Tuesday, February 26, 2008

He Moves Me

On Monday, Mark was privileged enough to be able to attend the Barack Obama rally at the University of Cincinnati. Before I share his thoughts on the afternoon's events, let me just say that my husband continues to teach me everyday. After more than 11 years together, I am still learning new things about him, and being inspired my him. I love that we have that in our relationship. I love him.

Here are his thoughts on the afternoon...

Dear friends,

I have been, for the greater part of my life, willfully and stubbornly apolitical. Because, for most of my adult life, there has been something fundamentally wrong with my country and I didn't think it could be fixed. It wasn't the place I was taught it was supposed to be growing up. It certainly wasn't the place I knew it had the potential to become, but too few other people seemed to care (and the ones who did seemed to be the ones least capable of changing anything).

So I said to hell with it. I focused on what I called personal politics, the idea of trying to make some small difference in the lives of the people I knew, the people I came in contact with, the situations I found myself a part of. Because everything else was too big, too monolithic, too fundamentally flawed.

The old cliché holds that "scratch a cynic and you'll find a disillusioned idealist." I was 9 years old during the chaos of 1968, but I clearly remember the hope offered by Dr. King and Senator Kennedy and what it felt like to have it so cruelly and senselessly taken away. I saw the positive energy of the 60s disintegrate into the self-medicated retreat of the 70s, the greed of the 80s, the selfish disconnect of the 90s and the fear and paranoia of post-9/11 America.

Still, I could never shake the feeling that it didn't have to be this way. But I felt voiceless. No one spoke for me in the political arena. The ones who claimed to were always impostors. Politics was about our divisions, about our enemies, about our suspicions and our fears. No one was capable of uniting, of inspiring, of bringing people together.

But today I heard a politician say things I've been waiting forty years to hear. I sat in a crowd of 13,000 people; male, female, black, white, Hispanic, Christian, Muslim, atheist, straight, gay, old, middle-aged, young, veterans, union workers, people from all walks of life who agreed with me that not only is this country broken, but that together, we might actually be able to fix it.

It is not the politics of division. It is not the politics of fear. He calls it "the politics of hope", and for the first time in my adult life I am energized, I am excited. For the first time in my adult life, I actually believe that it may be possible to leave a better world for my children than the one I inherited from my parents.

But it feels like a crucial moment, one that must be seized, one that must be claimed. This country, this civilization, cannot survive on our current path. We have to cast off the blinders of selfish consumerism, the sure suicide of politics-as-usual, the us-against-them, the me-against-you.

I waited in line for over two hours in the cold today outside the venue. While waiting, I met a man a little younger than I, an army veteran who served in Kosovo and Afghanistan, a man who had never voted Democrat in his life, who told me that he felt the same, that this moment in time is critical, that there is a weight and a sense of history to this election that we ignore at our own peril. It was absolutely incredible.

Once inside, I heard these words:

"Some people think that things can't change; they want you to be cynical. But hope is not blind optimism. Hope is looking at things clear-eyed and saying that, despite the hardship, I am going to try to get things done."

I wonder how many more of me are out there. Not people waiting for a messiah figure. Not people waiting for some magic man, some slick orator to tell us what we want to hear, but disillusioned, dry, dispassionate observers who are one spark away from feeding a grass-roots brush fire. Hard-working, honest, good-hearted people who have not forgotten what this country once was or could be again, who wonder why this country seems to have forgotten about them.

Ohio friends, I urge you to investigate Barack Obama. I think when you study his platform, when you hear and read his words, you will agree that he is our country's best hope for fundamental change at this pivotal moment in history. Do not let this moment pass you by. Do not be afraid to hope. Do not be afraid to work for a better future for our country, ourselves, and our children.

Si se puede.

Yes, we can.

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