11.05.2008

The promise of tomorrow

Restored vision – first my own and now my country’s. I don’t know how many miracles I can take in one month.

3 a.m. and Newsweek’s Jonathan Alter is describing his evening at Chicago’s Grant Park to MSNBC’s Chris Jansing while I am trying to collect my thoughts, to focus on where I want to go with this.

There is so much to express.

I am thinking of an onion or those little Russian babushka nesting dolls. Eight years of a Bush presidency, and one would have to peel away layer upon layer or reveal one inside the other to fully reveal the scandals, the hypocrisy, the incompetence which have held us in their grip for so long. I do not want to go there tonight.

We have just been spared a packing of the Supreme Court of the United States which would have led our nation along a narrow path for decades to come after abolishing so much attained by generations past.

Thoughts enter my mind of Sarah Palin whipping crowds into frenetic nationalism with silly slurs against the opposition. I tell myself these people are Americans who love their country and, after all, only want for it what I do. I pray we can pull together.

I picture Atlas with the world upon his shoulders and hope our new president has the strength to hold up under such a burden and the wisdom to know where to start the healing.

Tonight when Barack Obama was declared the victor in this interminable presidential bid – at 11 p.m. ET – I stepped quietly onto my front porch and heard the cheering and the clapping and the crying of my African-American neighbors next door and up and down the way. Their collective passion swelled within me, and for one brief moment I could almost feel what they were feeling.

Maybe a year and a half ago I asked an African-American friend here if he knew the name Barack Obama. “He’s a black man,” I explained, “and he’s probably going to be your next president.” I had to call that friend tonight, and all I could think to say is, “Congratulations, Charlie, it’s been a long, hard fight.”

I don’t even know if I was talking about his generations past or the political activism which brought us to this moment, or both. I just knew I had to call him.

A few emails rolled in. Friends who just had to say something about this win. That they would reach out at such a significant moment touched me and seemed to validate in some small way my finite part of a bigger struggle. These thoughts subside.

As I sit here in the middle of the night, I am touched by images of the young, single mother in Apt. A, tucking her little girl into bed and the grandmother in Apt. C helping her two little granddaughters say their nighttime prayers. I try to feel what they must have felt and hear what they must have said on this night to these sweet little girls.

Having grown up a little white girl in the South, having tucked my own children into bed, having kissed them and wished them “sweet dreams,” I could not know the depth of what mother conveyed to child this night as one of their own prepared to lead a country where once the only certainty was ship’s chains and auction blocks.

One thought lingers as the night ebbs: the promise of tomorrow.

8 comments:

Frodo Obama said...

At 11 o'clock, Frodo's phone rang. Fearing that it might be bad news about the health of Bilbo, he rushed to grab the receiver. "Yes we can," said Sam from the hospital bed.
Sam had refused to even turn on the TV during the hospital stay, but anxiety had won out at the last moment.
Sam returns to the Shire on this day, healthy, and filled with the hope that a "bright and sunshiney day" can bring.
It was said best this AM by one who averred: "The War is over. By that I mean all of the wars we have been fighting; against each other, against times past, against all our demons. Collectively, we have agreed to put those differences behind us, and to work together, for peace."
Also Sprach Frodo.

Tiny said...

We the people have been spared much for sure. However, we must not forget the heavy load our new president and his family are taking on. We each must do our part to help him steer our ship of state into uncharted waters as dreams and visions are born anew.

I, too, hope all the ills of our society were healed as we shed tears of thanks and shouts of rejoicing that a long hard-fought battle was abundantly won last night.

It is my hope that the Obama-Biden victory ended the revenge, negative cmpaigning for future candidates. Our new officials set a new standard for future elections. We give thanks that people voted out the slash and burn candidates.

I'm also thankful that Obama kept reminding everyone that we are one people and one USA. And last night an overwhelming mass of people showed the world how many of us truly believe this. We are a world-wide family of the Highest Power in the Universe.

The celebrations in foreign countries showed us their joy and support with their celebrations. Not only has healing been brought to our nation, but to the entire world. For all of this we give thanks.

Each person can dream anew and participate in creating a new America for all people for we truly are one people and one USA.

Athena said...

BJ,

Your post brought a fresh wave of tears....tears last night. Funny, but seeing Jesse Jackson cry at Grant Park while waiting for Obama to come speak was the most touching sight of all for me. He's seen it all firsthand.

I am so happy you are so moved by this great result....I wasn't sure you got on board with Obama because you were a big fan of Hillary. But, of course, you would see and feel the poignancy of it all!!

I can never doubt a higher power now......

Do you remember that Shirley Temple movie where she is an orphan and has to sleep in the attic? But, one night a genie comes and leaves wonderful things by her bed for her to find when she wakes up, beautiful clothes, slippers and treats? Her surprise and joy is what I feel about Obama, a miracle. America is blessed!

A.

B.J. said...

Frodo: I don’t think there is a hobbit in all of Middle Earth as happy as you and Sam are today. A speedy recovery, Sam!

Tiny: Thanks for reminding all of us that we have work to do, too, and must not “rest on our laurels.”

Athena: Yes, I believe in Hillary Rodham Clinton’s capabilities and believe she would have been a president for the ages. I would be remiss if I failed to state my resentment of the attacks on her and unkind things said about her by her fellow Democrats. But, I was not “on board” for her: I was “on board” for America! And both she and Bill Clinton proved their unlimited graciousness by getting “on board” for Obama and their country. You and Frodo and Tiny and I go back a long way – back to those early days attempting to understand and inform others where Bush was leading this country. In retrospect, it’s all so very clear now, but it was so hard back then to do anything about it. Remember?

To all who read and comment here: remember the title of the post and “The promise of tomorrow.”

BJ

Anonymous said...

I can breathe better today and I have a new hope for our country and our foreign relations. Love you, Phil

Bill Sumrall said...

I learned Barack Obama had become president during online posting for the newspaper just after 11 p.m.
The "moment in history" actually caught up with me later as I stayed up until 3:45 a.m., watching the celebrations outside the White House on TV and got to watch some of President-elect Obama's acceptance speech and reactions shown by TV reporters and remarks by on-air commentators (mainly for NBC and ABC).
I was glad I'd shared in the celebration of this "moment in history."

Faye said...

Thanks, BJ! I feel bad not getting back to you before now. I've had just too much to do. I did, however, watch every minute of the election returns. Nothing could keep me from that! I was surprised at myself for the deep emotional response I had to Obama's win. It was such an uplifting experience! I cried for two days and find myself still tearing up even now. As much as I loved Hillary, I now believe that Obama is the perfect one for this moment in time. Never thought I could say that!! Also didn't realize how nervous I had been for so long. Guess it's all just coming out now. Anyway, I look forward, for the first time in a long, long while, to these next months. Love you. Faye

Bob Andelman said...

You might also enjoy this Mr. Media radio interview with Jonathan Alter from May 19, 2010. He talks about his book, “The Promise,” President Obama, David Axelrod, Rahm Emanuel, FDR, “The Colbert Report,” his wife and even does an imitation of Joe Biden imitating Arkansas Senator John McClellan. Classic stuff!