The Audacity of Hope

By Emmanuel Narokobi

While I was away in Wewak I took the time on the planes and at the airports to read Barrack Obama‘s book ‘The Audacity of Hope‘. Since the downgrading of the Wewak airport, trips to Wewak now involve changing planes in Madang from an F100 to a Dash 8. Which makes for a long day of traveling when you add up all the hours. But its always good to bring along a good book. (But good news though, Dekenai Constructions are busy at work extending the Wewak airport so we should be getting direct flights to Wewak in the not so distant future).

The title ‘The Audacity of Hope’ comes from a phrase that Obama’s former pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr.  once used in a sermon. Obama uses the term to describe what he terms as the ‘best of the American spirit. That is, …’having the audacity to belive despite all the evidence to the contrary that we could restore a sense of community to a nation torn by conflict; the gall to belive that despite personal setbacks, the loss of a job or an illness in the fanily or a childhood mired in poverty, we had some control – and therefore responsibility – over our own fate’. The book is written in a conversation type style which the_audacity_of_hopemakes it quite easy to read and each chapter of the book is neatly separated into the various areas of his beliefs and policy leanings. The chapters are:

  1. Prologue
  2. Republicans and Democrats
  3. Values
  4. Our Constitution
  5. Politics
  6. Opportunity
  7. Faith
  8. Race
  9. The World Beyond our Borders
  10. Family
  11. Epilogue

Whether by design or by coincidence the book would have greatly assisted in his Presidential campaign in clearly outlining who he was and what he stood for. Besides this book, no one can deny the additional influence of the other prong of his media strategy which was his website My.BarrackObama.com.

He is obvioulsy a liberal and very much a centrist in his politics and for the first time through an effective use of media I can get an almost 360 view of who this new leader of the free world is. Obama is also quite thoughtful in this book analysing not only the subjects he is discussing but also himself and where he stands and why. He even goes as far as discussing where he was wrong and could’ve done better in his decisions.

It makes me wonder allot about the politicians we choose here in PNG. Obama has tried to move beyond party politics to look at the issues and to suggest solutions for all Americans, be they red or blue. In reflection we could say that since in PNG we do not have a strong political party base and ideologies then it would serve our politicians well to be able to explain through the media as well what they are about as individuals. Are they for more jobs in formal business or more growth in rural agriculture? Are they for more investment in infrastructure or are they for more investment in schools, education and training? Are they guided by strong religious beliefs or just liberal views of humanity?

I hear allot about the Medium Term Development Strategy 2005-2010 (MTDS) and its role as our road map to economic development and I do appreciate the fact that some politicians do take the time to refer back to it in terms of the activities that they are doing. To be fair also we have a very different set of issues to deal with and it seems to be more about improving management first before we can even get to the development issues. All these programmes on capacity building and corruption reduction and transparency and the like, all point to a need for more personal development rather than structural development.  Its no surprise then that we had to have a very public fight when it came down to choosing the options for funding our PNG LNG investment?

So who are our leaders and what are they really about? But I think more importanly what do we want from ourselves so that maybe we too can have the Audacity to Hope for a better PNG?

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