March 16, 2008

"We are the ones we've been waiting for."

Andrew Ferguson tracks down this slightly odd phrase of Barack Obama's. Is it eloquent or is it awkward? And what does it mean? "We are the ones we've been waiting for. Obama and his followers are perfecting postmodern reflexivity. It's a campaign that's about itself. The point of the campaign is the campaign."

We are the ones we've been waiting for. The first thing I thought of was the old 60s slogan: We are the people our parents warned us against. And doesn't that make sense? You've heard of these people out there and imagined them, and then it dawns on you that they are us. As Pogo once said: "We have met the enemy and he is us." Obama's phrase — which Ferguson traces to Alice Walker (and thence to "left-wing-radical-feminist-bisexual poet June Jordan") — is a nicely positive use of what is a not that unusual rhetorical device.

53 comments:

Windbag said...

Kellogg's Corn Flakes...taste them again for the first time. Makes about as much sense. Vapid.

B said...

We are the ones we've been waiting for

Inane Vanity.

rhhardin said...

It's from Christian Schutze's ``Stencilled Speech for All Occasions'' (cited in Adorno's _Jargon of Authenticity_)

In a time such as ours - I have mentioned it already - in which the perspective of things has everywhere begun to waver, everything depends more than ever on the individual who knows of the essence of things, of things as such, of things in their authenticity. We need openhearted people who are capable of this. Who are these people? - you will ask me - and I will answer you: You are they!

Bigger excerpt here

B said...

Of course, right now while we are discussing the utter emptiness of Obama's "feels good" speechifying, John McCain - the adult in the Presidential race - is in Iraq visiting our troops and the Iraqi leadership.

McCain meets with Iraq.
Obama wants to meet with Iran.

McCain with our allies.
Obama with our sworn enemies.

And people can't make up their minds?

Sheesh!

Ninja Pirate said...

It's a nauseating phrase. When I first heard it I thought "liberal Calvinism".

rhhardin said...

Nice cite of Obama video by Belmont Club.

John Stodder said...

Wasn't that line on "Lost" a couple weeks ago?

titusgrandjete said...

Is anyone else excited about John Adams which starts on HBO tonight?

Ron said...

Can we have Michelle Obama sing "I'm every woman"?

former law student said...

The best place to find a helping hand is at the end of your own arm.

It’s not just that the cavalry isn’t coming — THERE IS NO CAVALRY!

We're the ones we've been waiting for.

The creed of our democracy is that liberty is acquired and kept by men and women who are strong and self-reliant, and possessed of such wisdom as God gives mankind -- men and women who are just, and understanding, and generous to others -- men and women who are capable of disciplining themselves. For they are the rulers and they must rule themselves. -- FDR

Middle Class Guy said...

And Hillary's slogan can be, to paraphrase Seinfeld, a little campaign about nothing.

I liked the references about attempting to translate the sentence into French. I can translate Obama's campaign into French:

il audace, il audace, tu jours, il audace.

former law student said...

Easily googled up two references: it's the Hopis, stupid. And the phrase translates easily as "Nous sommes ceux que nous attendions." Although the attribution may be specious, the story was allegedly collected in Arizona in 2002 by one E. Ann Baldwin.

GOOD GRIEF. Yes, Maria Shriver DID use it in her speech for barack Obama at an event in Los Angeles. You know, Maria Shriver? Arnold's wife? Any discussion here goes to show how desparate people get when they try to find something wrong with Senator Obama.
I think the text of the whole free verse is extremely applicable:

The Hopi Elders Speak

We Are the Ones
We've Been Waiting For

You have been telling the people that this is the Eleventh Hour.

Now you must go back and tell the people that this is The Hour.

And there are things to be considered:


Where are you living?

What are you doing?

What are your relationships?

Are you in right relation?

Where is your water?

Know your garden.

It is time to speak your Truth.

Create your community. Be good to each other. And do not look outside yourself for the leader.
This could be a good time!

There is a river flowing now very fast. It is so great and swift that there are those who will be afraid. They will try to hold on to the shore. They will feel they are being torn apart, and they will suffer greatly.

