I've been pretty sick the past couple of days. Caught a stomach bug and have a terrific headache but this morning, despite the pain in my body, my heart is light. My four year old son found me crying as I watched Obama's victory speech on YouTube. With his sweet little voice he asked, "Did Barack Obama win?" I answered him "Yes, what do you think?" "Good!" was his response.
It is indeed good. I wrote a letter this morning to my dear friend, Karl, expressing my feelings of last night and this morning. I do not think he will mind if I share it here. With some minor editing for the sake of privacy, my letter follows:
I told my children this morning that Obama won the election. My daughter squealed, "He did?! He did?!" and she jumped up and ran around in celebration. My eleven year old son said, "I am so proud of that guy!"
Last night I lay on the couch as the results came in, occasionally dozing as the pundits droned on. But I was awake when they called the election and I watched the crowds, thousands of people, screaming, and weeping with joy and relief. I saw Jesse Jackson standing there silently with tears streaming down his face. I cried too. But it wasn't until I went into the bathroom to get some tissue to blow my nose that it hit me hard. I looked in the mirror and saw my face, tear-streaked and pale, my hair all awry and thought, very selfishly, how hard these past eight years have been on me and my family. How we lost so much. How our access to health care was eroded and how our kids suffered for that. I thought of how we had to scrape by on beans and rice at several low points. How we accumulated outrageous debt just to pay for our medical bills, groceries and educations but couldn't find decent jobs to pay those bills. I thought of how we lost our home. Most devastatingly, we lost our hope. The nightmare years of my depression coincided with the nightmare years of Bush's administration. I was furious at the hopelessness of the world my children were inheriting and I felt my impotence keenly. It was all just so insane.
So when I looked in the mirror and saw an older face, a more tired and lined face there, I was thinking that maybe now it is over. Maybe now it is finally over and I can dare to hope again. And I kept thinking, I have my country back. I have my country back!
I think the spectacular and momentous reality that we have just elected a black man as president of the United States must be coupled with the reality that most of the people who voted for him were white. We voted for him not to prove a point that the nation was no longer a nation of racists. We didn't vote for him to show how far we've come since Dr. King spoke of reaching the mountaintop. We voted for him because we are weary of the politics of fear. Because all of us have suffered and we are tired of suffering. I know that Obama is a moderate and that I will likely be disappointed many times with his policies and politics. But that's OK. I just hope all the Democrats elected remember their liberal base and give us a way to live out our passion and calling. Let us finally use our gifts without being ridiculed, belittled, and dismissed. Let us serve in a way denied to us for so long. It has been too long.
So now the hard work begins in earnest.
From the blue state of New York to the blue state of Florida, I send you love.