While most people I interact with are excited about Obama’s win last Tuesday, I certainly have heard from some that are not. But I’m a firm believer in the Pollyanna way, that there is good to be seen even in bad situations. We only have to look hard enough and open our hearts and minds to seeing the positive. As a hospital chaplain you can probably guess that I don’t advocate ignoring reality and living in la la land just because you don’t want to think about negative things. However, at least in this election, there is much to celebrate regardless of affiliation, regardless of disappointments you may have.
People saw candidates this year that represented them and their interests, because of things like their race, state/origin (go Alaska!), gender, service to the military or local community efforts. People took stock of their values, reflected upon them, and made their voice be heard! Indeed, they finally knew their voices could be heard.
Early on in the campaign I was on a bus and beamed with joy at seeing a near 90 year old woman with a Hilary button on her sweet homemade knit hat. I didn’t beam with joy because Hilary was my candidate of choice; I beamed because she held her head so high. I imagined that she was feeling a new wave of dignity having a female candidate in the race (purely speculation of course). I imagined she may even be voting for the first time like an 84 year old woman I saw on the news one day who finally registered to vote when she heard about Hilary’s bid for the Democratic nomination.
Then another woman, my dear grandma, had quite a new experience this election as well. As the wife of a man whose family had been pretty involved in politics (as supporters, not candidates), she had voted one way her whole adult life. But this year she changed her mind and marched down to city hall for the sole purpose of changing her party affiliation, something she didn’t even have to do to vote as she pleased. She even contributed financially to a campaign in her own name for the first time-and did so three different times at that! I revel in my grandma’s freedom to change when everyone says that the elderly are stuck in their ways; she never bought into that, not now and not when she was young. I celebrate her making a personal, autonomous choice and valuing her own opinions. Not that she didn’t before (she’s no shrinking violet, trust me), but this year she was so excited that it seemed different somehow.
This same grandma told me about an amazing discussion she had with one of her bridge partners after Tuesday’s election. Her friend who is African American said, with tears streaming down her face, that for the first time in her life she finally felt like she wasn’t a second class citizen. I had to repeat that in my head to see if I hat gotten that right–I had, and with that, it was my turn to cry. I remembered the tear streaked faces I saw on the TV that night and how moved I was that they were so moved.
How Obama kept from crying I’ll never know! Let me ask you though, when have you ever seen people cry over an election? Sure, Chelsea Clinton cried when her dad was elected, but we’re talking about thousands if not millions of people. When did you last hear something so beautiful as a person who finally did not feel like a second class citizen?
Of course, you must take this with a grain of Pollyanna sized salt, but have you ever been so touched?