restoration that brings with it enormous implications and responsibilities.

I wrote on May 21, 2002

Now I can say, that while living in East Timor for 9 months has only deepened for me the complexity of the words “justice” and “independence,” I can see today as the truly emotional and unforgettable day that it is.

Strangely, these feelings have taken many of us by surprise even though we have been working and building up to this day for nearly seven months.

Postscript: I just watched John McCain’s concession speech. Fascinating how the phrase “we make history” has such a different ring to it when he uses it!

Tetum is a more precise language with its two first person plural pronouns ami and ita.

I’m pretty sure McCain meant ami mak halo istoria (the “exclusive we”). This pronoun refers to the speaker and others but excludes the person addressed. Whereas if Obama were to say it, I think he would be using the “inclusive we” (meaning a more abstract all of us), ita mak halo istoria.

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One thought on “May and November

  1. Pingback: Global Voices Online » Southeast Asia celebrates Obama’s victory

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