Know the river has its destination. The elders say we must let go of the shore, push off into the middle of the river, keep our eyes open, and our heads above the water. See who is in there with you and celebrate.

At this time in history, we are to take nothing personally. Least of all, ourselves. For the moment that we do, our spiritual growth and journey comes to a halt.

The time of the lone wolf is over. Gather yourselves!

Banish the word struggle from your attitude and your vocabulary.

All that we do now must be done in a sacred manner and in celebration.

We are the ones we've been waiting for.

Lettre des Anciens Hopis

Raibi, Arizona
Mercredi 26 juin 2002

Vous avez transmis à tous que c'est la 11ème heure
Maintenant vous devez retourner leur dire que c'est l'Heure
Des choses sont à considérer :
Où habitez-vous ?
Que faites-vous ?
Quelles sont vos relations ?
Etes-vous dans la relation juste ?
Où est votre eau ?
Connaissez votre jardin
Il est temps de dire votre vérité
De créer votre communauté
Soyez bons les uns avec les autres
Ne recherchez pas le leader à l'extérieur de vous
Ce moment peut être agréable
La rivière coule vite maintenant
C'est si grandiose et si rapide que certains en seront effrayés
Ils se sentiront déchirés et ils souffriront grandement
Sachez que la rivière a une destination
Les Anciens nous recommandent de laisser la rive, d'aller au milieu de la rivière,
de garder les yeux ouverts et la tête hors de l'eau
Regardez qui est là avec vous et célébrez
En ces temps-ci de l'histoire, nous ne devons pas prendre sur un plan personnel
ce qui arrive ou nous arrive.
Au moment où nous le faisons, notre croissance spirituelle et notre voyage arrivent
à une halte.
Le temps du loup solitaire est terminé.
Rassemblez-vous - bannissez le mot" lutte" de votre attitude et de votre vocabulaire.
Tout ce que nous faisons maintenant doit se faire d'une manière sacrée et dans la célébration.
Nous sommes ceux que nous attendions.


Les Anciens



Source: Transmis par Eann Baldwin : eannbaldwin@starstream.net

Sloanasaurus said...

Obama just picked up some new victims to exploit - Bear Sterns stockholders.

Pogo said...

We have met the enemy and he is us.

Kyle said...

"We are the ones we've been waiting for. The first thing I thought of was the old 60s slogan: We are the people our parents warned us against."

The Obama slogan makes me think of a Hollywood feel-good movie tagline. Like a lot of those taglines, it's almost painfully pithy and glib but does communicate a worthwhile thought. The phrase obviously means that Americans keep waiting for someone or other to step in and make all the difference to our messed-up public life, and that this someone has turned out to be the people who have signed on with the Obama campaign. They aren't just his followers; they constitute a movement that will redirect American life. Of course this redirection will take the form of making Obama president, but that outcome looks pretty good next to the alternatives.

Kyle said...

"We are the ones we've been waiting for. The first thing I thought of was the old 60s slogan: We are the people our parents warned us against."

The Obama slogan makes me think of a Hollywood feel-good movie tagline. Like a lot of those taglines, it's almost painfully pithy and glib but does communicate a worthwhile thought. The phrase obviously means that Americans keep waiting for someone or other to step in and make all the difference to our messed-up public life, and that this someone has turned out to be the people who have signed on with the Obama campaign. They aren't just his followers; they constitute a movement that will redirect American life. Of course this redirection will take the form of making Obama president, but that outcome looks pretty good next to the alternatives.

Kyle said...

"We are the ones we've been waiting for. The first thing I thought of was the old 60s slogan: We are the people our parents warned us against."

The Obama slogan makes me think of a Hollywood feel-good movie tagline. Like a lot of those taglines, it's almost painfully pithy and glib but does communicate a worthwhile thought. The phrase obviously means that Americans keep waiting for someone or other to step in and make all the difference to our messed-up public life, and that this someone has turned out to be the people who have signed on with the Obama campaign. They aren't just his followers; they constitute a movement that will redirect American life. Of course this redirection will take the form of making Obama president, but that outcome looks pretty good next to the alternatives.

former law student said...

