Wednesday, November 5, 2008

It was like a movie.

It's hard to describe my feelings at the moment.

What has opened up is an unfamiliar geyser of pride and optimism about my country. I believed we were at the end, approaching the final gasps of the little experiment across the pond.

I don't think I've ever felt so, I guess, twitterpated over being an American.

In the days following 9/11, I had some faint notions of pride. It seemed, for one glimpse, we had set aside partisan acrimony to look towards the greater good. That crumbled, and fast. My heart broke a little and I let apathy take over.

But this is different. When the new first family emerged from the curtains in Grant Park I exploded into tears. I clapped and cheered as if was there. Hooray! Maybe now when we go to France we won't have to tell them we're Canadian...or...maybe we will, but who cares!

(Being a Chicagoan, it must seem heretical that I didn't beat it down to the park. Truth be told, I just couldn't take the crowds. I admit, I have a little regret, but I had a nice time watching the returns all the same.)

They looked great, did't they? What an impossibly good looking family. The Bidens looked great, too. And with the movie music playing at the end of Obama's speech, it was like the whole thing had been scripted by Aaron Sorkin. I half expected a cut to CJ Cregg and Josh Lyman in the midst of a walk and talk.

What a happy ending.

Then as I drove home last night, the fairy dust got smacked right out of my eyes. Around Sacramento a Toyota waving a giant Confederate flag sped past me.


But in some way it was necessary to see.

Last night, there was a lot of talk about the "work" we have to do, rolling up our sleeves and digging in to something real and useful. I don't doubt that the citizenry is willing to do such work. I have often held that we are willing to do almost anything, we just have to be asked, reminded. But this work is not just of and with the hands. It is of and with the mind as well.

Bigotry, hatred and violent fundamentalism still exist in our time. That flag was a cold reminder that this is is work that needs tending to and I'm not sure a lot of finger wagging to the stupid racists is gonna do it. The process will be delicate and painstaking.

(And should NOT include my comment about how tired their necks must be from carrying around their giant foreheads.)

Still, even with the grim spectral flag flying out the back of that Toyota, I have greater hope today than I did yesterday. I suppose I can thank that guy for keeping my hope clear eyed.

I can't wait to see what will happen next.

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