The Beauty of Hope
There are few things that can make me smile from deep within my soul. November 4, 2008 will go down in history as one of those occasions. I can honestly say that I wasn't interested in the nail-biting vote-by-vote, state-by-state breakdown of the polls. And unlike the overtly jubilant young who'd voted for the first time, I found myself very subdued as the event transpired. As history was unfolding I simply wouldn't allow myself to be built up for the potential disappointment. As the results started to slowly trickle in, I popped "The Pursuit of Happyness" into the DVD player. I remembered the election of 2000, and going to sleep thinking our new president would be Al Gore, only to wake up and see the media circus discussing "dangling chads." While the movie played, I ate dinner, and basically succeeded at keeping the evening as normal as possible. I reflected on what Senator John McCain had said a few days earlier; that win or lose, he and his family would be alright. With a nearby TV on mute, I enjoyed the movie while waiting for the final word. I truthfully didn't expect anything before midnight (central time); and admittedly was quietly surprised when breaking news scrolled across the screen that McCain had conceded. I realized at this point that no one had anything on Senator Obama, nor his family that could sway the vote of the American people. For a brief moment I, for whatever reason thoughts come up from the depths, remembered how President Clinton was publicly denigrated regarding an issue that had nothing to do with the 5-star job he'd done as Commander-in-Chief for eight years. I realized then that it was a filthy tactic to dissuade the American public from voting for a Democratic candidate. Casting those thoughts aside, I stopped the movie and turned up the volume to listen as Senator McCain showed a side of himself rarely seen during the campaign. His concession speech was perhaps the most eloquent and heartfelt I'd ever heard. I was grateful that he didn't allow his pride to keep the working-class Americans awake into the wee hours of the morning, waiting for a decision that had become apparent. I was thankful that he didn't tarnish the election by disputing the count or claiming injustice at the polls, like a toddler in a toy store not getting his way. He responded with a calm and assuring acceptance, as though he were on a basketball court; just two guys shooting hoops and at the end one says, 'game over; good game'. That was somehow refreshing after a very long and taxing campaign not only for the candidates; but, America as a whole. After he spoke, I returned the TV to mute because I didn't need anyone to critique or spin what he'd said. He was transparently clear. And I remembered his words from an earlier interview. He'd be alright. That was important for Americans to hear; because, on saying that, I knew too, that even if Obama hadn't won; he and his family would ultimately be alright. Candidates aside, it was Main Street, USA that concerned me most. And then the moment came. There they were; indisputably one of the most beautifully handsome families of the world. One could only reflect for a brief moment of God's designing two people who seemed glove-in-hand to each other and His gifting them with two children. I remembered the Bible verse, Gen. 2:24 "And the two shall become one." As the ladies left the stage and President-elect Obama began his speech, I realized that not just America, but the entire world was watching. And in an instant, the moment became as huge as it was. As I listened, I heard a little of Dr. King in his speech and knew he wasn't so young that he didn't know the struggle of black America. I watched as tears flowed around the world at something occurring, that many denied the faith and said could never be. I've heard enough of his life-story to know that he wasn't born with a silver spoon in his mouth and that his spirit is more of empathy, rather than, mere patronizing sympathy, for the common man. I couldn't help but note a sense of sadness in his usually beaming spirit and remembered that he'd lost someone special just mere hours before the election. I couldn't help but see his strength increase at Michelle's sincere embrace of reassurance; and I knew that in time, he'd be alright. I noticed that there were no balloons, nor confetti falling from the ceilings as in elections past; and realized the perfect balance of letting America enjoy this momentous occasion; but, also, in a subtle way, serve as a reminder that their family was in mourning. I went to sleep with a sense of peace that the morning wouldn't start with a frenzy of reporters trying to tarnish this rare moment in history. I know evil still exists; but, I realized in this moment how significantly America has matured since the hate-filled yesteryear of the Civil Rights era. There's a beauty that comes with a hope that is not deferred. I always believed if I lived long enough I'd see an African-American as President of the United States. I can honestly say I truly didn't expect it this soon. But I serve a God of suddenlies; and though caught off guard, am not genuinely surprised. I started this new day, as most other days with a morning walk, a cup of java, and brief reflection. And the day progressed on with its usual agendas; though oddly enough, people around me seemed unruffled by the results of this potentially racially-charged election. The good mornings were the usual kind offered on a cool, crisp, fall morning. That felt good in a strange way; to know that a change so huge had occurred; and, no one seemed any different by it. America has turned a page. She's entered a new chapter. May the beauty of hope continue to live on.