This past week has been monumental for me, as I'm sure it has for the majority of Americans. Even those who did not vote for Obama are surely realizing the historical importance of this election. If they're lucky, they will have at least experienced a flutter in their hearts upon viewing people all over the country and the world dancing in the streets and waving American flags. To know that people in countries all over the world are actually celebrating one of our decisions is truly spectacular. Regardless of how swiftly the Obama administration is able to carry out its promises, our whole political landscape has changed over night. America is transitioning into a new brand of country.
I woke up Wednesday morning with hope and excitement in my heart, and those feelings remain with me now. I feel fortunate that I have not fallen victim to the paranoia and xenophobia that caused many people to say "NoBama, No Way." After all, what has my generation of Americans experienced thus far that we can be truly excited about? Two gulf wars? 9/11? Hurricane Katrina? I think not. This is the first sign of positive progress we have been witness to. I never got to see Neil Armstrong walk on the moon for the first time, or desegregation in schools. But I did get to witness the first black president elected into office, winning the popular and electoral votes, and humbling stepping onto the stage in Chicago to greet the world.
Certainly, this election does not prove that we are "color blind," or that we have demolished all racial barriers in this country in the matter of one day. I hope we don't begin to think so; there is still much work to be done. And neither will every election from this day forward go my way. But I have a renewed confidence in the power of grassroots movements, our rights as voters, and the constitution. As my friend Liz wrote very poignantly to me in an email this week:
"On this post-election day 1 (i.e. "the beginning"), I am making a
promise. Just as I typically, in the throes of a hangover, promise
never to drink again, I may be making a vow that I cannot keep. But I
am at least pledging to try…I will not lose faith in this country
again. I will not forget this day or this feeling, and I'm hoping
that you won't either. I will not let my guard down, and when this
country starts to mess up again, I will stay calm and hopeful, and
work to change it. And finally, although I can't promise not to
threaten it again, I won't actually move to Canada, no matter what."
May the energy from this week carry on over the next big steps in our country's progress, and into our everyday lives from this day forward.
And may we all learn great things from being part of our nation's great history.