(I first want to apologize for posting about this topic yet again, after so much has already been said. But I have to get this off my chest.)
It takes awhile, they say, for the result of a debate to settle in. A bit of time for the words and images to weave their way into our souls and deposit there a lasting image – the impression we then take away for all time. I guess that is why the pundits get it so terribly wrong so very often. They’ve allowed no time for the settling. And anyway, they see what they want to see, what they’re told to see; and from there, try to influence and mold what we see.
I’ve been mostly sad today. I left the TV off. And I didn’t know why until I watched a re-run of “To Kill a Mockingbird” and was dumbstruck by this line, this scene:
“ Miss Jean Louise, stand up, your father’s passin’.”
The people relegated to the balcony stood in unison as Atticus Finch passed. A silent gesture of respect, of honor, to a man who struggled to do what was right, no matter what the personal cost. A man who fought for principles greater and far beyond himself.
And I cried, realizing then that I was thinking about Barack Obama and how hard it must have been for him to stand on that stage and talk to a man who refused to even acknowledge his presence. Who refused, out of a meanness of spirit unfathomable to me, to look him in the eyes, man-to-man; human being to human being, Senator to Senator. I realized then why the picture of him hugging Michelle afterward touched me so. She alone would understand how that hurt him. A hurt he would likely never voice to anyone but her. Yet he stood there, for 90 minutes, without acknowledgement from his opponent. Stood there brave and calm and unflinching, fighting for us and for the principles he believes in.
I turned, as I so often do, to “Dreams from my Father”, to Barack Obama’s own words to try to find some meaning, some salvation; perhaps to assuage my own guilt over the affront I felt was afforded to Barack Obama. And I found, in pages 156-158, words he wrote about people on the South Side – how they felt about accomplishment and the obstacles they had to overcome to be accepted; and how often they were not accepted.
“So, despite the deserved sense of accomplishment these men and women felt, despite the irrefutable evidence of their own progress, our conversations were marked by another, more ominous strain. The boarded-up homes, the decaying storefronts, the aging church rolls, kids from unknown families who swaggered down the streets – loud congregations of teenaged boys, teenage girls feeding potato chips to crying toddlers, the discarded wrappers tumbling down the block – all of it whispered painful truths, told them the progress they’d found was ephemeral, rooted in thin soil; that it might not even last their lifetimes”. (snip)
“As it had for the men in Smitty’s barbershop, the election had given these people a new idea of themselves. Or maybe it was an old idea, born of a simpler time. Harold was something they still held in common: Like my idea of organizing, he held out an offer of collective redemption.”
Even after this, when the man who refused eye contact stumbled painfully upon a name, this remarkable American said to him with a soul full of humility and compassion, "That's ok John, that's a hard one."
That is the mark of greatness. The man who stood there without being acknowledged, unflinching and without a spark of bitterness in his heart, is the next President of the United States.
It’s about Respect. It’s about Hope and the Future of a nation. It’s about the struggle for Human Dignity throughout the ages.
It is, most of all, about Equality.
“Miss Jean Louise, stand up, your father’s passin’.”
Important Notices: By registering on this website,
visitors agree to abide by the rules outlined on our Rules
page. Messages posted on the Democratic Underground Discussion Forums and
Journals are the opinions of the individuals who post them, and do not necessarily
represent the opinions of Democratic Underground, LLC.