Saturday, November 15, 2008

change has come

i've read a lot of post-election articles -- on what an obama presidency will mean, for good and for ill, on how the republican party lost the election -- and lost its way, and on and on it goes. one thing's for sure: there will never be an end to words. these folk write and write, and after a while, the words blend together and are quickly forgotten. i think if some of these folk were honest, they'd admit that they really didn't have much to say. they just had a deadline to meet and column inches to fill.

but i highly recommend the article by leonard pitts jr. of the miami herald, entitled 'we' are finally a part of 'we the people.' his reflections are worthy of long consideration; and he has a sense of history, significance, and proportion that i greatly appreciated. here's an excerpt:

i always thought i understood what michelle obama was trying to say.... namely, that with her husband, this brown-skinned guy with the funny name, making a credible run for the highest office in the land, she could believe, for the first time, that ''we the people'' included her.

it is, for african americans, an intoxicating thought almost too wonderful for thinking. yet, there it is. and here we are, waking up this morning to find barack obama president-elect of these united states.

in a sense, it is unfair -- to him, to us -- to make tuesday's election about race.... but in the end, after all that, there still is race.

and it would be a sin against our history... not to be still and acknowledge that something has happened here and it is sacred and profound.

for most of the years of the american experiment, ''we the people'' did not include african americans. we were not included in ''we.'' we were not even included in "people.''

what made it galling was all the flowery words to the contrary, all the perfumed lies about equality and opportunity. this was, people kept saying, a nation where any boy might grow up and become president. which was only true, we knew, as long as it was indeed a boy and as long as the boy was white...

there was something bittersweet in watching michelle obama lectured on american pride this year, in seeing african americans asked to prove their americanness when our ancestors were in this country before this country was. there was something in it that was hard to take, knowing that we have loved america when america did not love us, defended america when it would not defend us, believed in american ideals that were larger than skies, yet never large enough to include us.

we did this. for years unto centuries, we did this. because our love for this country is deep and profound. and complicated and contradictory. and cynical and hard.

now it has delivered us to this singular moment. barack obama is president-elect of the united states.

and we the people should be proud.
those who opposed an obama presidency complained that there seemed to be more style than substance to his campaign, more rhetoric than reality to his promises. that assertion -- and obama's ability to govern -- will now be tested. will he lead in a way that helps americans to overcome the rancor of the past and find some common ground? will he be, as a recent president famously promised but failed to be, a 'uniter and not a divider?'

but even if an obama presidency isn't all that its proponents hope it will be, there is, as pitts points out, something that has happened that is both sacred and profound, something that should not casually or cynically be brushed aside. it may or may not prove to be the time when the oceans began to recede and the earth began to heal itself -- but it is undoubtedly a step forward on a significant front. and that's worth celebrating.

3 comments:

Briana said...

thank you for posting this excerpt. i think it captures the essence of what a lot of people, myself included, have been feeling but just have not had the words to express (or at least not with such eloquence).

it's amazing to think that america has finally come of age and that we got to see it happen and actually take part in it.

marguerite said...

yes barry, thanks for the post -- it's beautiful

gr8god said...

thanks for your comments.

i think pitts really did a great job on his article. it was, in many ways, what i wish i could have written myself -- insightful, poignant, and almost poetic.

these are amazing times we live in -- what a privilege to serve God as history turns!