Thanks, Pogo!

Obama just picked up some new victims to exploit - Bear Sterns stockholders.

Fallout from the free market -- as a libertarian I can only say "[Stuff] happens." The same groups that pushed to dismantle the banking regulations instituted during the Great Depression must take their lumps now.

john said...

fls -

It's "Oraibi", not "Raibi", but that's not the only fishy thing about that purported Hopi quote. I could not trace your link to this, could you check it and let me know?

Thanks,

Sloanasaurus said...

Fallout from the free market -- as a libertarian I can only say "[Stuff] happens."

Yes I agree. I think some of the rating agency firms should go belly up too. They are also at fault for giving AAA ratings to wrapped securities.

Still, the market is going to freak... the idea that your investment in a company like Bear Stearns that was worth $100 per share can go to $2 in a day is quite alarming. We still don't understand how Bear can be distibuished from everyone else...

former law student said...

www.lespasseurs.com/lettrehopis.htm

Middle Class Guy said...

We are not surrounded. We are attacking on all sides.

ricpic said...

We Are The Ones We've Been Waiting For

I stood in front of my house.
Then I walked away, I went away,
I walked to the end of the block,
Then I turned right and walked down to the end of that block,
Then I turned right again and walked down to the end of that block,
Then I turned right a third time and walked till I found myself home
And saw the little boy I was when I started out
Standing in front of my house.

Robert Holmgren said...

Can't be waiting for June Jordan--she's deceased.

George said...

"We are here!" shout the Whos in "Horton Hears a Who." "We are here!"

Zeb Quinn said...

With Wright and Rezko, is the vacuous Obama campaign now on the precipice of immolation? Or is it just me thinking that?

Tim said...

"It's "Oraibi", not "Raibi", but that's not the only fishy thing about that purported Hopi quote. I could not trace your link to this, could you check it and let me know?

Indeed. What is Hopi for "eleventh hour," before the White Man came?

Regardless, the Ohbami are not only in dire need of earthly salvation, or so they think, they need to find salvation by saving the whole of us, therefore the circular, facile nature of "We are the ones we've been waiting for" has endless appeal. And, like any cult, it reinforces that they are special; they have found a new way to a new Truth that only their new Leader, Obama, can lead them and the rest of us.

Spare us from "We are the ones we've been waiting for," for there's real work to be done by folks without fanciful dreams of magical thinking.

Mark Daniels said...

It is, like nearly all campaign rhetoric (or advertising of any kind), an appeal to the electorate's ego. We are the ones we've wanted to rescue us, is its message. Of course, it also says that Obama is the instrument of our rescue, a notion he and his wife have buttressed by saying that he'd had no intention of running for president, but that it would have been arrogant for him to ignore the call of those who see him as the instrument of their rescue.

Mark Daniels

employee1 said...

I took it as a more affirmative version of "be the change you wish to see in the world."

Fen said...

I see it as a message of responsibility. Stop waiting for the Mesiah to return, we are capable of fixing our own problems.

Of course, these people can't pay attention long enough to understand whats happening in Iraq. Not the ones I trust to bring good Change[tm]

From Inwood said...

"We are the ones we've been waiting for."

Sounds like some outake from a Seinfeld episode.

Or maybe it's Casey Stengel or Yogi Berra.

Or maybe Chevy Chase in polspeak

"We're the Barack Obama we've been waiting for & they're not."

Song "I Know That You Know":

I know that you know
That I'll go where you go
I choose you, won't lose you
....
©

Cedarford said...

Althouse - a nicely positive use of what is a not that unusual rhetorical device.

Disagree. It is a vapid and glib rhetorical device that panders to the audience while allowing the speaker to remain uncommitted and spouting generalities instead of actual positions or ideas.

It can be used on any question.

"How do we get energy independence?"

"Well, we have to start with we are the People that can achieve energy independence. We are capable of that. We will get things done. We need to have the hope and dream within ourselves that we will achieve energy independence.

