I had an incredible Tuesday. And in reality, it had little to do with the outcome of the night.
I (along with some of my Spanish-speaking classmates) had the great opportunity to have dinner with Chema Tojeira, the rector of the Jesuit university in San Salvador. In 1989, when six members of the UCA community (along with their housekeeper and her daughter) were slaughtered in cold blood by the Salvadoran military, Chema was the Central American provincial. He’s amazing. He talked about the history of his adopted country, about the current political and economic problems and hopes of El Salvador, and how much the notes of condolence from all over the world the poured in that day in November still mean to him. I had the chance to sit and talk with him for a few minutes and I was able to have him sign my copy of his book, an incredible book on the history and reality of martyrdom that is absolutely brilliant (but only available in Spanish…if you read Spanish…READ THIS BOOK!).
My experience with Chema was heartening. I was reminded of the great men and women I know who are working all over the world for social change, for the rights of people, to give voice to the voiceless. And to sit in a room full of others who are committed to the same thing…it was just beautiful. And, on a quasi-unrelated note, it was a great joy to be in a Spanish-speaking environment, surrounded by classmates from all over Latin America (with a few Europeans and Americans thrown in). My heart, which so misses El Salvador and Bolivia, felt at home.
And then I went from that gathering, where I had been reminded about the inteconnectedness of all the world (the economic crisis here has MAJOR implications for countries like El Salvador which require remittances from folks living abroad in order to keep on going and for people’s very survival), to a gathering with other classmates to watch the election returns. To walk into a room of a couple dozen people who are all under the age of 40…and to know that everyone had voted and felt like they had a true stake in the outcome of the election…it was amazing.
Regardless of how you feel about our President Elect, the American people won a major victory on Tuesday. More people voted than ever. One of my greatest hopes for the evening (apart from which candidates I wanted to win, which I’m not going to get into here) was that my generation, the Millennial Generation, would finally disprove the stereotype of youth being apathetic. And as that party showed, and as the returns showed, we did just that. People voted. They participated. And they cared. And to me, that’s the ultimate victory. It turns out that hope feels pretty good when it’s realized. There’s a lot of work to do, but at least we voted! And that makes us the real winners.