It happened. Obama was elected president last night. How could I possibly express how extraordinarily proud of my country I am right now. It is a new chapter in our history and a moment I will never forget.
But I gotta tell ya. I am completely overwhelmed and utterly exhausted by it all. Its as if my emotional mainframe has been entirely blown out. There is so much to process about what this all means for us. In fact, as soon as I start thinking about all of it, I get choked up and totally distracted. So I stop myself and stay on task. Life must go on here – off to drop of T. at school, off to wal-mart for a new trash can, off to get flu shots…
Still, I can’t resist saying a few things today. Just a few thoughts. And then I will be on my way, to regroup and be back refreshed to post on another day.
First of all, I am struggling to really truly understand the depth of what it means to have finally elected an African American president. As we watched Obama’s speech last night and Congressman Lewisthis morning, my husband said he never thought he would see the day. I thought about it and said I had thought I would see such a day. Then I wondered why I have been so optimistic about that possibility. Well, I think its because I have seen another impossibility happen before.
On February 11, 1990, I happened to be in Johannesburg visting friends (I lived and went to high school in Swaziland at the time). Do you know what happened that day in history? Nelson Mandela was released from prison. I will never forget the sound of that entire city raised up in celebration. During my years living in its neighboring country, the impossible happened for South Africa: Apartheid was abolished, Nelson Mandela was freed and he became president. While I certainly can’t really compare the politics and complexities of the United States and South Africa, I can compare the utter joy of that day. And since then, I have believed anything is possible.
Another fleeting thought in my mind right now is how much repair this country needs. This election tore us all apart. While I listened to the radio this morning, it was as if the DJs thought Obama being elected was a sign of the end of days. There are grumblings about socialism and terrorism and baby killing. While ridiculous, I feel its a sign of fear and misunderstanding about Obama’s potential for leadership. We need to figure out a way to reconnect again and, even if Obama was not your choice, find the strength to bring ourselves back together immediately.
The realist in me won’t let me forget another very important point either. Why is it so damn important that do we bring ourselves together right now? No doubt about it, we have a hell of a lot of work to do to fix our problems. While Obama will be president, it is up to ALL of us to take responsibility and put our country back together again. Lets stop pointing fingers (Bush, Obama, McCain, Karl Rove, Cheney, either Clinton) – enough already, lets get focused and fix ourselves.
And one more thing. Bans on gay marriage passed in California, Florida and Arizona. Discrimination lives on. This is a wake-up call for all of us that nothing can be fixed over night – even a night as amazing as last night. We need to keep working and pushing forward to assure equal rights for every American. It’s only a mandate in our constitution after all…
Finally I will leave you with this video of Obama’s victory speech last night. What a moment in our history. Once again, I am deeply proud to be an American this morning.
(Phew. And I am really so damn tired. More from me – more fun stuff from me, I promise – once I reboot this worn out, run down, over thought system of mine.)