I Believe

There are lyrics from many REM songs that cycle through my brain daily (“Can’t buy my harborcoat/Can’t go outside without it” for some reason is always rattling around in there), but the lyrics for “I Believe” are almost always playing (and have been since high school):

“When I was young and full of grace/And spirited…a rattlesnake”

“I believe in coyotes and time as an abstract”

“Trust in your calling, make sure your calling’s true / think of others, the others think of you”

“Perfect is a fault, and fault lines change.”

“I believe my humor’s wearing thin/And I believe the poles are shifting.”

But, the one that I hear most often, and the one I heard loudest and clearest in my head last night was:

And change is what I believe in

I lectured this morning to about 100 freshman business students. I asked who was happy that Obama won, who was sad, and who didn’t care. Even in this red state where I teach and live for half the year, the vast majority were happy.

I try not to preach when I teach, but I had to fight back tears when I said (the teachings of Elie Wiesel, who I was lucky enough to study with for a year, rattling around in my brain):

“I don’t care who you voted for, but America has had a sickness since its inception. Racism has been our curse; it’s what keeps us from being truly great. It’s been a global embarrassment that we haven’t had an African American President, and it’s an embarrassment that we haven’t had a female President. But yesterday, those of you who voted, took a giant step towards curing our national sickness. You should be proud and honored. And, I believe.”

Ethan Kaplan has a great blog called Blackrimglasses, and he posted the following video of R.E.M. announcing Obama’s victory. I couldn’t be more delighted that Bertis Downs, who I’m honored to call a friend, and who I respect more than just about anyone in the music industry (or any industry) was able to say the words.

I believe.


  1. Matt Bodie’s avatar

    So many things have happened since Obama's speech last night that have brought me to the brink of tears. I haven't had so many of these moments in my life, and most of it has been watching and reading other people's reactions to this historic event. I'm to the brink again just writing this while I listen to the Wilco/Fleet Foxes “I Shall Be Released.” This is truly the proudest that I have ever been in my country.


  2. George Howard’s avatar

    Right there with you, Matt. Now, as Jed Bartlett would say, “The break is over. Let's get to work.”


  3. tanya Braganti’s avatar

    Tremendous. Thank you!!!


  4. dave’s avatar

    Do not deceive yourself. If one casts their vote based on skin color and not policy or character for example, then one is still racist.

    “But yesterday, those of you who voted, took a giant step towards curing our national sickness. You should be proud and honored. And, I believe.”

    We should be proud and honored because we voted based on race (a black man)? That is a logical fallacy and is still racist.


  5. George Howard’s avatar

    Dear Dave,

    Thank you very much for taking the time to post. It's this type of dialog that actually gives me hope. I suppose I could have been more clear.

    I did not vote for President-Elect Obama because of his skin color. Rather, as you say, I voted for him because of policy and character; not least of which the character he exhibited running his campaign (in particular, in contrast to how Mr. McCain and Ms. Palin ran their campaign) and, again, not least of which, the President-Elect's policy on tech (http://bit.ly/1PSk9Y).

    The fact that the person whose policy and character won my vote also happens to be African American — which, I believe, represents a significant moment of healing for our country — is, as they say here in La, lagniappe.

    Thanks again for your comment.



  6. dave’s avatar

    At least you know what policies you voted for and why. I voted against him because of his Socialist ideas and I have a difficult time understanding that most people who did vote for him did so because of his Socialist ideas. Rather I believe it was a vote against Bush and that most people do not believe or understand that his ideas are Socialist. Futhermore, If race doesn't matter, then why is it such a big deal that we have a black president?



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