Next question?"

"But what about wind...."

"I think I answered you. Americans themselves are the instruments of their own destiny to achieve energy independence..."

It's all garbage that anyone could say, but in the cadences of black preacher oratory, it leads to a sense in the minds of good little liberals that something great and profound was just uttered.

From Inwood said...

Wait, I've got it: Gertrude Stein.

titusqrandepleayin5thposition said...

I want to see a vlog of a boxing match between palladian and dtl with Althouse being the judge.

That would be cool.

titusqrandepleayin5thposition said...

Actually mud wrestling would be better.

Mud wrestling naked and althouse commenting/judging topless.

titusqrandepleayin5thposition said...

Let's scrap the dtl and palladian mud wrestling and just have althouse rolling around the mud naked and keep saying i voted for russ feingold.

I like that better.

Daryl said...

Whenever the left wants to foist a radical new idea on America they claim it actually came from some ass-backwards pelt-wearing tribal backwater. Aside from being not a good source of ideas for how to govern America, why the fascination with tribal societies?

Nobody ever talks about the folk wisdom of white people, back from the days whites ran around in animal skins. When's the last time you heard a Hun quoted for truth?

Eli Blake said...

The truth of the matter is, we had a plan for energy independence in the 1970's, and it was never followed up on.

If we really wanted to be energy independent then we could become energy independent. The recent bill that Congress passed and the President signed that will raise CAFE standards for the first time in more than 30 years is a good first step. Investments already being made in alternative energy sources (such as a wind farm which will soon be built near a small town a few miles from me, and a solar farm that will be constructed down in southern Arizona) will also help with this objective.

It is interesting that most of the opposition to this kind of thing comes from conservatives who have essentially two, and only two lines of response: 1. it can't be done, and 2. we can't afford it.

So I put this to the test. They like to say that about the new lightbulbs too. So I put them into my house. I am in fact quite satisfied. It is true that they cost more than regular bulbs up front, but I have not yet had one burn out (which by now I'd have expected at least a couple to have burned out) and I've been pleased with the fact that my electric bill is less than it used to be (I can't directly trace that to the bulbs, of course, but there is a clear trend downward so it seems likely that the new bulbs are in fact saving me some energy costs.

Iapetus said...

Isn't it clear that this is a call for reformation, not religious, but political? The Obamites are then the chosen people who will cleanse the temple of DC, led by the Prophet Barry.

Mr. Forward said...

Present.

Michael_H said...

"We are the ones we've been waiting for."

Today being St. Paddy's Day, I believe that I will wait for myself in a pub.

You can wait for yourself with me if you'd like.

I hope the pub won't be so busy that no one will wait on us because even though I will be waiting, I am not a waiter.

Meade said...

All I know is - Alcoa CAN'T wait.
Why is that? I have no idea.
Maybe they just can't stop...
thinking about tomorrow.

Crimso said...

"It is interesting that most of the opposition to this kind of thing comes from conservatives who have essentially two, and only two lines of response: 1. it can't be done, and 2. we can't afford it."

It can be done, and we can afford it. The reason it won't be done is that we will be entangled in the ME regardless. Energy independence, which might ultimately make sense from a cost-to-the-consumer standpoint (in that it at least would promise the prospect of more stability in prices), wouldn't matter. As noted before. Look at how much European and Japanese oil comes from the ME. Look at the combined size of their navies vs. ours. They simply can't protect their own supplies. We can certainly leave them to fend for themselves (you know, go all unilateral and cowboy), but there are large populations in Asia who get very nervous about that, recalling as they do the last time Japan tried to secure their own oil supplies.

bearbee said...

Eli Blake said...
The truth of the matter is, we had a plan for energy independence in the 1970's, and it was never followed up on.

Oil became plentiful again and cheap and we became complacent again. We no longer have the option of plentiful or cheap.

We Are the Ones We've Been Waiting For

Henry said...

Ninja Pirate said, It's a nauseating phrase. When I first heard it I thought "liberal Calvinism".

Brilliant. When we were God we predestined ourselves to be us.

Michael_H said...

