Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Young at Heart - for Obama (1.29.08)

This may be the election when kids convince their parents. Or when the kid in us feels young and inspired again. I am hopeful. I am waiting for change. And I heartily sign on to the "movement" that promises to unify and heal our nation. I am glad to pass the torch. To see young people excited. To know that many are taking time out from graduate school or high school to become active in working for a better tomorrow in a land that is hurting in so many ways.

At 62 I remain naive and idealistic in spite of so many setbacks, where my hopes and dreams seemed quenched or marginalized, where selfishness ruled and people told me to "just suck it up" you bleeding heart liberal. At nearly 63 I have tears in my eyes when I think of people really coming together, giving of themselves, reaching out to help our poor, our mentally ill, our homeless, our jobless, our cowering illegal immigrants also yearning to be free, our rich heritage of freedom of religion or no religion, our citizens of beautiful color or different sexual persuasion. I can taste a yearning to come together and stop condemning those who are different. I savor a return to the Rule of Law, a newfound commitment to the Constitution as all we need to protect. I envision people learning to live with the fact that life is full of uncertainties, but that protecting our civil liberties is more important than spying on ourselves, suspending Habeas Corpus, or psychologically breaking and torturing anyone for any reason.

When I was young I thrilled to the words of JFK, calling me to give to my country, to offer my strengths and my skills to help those less fortunate than I. I thrilled to MLK's "dream" because I too wanted to sit down with people of any color or creed and honor the sacredness of each human person, the wealth of our differences. I marched and worked and reached across the racial barriers in college, becoming a pacifist.

Was it the murder of JFK that most marked my Freshman year of college? I cannot say. I watched the sun set from the back of the Capital that day, looking out across the Mall to the Washington Monument. I stood in line that cold Sunday for hours to have a chance to walk before a coffin in the Rotunda. And I watched in person the procession of that coffin as it wound its way through the streets.
Thus it was I learned to cope early on: While lucky enough to be thrilled by inspiring leaders, I had to accept the senseless murders of three of them, one black, two from the same family. But my idealism did not die with these men. Indeed, I have continued to believe that life's good fortune to me was no more than a responsibility conferred, a duty to give - to those less fortunate - regardless of the dangers or the cynicism or the greed that abounded in our society and the world.

Now, as I watch Senator Obama, I find myself connecting with this idealism of youth. But at the same time I find myself watching him, fearing that at any moment he too could be struck down as were those three men in the '60's. I wish it weren't so. For me 9/11 was not the defining moment. It was that noontime when the rumor ran around our college that JFK had been struck down. It was the moment when someone notified our philosophy class that he had died, that classes were canceled. It was the bus ride through DC - in total silence. And the days that followed. It was a world turned upside down in an instant at 18.

But what followed was not like what followed 9/11. Instead I continued to receive messages from adults to educate myself and give of my talents. I saw non-violence adopted. And I felt at home with it. And I didn't give it up after two more murders. I didn't give it up during the First Gulf War. I didn't give it up when two more wars have come to pass that are still going on.
I am in the business of hope. Therapy is a change business, but it works on hope. And I have signed on to the hope-express with Barak Obama.

Barak means blessing. And more than anything I want this man to live. To live to old age. Like Nelson Mandela. But let him not die like Gandhi. Not like MLK. Not like JFK. Or RFK. I want Barak to live and give us the best he has, call forth the best in us. And may his hopes prosper. May we all continue to work for what is best in us and not stoop to what is worst.


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