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我和奥巴马在夏威夷偶遇

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那是2006年年底,新年即将到来之前的三天,在瓦胡岛的北岸,我与旅行作家Paul Theroux正在吃汉堡。我们旁边的不牢固的小屋里是一个典型的夏威夷(度假)家庭:中国裔美国人,非洲裔美国人,半东南亚血统的人和有以上血统的孩子,正等他们的父亲从柜台给他们购买鳄梨汉堡包。保罗和我花了几秒钟后才认出那个貌似瘦削的青年一样的爸爸实际上是在未来两个星期内有望进入总统大选的来自伊利诺伊州的新生代参议员。

我们忍不住地在他的私人时刻向他问好,我们原以为在这个时刻被打扰,奥巴马他也许会摆脱象我们这样的人,不可能会友好的参与谈话。我们原以为我们不得不谈论和他谈论一整天象汉堡包,地点和书籍这样的话题。但是,正如你所想的那样,一个政治家生命线是取决于赢得民心。更了不起的事情是,我们都认为,这充满活力的陌生人就象我们在巴黎,香港,中东遇见的人那样很难认出,和世界各地的人混淆。象他家乡岛屿的空气一样,(不是真正东方或西方,而是一个充满活力的两个结合物),他谈到今后全球将会是一个大熔炉。

现在,这已经成为世人所周知的熟悉的事,熟悉到我们几乎不想听,只要谁走出美国,在任何方向,很快明白,美国的世纪已经成为全球的世纪,在一代人的时间之前,全球其他地方试图像美国,现在美国需要和全球其他地方步调一致。像奥巴马这样的人,表明这是可能的。21st世纪以来的经历表明美国拒绝登上的快速列车。

我今年已经去过很多地方-从耶路撒冷到日本,哥伦比亚,意大利然后回来了。-我所听到的人基本上是说,美国是一个不只是与世界脱节,而且没有迹象要与世界亲近的胖胖的大富豪。这是一个不公正的情景-每时每刻与许多善良的好奇的美国人相矛盾-世界上,人们用图象来沟通仍然是有效的,用图象而不是猜想和假设,它的传播速度比事实真相快得多。纠正它的最好的方法是向世界表明,在夏威夷,一个领导人不说他是非洲人,或亚洲人或美国人或者是他们的混血儿,这一点就是:欧巴马不只是将全球化带给美国,用他的名字,他的脸和他的经历,他将会把美国带回到全球。

事实上,你也许会说他根据他的经验提出的这个问题和其他他可能会提出的回答一样重要。对他来说,如何能使黑人和白人和平共处(或在我们的城市和我们的国家)?怎样保证我们非裔亲属不以生养我们的祖父母来自Kansas为不光彩的事呢?如何把小穆斯林学校和哈佛大学法学院一样发展?

奥巴马一直思考这些问题,就是主导当今世界的问题。越来越多的经济危机使得建设一个更广领域的共同性变的更迫切,而不是更少。

正好是我在阿拉斯加的一周里,莎拉.佩林被介绍给世界,在我周围,我看到我生长的美国变的有充分的开放的可能,拥有巨大的石油储量和来自世界各地的移民, 景色优美-只有被迫自给自足的的人们保守精神的“最后前沿。 ”

它看上去很像我孩提时美国,就象夏威夷和联合汉堡看上去像美国的明天。我们住在北岸棚屋里的下一代的孩子们似乎更关心他们来自何处而不是他们那里的领导是谁。奥巴马肯定会不满足他的支持者的一些期望;任何人都会这样,特别是年龄24 / 7这一年龄段的。但是,过去和未来,他所讲的,恰恰是那些属于新世纪和95 %的人:我们的在全球化餐桌就座的邻居。它的意义远远超过你在阿拉斯加碰运气-但我宁愿寻找未来的夏威夷。

译文:My Chance Encounter With Obama in Hawaii

It was three days before the new year in late 2006, and I was eating a burger with the traveler and writer Paul Theroux on Oahu's North Shore. Beside us in the rickety little shack was a quintessentially Hawaiian group of Chinese Americans, African Americans,semi-Southeast Asians and kids who could have been any or all of theabove, waiting for the dad in the group to bring over their avocadoburgers from the counter. It took Paul and me a few seconds to realizethat the dad in question - who looked like a skinny teenager - was, infact, the freshman Senator from Illinois, who was expected to enter the presidential race in the next week or two.
We couldn't help breaking in on his private moment to say hello, and intruded upon in a place he'd probably come to get away from peoplelike us, could not have been more friendly and engaged; we felt wecould have talked burgers - and places and books - with him all day.But you expect that of a politician, whose livelihood depends onwinning hearts. The more remarkable thing, we both felt, was that thissparkling stranger was so much like the kind of people we meet inParis, in Hong Kong, in the Middle East:difficult to place and connected to everywhere. Like the air of hishome island (not really Eastern or Western, but a vibrant mingling ofthe two), he spoke for the dawning global melting pot of today.

It has become part of the familiar story now, repeated so often wecan barely hear it, but anyone who steps out of the U.S. today, in anydirection, quickly sees that the American Centuryhas become the Global Century and that where a generation ago much ofthe globe was trying to look like America, now it's America that needsto get in tune with the rest of the globe. The very presence of someonelike Obama shows this is possible. But the story of the 21st century so far has been of a fast-moving train that the U.S. (like its enemies) declines to board.

Everywhere I've been this year - from Jerusalem to Japan to Colombia to Italyand back again - I've heard people essentially say that America is anoverweight, white plutocrat who is not only out of touch with the worldbut also shows no signs of wanting to grow closer to it. This is asunfair as any image - contradicted at every moment by the kindness andcuriosity of many Americans - but it remains a potent one in a worldwhere people communicate more with images than ideas and assumptionstravel faster than truths. The best way to begin to correct it is toshow the world a leader who can't really say how much he's African orAsian or American or just a product of their mixing in Hawaii.The point is not just that Obama will bring globalism to America; inhis name, his face and his issues, he'll bring America back to theglobe.

You could, in fact, say it isthe questions that he draws from his experience that are as importantas any answers he may come up with. How to make a peace between theblack and the white inside him (or inside our cities and our country)?How to do right by our relatives in Africa without dishonoring thegrandparents from Kansas who raised us? How to bring the modest Muslim school in Java together with Harvard Law School?The questions Obama has been thinking about all his life are the veryones that dominate the world today. And the mounting economic crisisonly makes the construction of a wider identity - and conversing acrossthe waters - more urgent, not less so. I happened to be in Alaska the week Sarah Palinwas introduced to the world, and around me I saw the America I hadgrown up on: full of open space and possibility, blessed with great oilreserves and immigrants from everywhere, scenically gorgeous - but tiedto the go-it-alone spirit of a "last frontier." It looked as much likethe America of my boyhood as Hawaii and the burger joint looked likethe America of tomorrow. The kids next to us in the North Shore shack seemed much less concerned with where they came from than with where they were headed.

Barack Obamathe man is sure to disappoint some of the expectations his fans have;any man would, especially in the age of the 24/7 news cycle. But thepast and the future that he speaks for are precisely the ones thatbelong so uniquely to the new century and the 95% of humans who are ourneighbors at the global burger table. It's more than possible to makeyour fortune in Alaska - but I'd much rather find the future in Hawaii.


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