"We no longer have the option of plentiful or cheap."

Eliot Spitzer sure found that out the hare way.

dbp said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
dbp said...

Daryl: "Nobody ever talks about the folk wisdom of white people, back from the days whites ran around in animal skins. When's the last time you heard a Hun quoted for truth?"

Leadership Secrets of Attila the Hun

Ann Althouse said...

titusqrandepleayin5thposition said..."Actually mud wrestling would be better. Mud wrestling naked and althouse commenting/judging topless."

Hey, that reminds me: Last night, I dreamed I met Titus. For some reason, he was very tall and funny looking... sort of like Lurch.

From Inwood said...

Trooper Y

Help me with some movie dialog

Lovers and Other Strangers, to be precise.

The bride to be has a garrulous air-head Kahlil Gibran-spouting friend, who is fixed up for the wedding weekend with some guy (Bob Dishy) to whom the friend babbles things like the Barack quote here.

And then there's the bride's dad (Gig Young), who, in a public ladies bathroom, imparts some memorable words of non wisdom to his mistress (Anne Jackson), reminiscent of our memorable Barack dialog here.

From Inwood said...

This just in

What Barack really said was

"We are the God-Damn Amerikkans we've been waiting for!"

Middle Class Guy said...

Ann Althouse said...
Hey, that reminds me: Last night, I dreamed I met Titus. For some reason, he was very tall and funny looking... sort of like Lurch.

Oh, that is cruel. Herman Munster will be devastated.

Sherryelyn said...

From the website of author Gary Zukav--

http://www.zukav.com/message_wearetheones.html

Quote:
-----------------------------------
WE ARE THE ONES WE'VE BEEN WAITING FOR

"When I first heard of Thomas Banyanca, a beloved Hopi Elder, I was attracted to his name. Years later I heard him speak to a small group in the mountain town where I lived. He sat on a folding chair with us gathered around him, looking as though he had just stepped out of a corn field in the Hopi Nation. His jeans, flannel shirt, old boots, and rough hands together showed us how closely he worked with the Earth. He spoke in a robust, friendly way but I didn’t appreciate his message at the time as much as I do today.

In his grounded and humble manner Thomas shared a message of clear intent and great import – words that he had been authorized to speak on behalf of the Elders of the Hopi Nation. My adopted Sioux brother recently sent me some words that Thomas Banyanca had spoken to his family in 1970. They were the same words that he had spoken to me and my neighbors a decade later:

We are the Ones We've Been Waiting For

We have been telling the people that this is the Eleventh Hour. Now you must go back and tell people that this is the Hour. And there are things to be considered:

Where are you living?
What are you doing?
What are your relationships?
Are you in the right relation?

Know your garden. It is time to speak your truth. Create your community. Be good to each other. And do not look outside yourself for the leader. This could be a good time.

There is a river flowing now very fast. It is so great and swift that there are those who will be afraid. They will try to hold onto the shore. They will feel they are being torn apart and they will suffer greatly.

Know the river has its destination. The Elders say we must let go of the shore and push off and into the river.

Keep your eyes open and your head above water. See who is in there with you and Celebrate.

At this time in history, we are to take nothing personally. Least of all ourselves. For the moment that we do, our spiritual growth and journey come to a halt.

The time of the lone wolf is over, Gather yourselves!

Banish the word struggle from your attitude and your vocabulary.

All that you do now must be done in a sacred manner and in Celebration.

We are the ones we've been waiting for.

- The Elders, Hopi Nation, Oraibi, Arizona

What river is now flowing fast? Where is it? What does it have to do with you? "

_______________________________

Gary Zukav is the suthor of the best selling "Seat of the Soul", and other books for spiritual seekers. (I've read many of them.)
Oprah Winfrey is also a fan of Zukav's.

"We are the ones that we've been waiting for" is a deeply spiritual message. In a world where people tend to blame "Them", as well as wait for "Them" to save us, why does it not occur to us that WE are the ones who are ultimately responsible for ourselves, and who therefore can also rescue ourselves?

We ARE powerful.

Sherrye