a boots-on-the-ground view of the change that's a-foot

No Easy Way Down – but we can enjoy the ride

by Tao Oliveto, Carrboro, NC

I had a dream several years ago which I have never forgotten. It came during one of those times that comes around to all of us – when life seems full of questions and doubts. The dream went like this:

I was riding up a chair lift at a ski resort. I meant to get on a lift to a beginner slope but as I continued to ascend, the mountains got bigger and bigger. I saw a sign with the dreaded symbol of double black diamonds (the universal symbol for difficult slopes. Below the symbol were the words, “For Experts Only. No easy way down.”

Barack Obama, standing in for Senator, Edward M. Kennedy, delivered the commencement speech at Wesleyan University in Connecticut last Sunday. He echoed a theme Kennedy planned to focus on, a call to students to change the country and the world through service.

He also told them to not take the ‘easy way out’. “I hope you’ll remember,” he said, “during those times of doubt and frustration, that there is nothing naive about your impulse to change the world.”

“It’s because you have an obligation to yourself, because our individual salvation depends on our collective slavation. Because it’s only when you hitch your wagon to something larger than yourself that you realized your true potential and discover the role you’ll play in writing the next great chapter in America’s story.” (For more on this story, visit this link at

There IS no easy way down or out. But there is a challenging and fullfilling prophecy we can choose to shape our future. And, as I recall it, I awoke from that dream not filled with fear, but of excitement and determination.

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