The realization of hope - Joel Hall

On Tuesday night, when it was announced that Barack Obama would become the 44th president of the United States, the night wasn't as "eventful" as some people had led me to believe it would be.

A chorus of angels did not appear in the sky, the archangel Gabriel did not sound his glorious trumpet, nor did the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse wreak havoc on America.

Aside from all the electricity cutting off in our building a few minutes after the announcement, the election of Obama lacked the supernatural phenomena I had been promised by some.

Something did happen, however. I felt a lot better.

The day after the election, despite suffering from a cold, a possible kidney stone, and running on four hours of sleep, I woke up bright and refreshed. At work, my steps were lighter and, with ease, I was able to complete twice as many stories as my usual requirement.

It felt like this amazing chip on my shoulder, which I had carried around with me my entire life, had finally been removed. The nagging thought that no matter how educated, how wealthy, or how influential I became, my options would always be limited by my skin color, seemed to slowly fade away from my consciousness.

It is hard for me to describe everything I felt. I didn't cry, but I felt a little more confident. I didn't shout for joy, but I could finally put my unique set of problems and challenges into perspective.

Obama's presidency, however, has put something else into perspective for me, perhaps something even more important. I realized on Wednesday that the world doesn't hate America, and never has.

On Wednesday, I saw pictures of schoolchildren in Indonesia proudly holding up Obama's picture, crowds of people hugging and celebrating in Denmark, and Iranians wearing Obama campaign buttons. I saw Kenyans joyfully marching in the streets, the leaders of hostile nations extending olive branches to America, and people all over the world sending us praise for making the once impossible, possible.

I witnessed that the people of other nations, like emotionally-invested family members, wanted America to reach this civil rights victory as much as many of us did. While at times the world has been angry with us, I saw for the first time in many years how America continues to shine as a beacon of hope for people around the world.

From childhood to adulthood, I have always been taught that America is the greatest, most free, most fair country in the world. At times, I have been guilty of forgetting that, but seeing the world continue to believe in the dream of America this week helped me continue to believe as well.

I don't believe Obama is the Messiah, and I don't think his election will solve all the problems of America. There will still be gang violence, there will still be racism, and some people will still sag their pants in the absence of self-esteem.

However, America and the rest of the world now have a real example that America is still the place where dreams can become a reality. What Obama will accomplish in office is yet to be seen, but what he achieved Tuesday night has changed the world already.

Joel Hall covers government and politics for the Clayton News Daily. He can be reached at jhall@news-daily.com.