Tuesday, November 4, 2008

History

I'm a little giddy tonight, but a little tearful as well.  No matter what a person's bent, it is an historic night. A hundred and fifty years ago we owned slaves in this country.  Half a century ago, African-Americans couldn't vote. I've sometimes wondered about racism, you know.  Growing up in a small college town when I did, there were very few (maybe two) minorities in our high school.  It never occured to me that everyone wasn't exactly the same--after all, we have the same internal organs--the same brain, the same heart, the same soul.

Years later, when I was in India, I experienced firsthand racial bias.  I was a western woman among a very large eastern population. And though there were signs everywhere--on buses, buildings, etc--about not 'teasing' women (that is, not belittling, groping or messing with), I was exempt from that by virtue of my skin color.  I was teased, groped, bumped against in very suggestive and ugly ways.  My skin told these men that I was fair game.  It was shocking to me.  And made me think of what other races have experienced at the hands of people who share my skin tone.  It's abhorrent that it should be so, but it's true.

But I've never actually been a minority. Not here at home. Well, maybe as a woman...but the truth is, if we divide the pie into the various pieces that separate us, the only non-minority people in this country are white men.  Right? But the reality is that they are not the largest group in this nation.  In reality, they too are a minority.

So I admit that sometimes I've thought, "Again with the race card? Can't we just get beyond this?"  Can't we just rejoice in the variety of God's human creation?  Not all flowers are the same color, nor all trees but we glory in those differences.  We see the many splendored colors of the non-human living creatures we share this planet with, and are awed by the breadth of God's work, the depth of diversity.  But among the talking Image-of God folks, we feel suspicious of those differences.

But tonight, after long election lines, and a interminably long campaign, I watched people cry at the news that a man of color will be the next president. It's that kind of historic night where you remember where you were when you heard the news.  That's how I felt, anyway.  Yes, I've been a supporter of the man.  Yes, I began to believe he could be our next president from the first time I heard him speak.  At least I wanted him to be.  But tonight, it isn't about what I believed, what I wanted.  Tonight it's only to acknowledge that this moment came, and what it must mean to people who continue to feel disenfranchised in our country.  I wish they didn't feel disenfranchised, want to pretend it isn't so, but it is.  So tonight, I rejoice with them that this day finally came.  That they can tell their children that anything's possible, even the highest office in the land.  They can tell their children and grandchildren they were alive to see this day come.  We all can.  What's good for minorities must be good for all of us tonight.

And I'm glad about it.  I want to rejoice with those who rejoice.  And to weep with those who weep tonight.  McCain's concession speech was very gracious.  Beautiful, actually.  E and I, listening to him, thought that if he'd spoken with that tone and graciousness through out this fall, rather than with anger and hostility, it might have been a different story tonight.  Shoot, if he had shown the brilliant humor I heard from him at a fundraiser a couple of weeks ago, and in his Saturday night Live stint last weekend, I know the race would have been closer. 

But now it's over, and Barack Obama is the President-elect.  There will be children in the White House again.  Children and a brand new puppy, apparently.  I like the idea of children there, of a family.  I like the idea that this family seems so healthy and in love--yes, the whole family.  Loving each other, loving their children.

So I'm glad tonight, glad that our country went to the voting booths, and did our jobs. Our one job as citizen. It's what we do.  And it's good.

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