This is what Change Looks Like

I woke up on Friday and started making breakfast. Although I rarely watch TV, I was away from my apartment and out of my normal routine, so I decided to put the news on and see what was happening in the world. I catch a glimpse of what looks like the ocean from a tropical place, and quickly go back to cooking my eggs. Then I hear an all too familiar voice speaking about Cuba. It was Secretary of State John Kerry, and he was in Cuba reopening the US embassy.

I went back to cooking my eggs and just smiled. I knew that this day would be coming after President Obama announced the détente with Cuba late last year. Reopening our embassy in Cuba is just a small step, and is part of a long term process that will eventually lead to fully normalized relations between the US and Cuba. While I agree with this policy change, that’s not why I was smiling. I was smiling because it was exactly moments like this - small moments that bring about positive change in the world - that are seemingly commonplace these days. In the last few months alone we’ve seen marriage equalty become the law of the land, confederate flags being taken down all across the country, and access to basic healthcare upheld.

Today’s embassy reopening, along with so many other moments, is exactly what America was hoping for when it elected Barack Obama in 2008. It saddens me though, when I see so much disillusionment with our political system from people who feel that President Obama hasn’t lived up to the hope of Candidate Obama. It’s like they expected one election to instantly transform America overnight, and then checked out when the going got tough. The fact is that change is hard. Change can take time. In order to realize change you need to understand and accept that progress isn’t a steady stream of victories. Change is messy and it’s pace is uneven. I would have loved for this day to come 7 years ago at the start of President Obama’s term, or frankly at any time in the past 54 years. But change finally came today, and now we can move forward with Cuba and put our silly travel restrictions on the ashbin of history.

Seeing Secretary Kerry fly the US flag over our Embassy in Cuba after over half a century of foolish isolation is extremely satisfying. Today’s events are proof that change, seemingly unthinkable change, can be made, and that President Obama is delivering the change we all hoped for. In order to see more days like this, people should soak in these small moments of change, and reaffirm their commitment to get involved and vote and make their voices heard - there is too much work left to do for people to just check out and give up.