Wednesday, November 05, 2008
A New Dawn
What a historic night and new Dawn it is today in America.
I'm moved by so many images from last nights Presidential Election that it's hard to single out just one or two. I cannot remember the last time if ever that I was moved to tears to this extent in any political election in my lifetime.
The emotion that most comes to mind for what I felt and for what I saw on the faces of others is: JOY.
I will never forget the images of happiness,and tears and joy of so many faces across not just the United States but the world or the images of spontaneous celebrations in Indonesia, Kenya, France, Asia and of course here at home in Harlem, Birmingham, New York City and outside the White House itself. Horns honking and citizens hanging out the windows as if a long bloody war had ended. And perhaps it has. We have come the furthest in racial divides since at least Dr. King's speech and perhaps even since some say the Emmancipation Proclamation itself. We've shown the world we do care about our sovereignty enough for what some statistics say is the highest percentage of voter turnout in a century. Apathy went down, at least for now, for a long winters nap. Young voters who've never voted before, elder voters who'd had given up hope of finding a voice in dire times, and of course minority voters, from African American, to Native American, to Latino and everything in between.
As someone who considers myself more of a global citizen than a patriot I had goose bumps reading the palpable enthusiasm in the U.K.'s Guardian and other newspapers all over the globe.
We now have a champion for Darfur in the White House, We have a Global warming advocate to reduce if not eliminate coal power plants and create new green energy and reverse last minute, last chance environmental legislation that is devastating to our planet in peril. We have a voice for middle and lower class Americans. A man who was raised by a single mother and who received assistance to attend the finest schools in the nation. Someone who recognizes he wouldn't have become President, a Senator or even a college student without these programs. We finally have an advocate for Universal Health care, something the rest of the world has increasingly called a basic human right but something the wealthiest country in the world has yet to resolve. We have a President elect who has declared to end an unjust war that is dragging on in it's 5th year killing and injuring thousands if not hundreds of thousands of innocent Iraqi's and American soldiers year after year. And perhaps most importantly we have a champion for Hope not Fear who has promised to lead with the prinicipal of Peace not the barrel of a gun.
The enthusiasm was tempered somewhat being that I live in one of the "red states" with some-not all-but some- angry, bitter, fearful and divisive McCain supporters. It wasn't that I myself encountered these emotions--I wish it were-I fortunately encountered hugs, high fives and tears in grown men and women. It was my 10 year old son who experienced this negativity. Arising at 3am this morning to watch more of the "good news" he could hardly contain himself as he put the "I was there" Obama convention button from his favorite Uncle on his jacket and practically skipped off to school, but in the afternoon walked slowly out to the car with a sad frown at the end of the day. Asked how his day was he replied "Hell." And he's never used that word before. He said he had to endure day long cackles of sore loser classmates who kept calling Obama a "baby killer." This was not singled out by his class as I also heard it happened in my nieces KINDERGARTEN class, and another friends 2nd grade class and in my daughters middle school as well. My son did not bother to run off the litany of reasons he admires Obama, some but not all of it coming no doubt from his parents discussions and admiration of Obama's work for the poor as a Community organizer, his proclamation to reduce our dependency on foreign oil completely in 10 years and begin to heal our planet, his admission that we need to offer more muscle to end the Genocide in Darfur and so forth. What is the point with arguing that with someone that a single man is literally or figuritively "a baby killer?" We encourage him to stay out of such arguments and only to compliment the good in McCain even though many cannot do the same. And I'm filled with deep pride with how he has handled this ugliness with civility and maturity time and time again but especially today. The Pro Life movement must begin to see the growing lack not just of maturity but spirituality and Christianity in the movement of the cause. Perhaps when they see the number of unwanted pregnancies dwindling they will, or when the number of abortions drop further then they did under the Republican Majority Pro Life President they will stop leaving it at the foot of one man. It is my deep and sincere hope that these children and their parents in my community as well as McCain-Palin supporters nationwide can leave the fearful, angry train behind to hop on the Hope & Joy train. One young girl told my son that she was "Fearful." How sad! But,why am I not surprised that this residue of fear still remains in but a few hearts? How unfortunate for them to be missing this reknewed Spirit of Light and Change afoot here, Now, Today, in our midst. Time will bring them on board and meanwhile we cannot let their troubles tamper our Joy and emotion in this historic moment that will forever be etched in our hearts of when we turned the tide to a New Dawn. Our racial divisions certainly won't be healed overnight, our economic divide from the have's and the have not's is perhaps greater than ever before, but we have stood up as One with a clarion call for change to leave the Fear behind. I leave you with some of my favorite words of President Elect Obama's speech and the images of this historic night.
Image 1-3: More than half a million people gather in Chicago's Grant Park to hear President Elect Barack Obama, first look at our new First Family
Image4: Atlanta, Georgia: Christine King Farris, sister of civil-rights leader Martin Luther King Jr
Image4:Kogelo village, Kenya: Kenyan family members of president-elect Barack Obama celebrate after his victory in the US election was announced. The village is where Obama's step-grandmother lives
So let us summon a new spirit of patriotism; of service and responsibility where each of us resolves to pitch in and work harder and look after not only ourselves, but each other.
In this country, we rise or fall as one nation; as one people
As Lincoln said to a nation far more divided than ours, We are not enemies, but friends...though passion may have strained it must not break our bonds of affection.
Its been a long time coming, but tonight, because of what we did on this day, in this election, at this defining moment, change has come to America.
And to all those who have wondered if Americas beacon still burns as bright - tonight we proved once more that the true strength of our nation comes NOT FROM THE MIGHT OF OUR ARMS OR THE SCALE OF OUR WEALTH, but from the enduring power of our ideals: democracy, liberty, opportunity, and unyielding hope.
This is our chance to answer that call. This is our moment. This is our time - to put our people back to work and open doors of opportunity for our kids; to restore prosperity and promote the cause of peace; to reclaim the American Dream and reaffirm that fundamental truth - that out of many, we are ONE; that while we breathe, we hope, and where we are met with cynicism, and doubt, and those who tell us that we cant, we will respond with that timeless creed that sums up the spirit of a people:
Yes We Can